Thalion are on a bit of a roll at the moment. What with the excellent No Second Prize and the forthcoming Ambermoon, the German software house look set to conquer all genres. Between those two games, though, falls Lionheart, an attempt to out-wrestle whatever hack-and-slash-'em-up platform adventure is currently recognised as being the bee's knees. Come to think of it, there isn't really much competition in this field at the moment. A gap in the market, perhaps?
The plot tells of how Vladyn, a feared warrior who prefers to spend the majority of his time drinking and fighting, is dragged from a local watering hole by a few of the king's guards. Unbeknown to Vladyn, the Lionheart - a symbol of mystical power - has been stolen by someone called Norka and if the king doesn't show the trophy to his people at the 'Showing Festival' (which sounds to me like the game boys and girls play at school) then his ability to rule will be seriously questioned.
Vladyn isn't initially interested. The task sounds a bit too hard and the reputed fortress that the perpetrator of this crime has surrounded himself in conjures up some completely scary images. Unfortunately, though, Vladyn's woman, Ilene, happened to be worshipping the sacred treasure at the time and was promptly zapped, turning her to stone and the cure for this condition can only be found in Norka's land.
So, Vladyn's adventure has two objectives, the most important being to return the Lionheart to the King. Of course, if Vladyn can find the remedy for his missus then he's laughing. Let the games begin...
Judging by the comments we received regarding the coverdisk demo we ran back in November, it looks as though there are many out there who are eager to get to grips with Lionheart and the good news is you're not likely to be disappointed. This is, without a doubt, the finest example of its kind, mainly because it actually tries to introduce some degree of originality into the gameplay rather than simply being content to just bombard the gamer with large sprawling levels and calling it 'a challenge'. That's not to say that Lionheart isn't large - because it is - or, indeed, a challenge as the difficulty levels provide a level of longevity the likes of which we haven't seen before. The added incentive to discover Ilene's remedy is a welcome inclusion because if you complete the game without it, you are treated to a successful, yet depressing end-of-game animation as Vladyn, although triumphant, realises that he has to face the rest of his life without his true love (ahhhh!). The variety of the game is amazing - one minute you can be swinging from vines, hacking at monsters, the next leaping up a giant tower as a bursting river creeps higher and higher, constantly threatening you with instant death. The music, too, is suitably dramatic, with an amazingly orchestrated soundtrack. On the downside, though (yes, there has to be one), there really are truly frustratingly tough parts of the game and I'd make sure your windows are double glazed before you attempt the Ark level especially. Still, challenge has never been a bad thing and you'll always be back for more after you've calmed down. If you haven't gathered by now, Lionheart is a game which deserves pride of place in anyone's collection. Buy it or be sad.
Fantastic platform game, where you play a half human, half lion hero and have to beat various enemies and traps. Amazing graphics and music! You must try!
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