Checking Out Rise of the Argonauts

I swung by Codemasters' hotel suite when they were here in New York City yesterday, and one of the games I had demoed for me was the Greek mythology-inspired Rise of the Argonauts, in development by Liquid Entertaiment for a Fall release on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

I guess you'd call it a little bit action, a little bit RPG (but mostly action). The rep who showed me the game told me it's based in good old Gods-and-heroes Greek myth, but takes a little liberty with the canonical facts. For example, the hero is Jason, he of Golden Fleece fame, and in the game, his wife has been killed and he's seeking the fabled Fleece in order to resurrect her. If Kratos has learned us anything, it's that dead wives plus mythology equals a recipe for high drama and pathos.

The scene I saw featured Jason in a coliseum-style battle against some armored Ionians, and it was deliciously gory - when Jason clove torsoes with bloody abandon, you could see the severed spine in the middle, just like a rib-eye.

Fahey posted the trailer last year, during which he said he was glad that Jason was finally getting a video game (instead of just being Cerberus food in Kratos' hero tale). Some neat traits make this title look to be a lot more than a God of War knockoff, though:

For one thing, it's not all fighting. Jason gets his powers from four different gods, who afford him strength boosts to different aspects when he earns their favor. One way to do this is in selecting responses in conversation. When you're confronted, or talking to someone, you get a little convo wheel (think Mass Effect), and you choose one of four different responses, each associated with a particular god. If you choose the aggressive response, for example, Jason will deck the offender across the mouth and you'll get a little boost from Ares, the god of war.

Moreover, you can't please them all - brown-nosing one deity will piss off others.

One cool side aspect involves dedicating your deeds to different gods, too - there are achievement-like lists of objectives you can fulfill, such as killing a certain number of enemies or performing certain tasks in the game, and if you accomplish one, you can visit a shrine to choose the god to which you'll dedicate the completed deed. Visiting the statues also shows you a list of the possible objectives you can fulfill, so it looks to add a little bit of optional goal-oriented gameplay to the experience.

One thing I'd actually never seen before in a game like this (not saying it hasn't happened, just that I've never seen it) is that you can actually turn off the on-screen displays, like health indicators and weapons and all of that, and just play the game with only the action in front of you. The rep told me they wanted to provide this option in order to enhance player immersion. How do you know, then, when you're low on life? The screen is ringed with a red haze.

It was interesting to see some ideas for innovating on the genre by adding RPG-influenced elements, and the character models were really detailed, too.