GAME REVIEW: LORDS OF XULIMA / DEVELOPER: NUMANTIAN GAMES / PUBLISHER: NUMANTIAN GAMES / PLATFORM: PC, OS, LINUX / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Grab your sword and shield, take a page out of your massive book of spells and prepare for an adventure, provided by Lords of Xulima!
Upon starting a new game we are taken immediately to the party creation screen, because Gaulen cannot go on such an adventure on his own! Up to six characters can exist in a party from the get-go, and you’re never going to be short on options, with nine classes to pick from, nine Gods to worship (which each give different benefits), and different weapons to give your heroes, based on what class you’ve made them!
The editor itself is relatively minimal, giving you the option to name your characters and choose an appropriate picture from the gallery. But it does what it needs to do, as you never actually see the characters (barring Gaulen). The editor basically gives us what we need without being too complicated. Despite this, we can see that a decent amount of effort has been put into it, with each class and God getting their own description. It’d be easy to rigidly list the bonuses and stats of the class, but the people behind Lords of Xulima went beyond that. Once you’ve got your plucky band of merry men and women in order, the game begins…
We start our quest with some exposition, as we learn of the story of Gaulen. The short version is as follows, as we don’t want to go and ruin too much of the story: Gaulen has a dream, in which he’s told by the God, Golot, that he has been picked to go and save the world. Unfortunately, all the Gods are busy fighting a separate war, and losing. Their divine temples back in the real world, so to speak, have been profaned by evil, which you must eliminate.
Soon, we find ourselves in the actual game. The graphics themselves aren’t going to blow your mind, until you realise the game looks like a hand-drawn map, which is very cool. Not long after, you’ll come across a fight with a green gobliny-like creature, and so we are presented with the battle screen. Each of the enemies still living are shown to you, so you can be absolutely certain who is going to smash the respective faces of your party. Admittedly, the creatures don’t look graphically impressive, but if you’re going into games of this genre looking for drop-dead graphics, you’re doing it wrong.
The Battle screen itself is relatively easy to get the hang of. You see your characters, and how they are arranged. You can move certain party members where they need to go, which opens the doors to some decent strategy elements during battle. You can make a party member retreat to the back of the pack so they can drink healing potions and watch all of their previously detached limbs come together once more, while moving the big tough guy to the front of the fray to take a couple of hits to the torso for the team.
As well as this, on the right we see the turn order, which actually loops more than once, meaning you can always be a couple steps ahead of your enemy. While controlling your characters, buttons appear at the top allowing you to do things like cast spells, drink potions and check/use your inventory. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be kicking the rear-ends of any enemies you come across.
Or so you think. But unfortunately, for anyone who doesn’t know this, this game isn’t easy. It harkens back to the ‘Good Ol’ Days’ when games were hard. As in ‘throw your Commodore out the window and play some Super Mario World instead’ hard! This is one of those classic RPGs where you’ll spend time meticulously crafting your characters, and assigning each of them with the right tools, before watching them fall in battle, and weeping into your Macintosh. This game doesn’t have a difficulty curve so much as a difficulty take-off into orbit, and Lords of Xulima will have no qualms in sticking a giant ‘impossible’ difficulty orc in the path where you want to go.
If you’re a fan of rather old, difficult games, you can get over the intermediary of it all, you’ll quickly find yourself loving Lords of Xulima. It does an excellent job at taking you back to all of that. It doesn’t use fancy new systems, because it doesn’t need them. You’ll have your main quest, but upon entering the first village, we found a fair amount of side quests to do. It goes without saying that this game has a massive amount of content, as with other games in the genre.
Of course, Lords of Xulima is not without its flaws. Once you get past the initial climb up the mountain of difficulty, you won’t find yourselves challenged all that often, especially if you are a fan of the older games. You’ll be merrily skipping around, able to strangle the weak enemies with daisy chains you and your merry men made in camp the night before. Grinding is a common issue, which isn’t for everyone. If killing the same, weak enemies over and over again isn’t your idea of fun, LoX may seem a bit of a chore at times. The game is quite daunting to a player uneducated in the arts of classic RPGs. It doesn’t hold your hand and iron your clothes for you. It plonks you on a beach and says, “Right, good luck. What? You don’t understand the battle mechanics? I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
Lords of Xulima is a great game, although its audience may seem quite exclusive. If you’re a fan of classic RPGs of the 90’s and looking for a bit of wistful nostalgia, or a challenge, this is a game to definitely look over. It’s on Steam for a very reasonable price for its hours of gameplay. However, if you’re new to the franchise, we’d give caution. Unless you’re open minded about the games you play, you may find yourself huffing and puffing in anger as your team is pummelled to death by a walking mushroom.