The Chosen — Well of Souls is an action/role-playing game set at the start of the 19th century. An evil sorcerer, Marcus Dominus Ingens, has learned how to become immortal; he has started to tear down the barriers of good. Marcus has obtained the emerald tablet (an item of great power) and has started calling forth demons to take over the world, weakening The Chosen to a point he is able to capture him. You, of course, are the only hope to stop this before the world is doomed. The character you choose contains the reason why you fight against the evil, so you make haste to a small town to find the Society of Alchemists who will assist you in your journey. The Alchemists will tell you that you must first limit your enemies power; you will need to close the four wells of souls placed around the world.
At the Society of Alchemists, you'll meet a few characters who will buy and sell you goods, repair your equipment, and guide you on your quest. After hearing their backstories, there really is almost no plot for the next 4,000 kills or so. Basically, the story flatlines. You will see some basic, yet cryptic (well, at least attempting to be cryptic) phrases as clues along the way "help" you out. And while the Alchemists will give you "quests," they are of the type that pretty much get done anyway, with zero reward and rarely any follow up.
Being touted as containing "very strong RPG elements," The Chosen allows you to choose between three characters, all with different back stories. The characters (Frater, Elena and Khan) all specialize in their respective areas (magic, ranged combat and melee combat). Although they are not customizable in any way, each could be re-geared to use any combat style or combination you see fit.
A big sore point for me with this game that colors nearly every point to follow: in an RPG you generally want a somewhat immersible experience. In The Chosen — Well of Souls, the voice acting pretty much destroys any attempt to create that the suspense of disbelief necessary to create the immersion. The voice sounds as if it were done in some giant nerd's basement — not just a giant nerd ... a super giant nerd. The fake accent on Elena or the very unfitting voice for the narrator (The Chosen) were hard for me to stomach.
The Chosen uses an isometric view, with point-and-click movement to assist you in slaughtering countless enemies. The character system, while not innovative, does let you shape to your character to your personal fighting style. At each level, you gain five points to throw into the statistics of strength, dexterity, knowledge and vitality. Strength allows you to do more melee damage, wear heavier armor and equip better melee weapons, while dexterity allows you to increase your combat skills (I still don't know what they do) and equip better ranged weapons. Knowledge increases your mana and the ability to use more advanced spells, while vitality increases your total health and the regeneration of both health and mana.
In addition to statistics, you are given a skill point, allowing you to buy or upgrade a passive skill (three can be active at once) to augment your combat. Skills are quite interesting, as a good one can turn a really, really bad situation into a cake walk. Of course, they all depend on your play style. Two somewhat hidden statistics are faith and stamina; stamina dictates how far/long you can run without resting, and faith governs your ability to summon demons, which I'll discuss in more detail later.
I chose to play the ranged character and made a mistake of mixing strength, stamina and dexterity, but mostly dexterity. I found there was little payoff for using more advanced armor as you. Luckily, the game was far from challenging. I did adore the Intimidate ability, making many enemies afraid to approach me, allowing me to mow them down in the order I needed without being ganked by all the others first! I was freakin' Rambo with boobs!
While the character statistics and abilities are enjoyable, where The Chosen shines is in equipment and items department. It took me a little while to understand how to get decent equipment in the game, and without it, the game actually will be a challenge. Basically, all equipment has a certain damage or armor value. Some will has enhanced features — from extra damage, to assistance with demon-summoning, to more durability. You can combine equipment to enhance those equipment values.
So if I take my heavy-duty, machine gun toting Rambo (with boobs) and start to enhance her, I get a whole new beast that can just be sickly powerful. Adding a weapon to anything will increases its primary statistic but drop its durability; adding armor will increase the durability of an item; magic books will lower the requirements (statistics) to use your new item; and rings will decrease the cost to transform your item into the next version.
Since I was a ranged character, I focused heavily on offense, spending a good 90 percent on my gun, adding health, knock-back, minor demon-summoning assistance, but mostly pure damage. Kill them before they can get to you! Right? I was hooked on upgrading and continually searching for new buys, drops, whatever so I could add another feature to my gun. And it paid off! The first time I was able to stand in one place and mow down four enemies in one blast, it was priceless; even if that was rare, I could down an enemy in a single blast regularly!
With the item types themselves, there isn't a whole lot of diversity. Melee weapons come in one- or two-handed weapons, allowing for shield or dual-welding if you wish. Staves are somewhat generic. And ranged weapons probably have most diversity. A bow, crossbow, pistol, rifle or machine gun (there are more, too) all have different fire rates, reload times, accuracies and ranges. Armor (helmet and chest pieces) are somewhat generic, although there are higher qualities for high-strength ranges. Like other items as you proceed through the game, new types will come available to you.
Your character has at their disposal a few helpers to generally assist you or get you through tight spots. You have access to two pets, Golem and Neferkar. Golem is a lumbering, slow basher with a lot of health and a high amount of damage. For a ranged character, he was very useful at the start but became quite useless near the end, as he simply can't keep up. As you become less fragile, your need for a tank diminishes.
Neferkar is a little bug who I just adore. While it has very little endurance, it zips around and causes havoc, getting hit far less than Golem ever does. The panic it causes is ideal for a hunter, allowing enemies to run all over as bullets fly and energy beams mow down the rest. As your pets level, you can increase their attack power or endurance. However, the only way to heal them is to find or buy certain scrolls.
You may also be able to acquire (sometimes) human allies. If you rescue them, they will often aid you. While you can't control them, they do keep a guard around you; and while you can't heal them directly, one ability allows you to heal them very slowly.
Lastly, but by far the most cool, is your ability to summon one of the demons you have captured from a well of souls. The demons will attack with the elements they belong to and will last a short amount of time attacking whatever it can. Unleashed in a dangerous situation with a lot of common enemies, the demon can rip them apart in seconds — faster than you ever can. You can keep summoning them until your faith is depleted; and you can keep them around longer with certain (costly) enhancements on your equipment.
I loved the inclusion of demons. They just look awesome as they rip through your enemies. Unfortunately, there is virtually no control over any of your helpers, and it can really ruin the game for you — at least for me, a hunter who lives off of not attracting hordes of attention.
Since The Chosen — Well of Souls is a single-player game, there is only so far you can go and advance. There are a limited number of enemies and drops (which seem to be static), so the replay value is not nearly as good as it could be. This is possibly a good thing, because that point-and-click movement is just extremely sloppy, having you move to areas you never wanted and attack targets you wish you hadn't. And while you can use a bunch of hot keys, and the left and right mouse buttons to attack, switch weapon sets, call pets or more, it really can't make up for the poor pathing that causes the clumsiness.
There is very little complexity to combat; you just click on the enemy and kill, kill, kill; The Chosen is extremely hack n' slash, to say the least. Each section of the game (one per well of souls and one at the end) always have four maps to hack through, containing anywhere from 300 to 500 plus enemies. The levels themselves are nicely designed, often forcing more difficult pinch points and other limitations.
The unfortunate side is the enemies — much like the other elements of design in the game — are rather unoriginal. You see, while there might be a lot of enemies in the game, there really is only one set you fight over and over and over. Every creature has a basic race or type, and each race will have a combat class. The standard enemy has no distinction; it is a weak melee character (and mostly only used as an introduction). There are Velox-type enemies, which are a more beefed up version of the original melee character; the Miter is a weak-ranged enemy; and the Sanar are a type of priest class able to resurrect the fallen. The two enemies that ever really gave me a tough time were the Incantor, a magic-using class, as well as the ones which (forgetting the name here) are almost like a super Velox, able to withstand and dish out a large amount of damage — even then ... meh.
The ability to leave and return to the Alchemists at any time pretty much destroy any challenge in the game. The boss-type enemies have no real strategy and often are bugged (confused) when multiple characters attack it, so you may not even take damage. The only other enemy scattered about are the nocturnal enemies, such as werewolves or panthers that have huge advantages when it is night. They all fight the same way are either very lethal or very easy, depending on your abilities and time of day. Sadly, I pretty much described every enemy you'll meet, and none of them really require anything other than just clicking on them to make them die. The only strategy involved is you generally you want to kill the Sanar types first.
The Chosen — Well of Souls has a pleasing set of graphics, but they lack detail. The animation of the characters is very clunky, as is the user interface. Sound-wise, well, I've already talked about the voice acting — it ruins the game in itself. The music, however, isn't all that bad. It will fade in and out at times and can fit the mood. At least they knew not to just stick it in a loop and annoy you until you uninstall the game.
Unfortunately, The Chosen seems to have a few very consistent bugs, including crashing while loading games and crashing due to memory overflow. They aren't game-ruining but can be annoying at times.
Initially, I had to push myself to keep playing The Chosen — Well of Souls. I had no desire to keep playing at the start of the game, but as things advanced, I did end up having fun. Sure, the story is very thin and the enemies kind of repetitive. But if you like hack 'n' slash games, you might want to try it. The item customization and skill tree made the game more enjoyable for me. I started looking forward to playing.
I really don't know if I'd recommend The Chosen or not. It is not a bad game but definitely not a good game, so I guess ... it is a game. And at $19.99, more game than I would have expected. Despite my initial reluctance, I ended up having a decent time playing with my big gun and boobs, actually ... that is kinda weird.