PC/Mac/Linux
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Game Info:

Numen: Contest of Heroes
Developed by: Cinemax
Release Date: June 3, 2010
Available On: PC via Steam or Impulse
Genre: Action RPG
Single Player
ESRB Rating: N/R
Retail Price: $30

Thank you Cinemax for sending us this game to review!

The sickle of Kronos has been stolen and the Greek gods are scratching their heads wondering how it was taken and who took it.  Their solution is to each choose a mortal champion to represent them and retrieve the sickle.  Only the first mortal to complete this task shall have a wish granted.

Numen starts by having you choose a young male or a female character.  These two children are siblings and there’s some rivalry between them.  The character you choose must impress their uncle by becoming a powerful warrior, mage or a hunter.  Your class is determined by the weapons and abilities you use.  Like many action RPGs you have to walk around and talk to the villagers and complete some quests for experience and gold.  There’s plenty of caves and dungeons to explore and tons of overgrown creatures to kill.

Highlights:

Strengths: Pretty graphics, unique concept

Weaknesses: No multiplayer, short game play

Moral Warnings: Violence, magic use, serving and sacrificing to deities

At first the monsters will include huge scorpions, spiders, wolves and bandits.   As you travel, the monsters will get much more unusual and tougher to defeat.  Besides the monsters, you have eight other determined heroes looking for the sickle as well.  You can often work together but keep in mind that there’s only one winner in the end.  Your actions towards them carry consequences and can please or anger the deity you represent.

When you become an adult, you must choose which deity you wish to align yourself with.  Each god offers you unique abilities and perks.  As you grow richer and gain experience, the priest can teach you new spells and abilities.  You can also get temporary enhancements and some skills by offering chicken, goat or ox sacrifices to your god.  After you make an offering to him, you’ll lose some favor with them for annoying them.  If you went too cheap on the offering, your request will be ignored altogether.

Gaining favor from your god can be achieved by defeating a much stronger enemy, winning a duel against another hero, and lastly, practicing and winning tournaments.  Tournament battles are unique in many ways.  You can be fighting 2-3 opponents and you have a limited number of skills to use.  You don’t have access to your inventory or health.  Patrons will often throw potions but you don’t know if they contain health or poison.  During the battles there will be random ice and fire attacks.  If you don’t have the correct shield spell cast in time, you’ll be in serious pain.  Sometimes you’ll see a random portal appear; I’ve never tried it out.  Breaking out of combat mode to check out the portals or potions is a bit hard to do.  The controls and camera can be rather clunky at times.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score: 72%
Game Play: 14/20
Graphics: 9
Sound: 7/10
Stability: 3/5
Controls/Interface: 3/5

Moral Score: 62%
Violence: 4.5/10
Language: 6.5/10
Sexual Content: 8.5/10
Occult/Supernatural: 1.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 10/10

Besides the weird camera angling and auto targeting quirks, I have a couple other gripes worth mentioning.  I have experienced some crash to desktop errors.  There are some incomplete story lines when it comes to your competitors.  For example, depending on your choices some of them can die.  One character was wounded in the desert and I didn’t rescue them but they never died and were always there with no new dialogue.  Another weird glitch is that a deceased competitor magically re-spawns and goes off to die again if you re-enter the cave where you met them.  Finally, I thought it would be a nice touch to have the game mention your sibling by the term brother or sister instead of “sibling” all the time. I mean seriously, what are a few more lines of code to make the story more personal and less generic?

Other than those downfalls this game has a lot going for it.  The 3D graphics are very good with a 3rd person perspective.  The worlds offer a lot of variety from dark caves to icy mountains to scorching deserts.  At first the enemies weren’t too original with bandits and regular old wolves.  As you venture out the monsters get interesting and include giants, tree mages, mechanical humans, sand worms and more.  The spells and abilities offer a lot of eye candy.

The dungeon crawler game style never ceases to get boring as I\'m always searching to better armor or wanting to level up so I can wear some neat artifact I found.  Some of the armor is gender specific but the merchants can change that for you.  A typical battle is click, target, use a spell/effect and kill.   The boss battles are tough but they often have a weakness that can be exploited.

The sound effects are decent, but they won’t blow you away.  The background music is fitting and the sound effects are believable.  There’s not a whole lot of voice acting; most of the conversations are text boxes.  On the other hand, the cut scene voice narration is really good.
When it comes to appropriateness this game has quite a few strikes against it.  Obviously there’s violence, magic and the worship of false deities.  Then we get to add swearing to the mix and some boy showing armor for male and female characters alike.    I can understand that the desert is hot, but I wouldn’t want to be prancing around in a tiny kilt.  Later on I was able to find a big WWE style belt that covered my torso from those pesky stomach attacks.
Overall I got about twenty hours of game play, if I would have completed some of the side quests I can see spending a possible twenty five hours playing this game.  There aren’t any difficulty levels so the only replayability is to try out a different class.  Multiplayer would have been fun to do online tournament battles.  Sadly this is a single player only game.  The retail price is $30 but I have seen steam sales for 75% off; I’d wait for a sales if you don’t mind the deity issues.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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