Lantern Forge fits in a wide arc of genres, it’s a Sandbox Survival game similar to Don’t Starve but a whole lot less surreal. It’s also an Action, RPG Crafting game like Terraria or Star Bound. It has been brought to us via Steam’s GreenLight project by Hearthfire Studios a small independent game development company and Lantern Forge is their first wide-release title.
On starting the game you are given the option to create a very limited character. You choice is male or female and also what colour hair they have and that’s pretty much it. This is slightly disappointing but possibly a stronger character customisation will be something they’ll add at a later stage.
Once you have selected your character you are dropped into the middle of a beautifully crafted forest with no tutorial, just a basic help guide. This may put off some gamers as they will have to learn everything for themselves but it’s relatively straight forward and actually quite fun to learn. You hit small rocks, pick up sticks/logs to make wood/stone. Crafting those two together gets you a Pick Axe, Shovel, Axe or Hoe that allows you to mine bigger rocks for minerals, dig up certain areas, cut down trees and plant/harvest crops. It also has a Wiki Page, online guides and stuff on YouTube to watch which to be honest i had to do.
The main gameplay screen is simplistically set out. Top left is the character tab showing you the stats of your character and the crafting tab allowing you to craft items from the things you acquire throughout your adventure. Top right is the world time as it cycles from day to-night, settings/help, your inventory bag and your skill trees for levelling up. A skill point is earned every time you level up and these can be placed into the Knight, Hunter, Mage and Adventurer paths. The bottom of the screen is a vast array of bars and slots including Health, Mana, Experience, Energy and Hunger. There are also six hot slots for items you acquire and want to hand like sword, bow, axe, pick and food.
On first reflection and with only a few minutes of gameplay i wasn’t particularly enjoying this game but it grips you in a very addictive way. You want to level up, improve your character, do some crafting and explore the area. There is so much to see and do, even as i write this I’ve just cheered to myself for getting rid of a bee hive that was pestering me and it’s bees that kept invading my base. The greatest area in my opinion is at the foot of a set of stairs that’s there when you start the game. Once you descend these you are in a mineable dungeon filled with goblins, skeletons, rats, scorpions and spiders all for the killing. You’ll gain experience, coin, loot and love every minute of it.
I will give this game 7/10, it is a great game but it has things that slightly hold you back. There are still a few bugs in the system one of which includes a health bar glitch that doesn’t show either your character or the enemy’s bar depleting. The controls/combat can be slightly tedious and in my opinion a better character customisation would be great as items you craft don’t really change your look a great deal.
Unfortunately there isn’t a multiplayer option and I believe co-op would be a great addition. In a sea of other games of its type it doesn’t really hugely stand out, however it can hold its own. If this is the first attempt at a mainstream game by a handful of developers, I think that given time, Hearthfire Studios will create a true masterpiece.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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