The Chosen: Well of Souls Review

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Meridian4
Developer:Rebelmind
Release Date:2007-10-01
Genre:
  • Action,Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • Third-Person
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Introduction

The Chosen: Well of Souls (also known as Frater in Europe) is the latest budget action role-playing game from Polish developer Rebelmind, who also created Space Hack (released in 2005) and Grom: Terror in Tibet (released in 2003). I never played Grom, but Space Hack and The Chosen have a lot in common -- perhaps too much in common, given Space Hack's lukewarm reviews -- with both games focusing on combat over everything else, and with both forgetting that things like story and dialogue can help a game along. This sort of thing always makes me wonder: did Rebelmind not receive any feedback with Space Hack, or did they simply decide to ignore it, and create a game with almost exactly the same pros and cons and probably the same mixed reviews?

One place where The Chosen differs from Space Hack is the setting. Instead of using a spaceship, The Chosen takes place in 19th century Europe -- or at least a version of 19th century Europe where magic, zombies, and machine guns all exist. As the game opens up, an evil magician named Marcus Dominus Ingens has captured the Chosen One and the Emerald Tablet, and he has opened up several Wells of Souls to unleash demons and skeletons and a variety of other nasties on an unsuspecting world. You play as a (hunter) working for the Alchemists (the good guys), and your job, naturally, is to kill all of the creatures produced by the Wells, then to close down the Wells, and finally to track down the evil magician himself and set everything to rights.


Character Development

The Chosen includes three different characters for you to play -- Frater (a spellcaster), Elena (an archer), and Tong Wong (a fighter) -- but the character development system is basically classless, and so there is little difference between the three. Each class gets a couple of unique skills (like spellcasters getting the (mana pool) skill, which improves their mana regeneration rate) but otherwise the classes share a bunch of common skills, and so you can develop any of the characters any way you want.

Oddly, all of the skills in the game are passive, and so instead of jumping around and performing special fighting moves, you only get to do things like increase how much damage you do or how fast you run. The skills are divided into three categories (with about nine skills per category), but you can only have one skill per category active at once, meaning that you have to choose a few skills to focus on. You also get four attributes -- strength, dexterity, knowledge, and vitality -- that do about what you'd expect.

You can reach level 40 in the game, and each time you gain a level you also receive points to spend on your attributes and skills. Skills can only be advanced five times, but most skills also have prerequisites, and so the character development system, while basic, also works fairly well. It will take you until the end of the game to maximize a trio of high level skills, and at no point will you find yourself to be way more powerful than your enemies. If nothing else, Rebelmind did a good job in keeping The Chosen balanced, which is nice.


Game Mechanics

The Chosen sits squarely on the Diablo side of the fence as far as look and feel go. The camera typically gives you an overhead view of your surroundings, and you can perform most actions with a single mouse click. You left click to move and you left click to attack, and holding down the left mouse button will cause you to continue to attack (well, at least it should, but sometimes it doesn't). You can also use the right mouse button to cast spells and summon demons, and the mouse wheel to zoom or rotate the camera.