Previews

Heroes Of Ruin: A 3DS game for Diablo fiends

They don't call these woods 'haunted' for nothing...

We've just been deposited in the city of Nexus, in a world known mysteriously as Veil. (Or rather, our character has - we've been given a 3DS and a copy of Heroes Of Ruin for an hour, but we didn't want to shatter the illusion.)

So yes, we're in Nexus, Heroes' fairly large hub town, home to traders looking to hawk their wares, and people with gigantic exclamation marks over their heads. These guys are either suffering from some hideous disease1 or they want us to undertake a sidequest.

There are about seven or eight of these golden '!'s on our minimap - an impressive amount - but we only have time for one, unfortunately. We're going to venture into the ominously monikered Haunted Woods, to make contact with a dead Elven king.

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The first step, however, is finding your quest, and that isn't as easy as it sounds. The game can be a tad confusing about getting where you need to be, because (as far as we were able to tell) there was no way to distinguish which ! belonged to your active quest. A more detailed read of the quest log may have yielded further clues, but time was getting on and we were looking forward to cracking on with the smashy-smashy.

Finally nudged in the right direction, we make our way to Nexus' 'industrial district' (it was a small junkyard) to hop on the nearest waystone to the Haunted Woods. These stones act as both checkpoints and teleport pads, handily reviving you when you die out in the field, as well as providing a means of returning to the Nexus to flog or purchase loot, or turn in quests.

The guard at the waystone told us not to be put off by the actually-quite-offputting name, and thanks to our inherently trusting nature we found ourselves wandering into a creepy forest teeming with zombies, spiders and hideous giant golems. New quest: kill that stupid lying guard.

ALCIHOLICS ANONYMOUS
If you're wondering who we are, well, so are we. A quick glance through the menu tells us we're an Alchitect: a sort of steampunk alchemist who flings flasks and spells in equal measure. Other classes include the Vanquisher - a warrior with the head of a lion - and the Gunslinger, a bard with torso of a swan. Wait, no, it's a class that specialises in firearms. The game can be played online in a team of up to four, but today our Alchitect was doing it all on her own.

Thankfully, she's pretty capable in a fight. Combat's slick, quick and robust, with melee attacks that connect satisfyingly, and ranged spells that explode in a glittering miasma of energy. It's streamlined, but in a good way - all the features you want are there and easy to access. Health and mana potions require only a tap of the D-pad, while three different abilities can be mapped to the face buttons (the last is reserved for your standard attack, natch).

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Finally you can block, and do a nifty roll-teleport. It's all sounding pretty easy, isn't it? Nope. This is a challenging game, as evidenced by the frighteningly quick depletion of our health bar, even during fights with lesser beasts.

The bigger ones - ha ha ha. No. But as we slowly increased in level, upgraded and bought new spells, and stumbled across sweeter loot, the Haunted Forest started to feel less like the site of our inevitable doom, and more like a like small copse round the back of the local Sainsbury's.

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