Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest (Hands-On Preview)

If anyone could make another great game for the PlayStation Move, it would be the team behind its best game so far. Rather than knock out Sports Champions 2, Zindagi Games have opted for a fun action title. You might recognise parts of the game from the early tech demos for the PlayStation Move back at E3 2009. It’s good to see that demo become a full game, we’re just surprised it took this long.

Medieval Moves is a first-person action adventure game with movement around the game world taking place automatically and the action kicking off between stops. This leaves your hands free to concentrate on using your weapons and other cool gadgets to get through the medieval settings against an army of skeleton warriors and other ghoulish foes.

If you’ve had a look at the screenshots, you’ll be able to see it’s not exactly Skyrim as it’s aimed at a family friendly audience that favours soft textures and comedy characters. Don’t let the visuals fool you into thinking this is another just-for-kids title though as this could be one of the most immersive titles yet for the Move.

Medieval Moves manages to pull together various attacking styles, all with one controller without ever become a messy finger-tangling experience. Sword attacks require simple swings while using the shield is as simple as holding the trigger and moving your arm in line with which area of your body you want to defend. It all works in true 1-1 fashion with no sign of lag.

Other weapons include the bow which is initiated by holding the trigger while you put your hand by your shoulder to ‘reach for an arrow,’ and you release the trigger once you’ve lined up your shot, pressing the Move button will allow you to zoom in to perfect headshots on any hiding enemies. Shurikens, or throwing stars if you prefer, are thrown using a frisbee motion in collaboration with the trigger. It can take a while to get used to the aiming, as you don’t have a set of crosshairs, once it clicks it feels very rewarding because of the extra skill required.

If your aim with the throwing stars is good enough, you’ll find them faster to use than the bow, which comes in handy when you want to take out enemies heading at you with a barrel of TNT. They’re also great for quickly picking up items that are only briefly on screen.

A grappling hook is used to climb and pull apart destructible scenery while milk (like health packs) requires a physical drinking motion with the Move button held down. Other controls involve holding out your arms to balance on beams or twisting the controller to line up parts of a lock and other similar puzzles. Hopefully there will be plenty of variety in the full game and the puzzles should be a welcome break from the combat, which could be hard work on the arms after a while.

The commands are easy to remember, as they feel just like the real thing would. It’s seriously impressive how intuitive and simple they are despite the large number of tools at your disposal. You won’t miss an inventory or equipment menu at all and the pace of the game is all the better for not using one.

If you have two controllers you can use them for the bow, dual-wielding the sword and shield, and even firing shurikens from each hand, although you might look like you’re playing on an invisible mixing desk. Close the curtains people. Usually I always go for the dual controller option when it’s available, especially with Sports Champions, but when this game works so well with one, I’d be tempted to change my ways. It’s rare that both of them are charged enough to play at my house anyway.

During our presentation, we were shown a previously unseen level in a vineyard. Being the first area we’ve seen outside of the spooky castle tower, and in full daylight no less, the brighter environments were very impressive. There was no time to search for a cheeky barrel of merlot though as the pesky skeleton warriors were still in a cranky-stabby mood. A new enemy type came out to play too, a flying skeleton in a rickety helicopter contraption that wouldn’t cause much concern apart from the gatling gun it carries. Take THAT historical accuracy!

Another new element this level showed was multiple routes. The game might be on-rails but being able to choose which path you want to take at various junctions will help to add some extra replayability.

To finish the presentation we were shown a boss fight against a large ghoulish chef with mechanical tentacle arms. He attacked in patterned staged, starting with throwing pots and pans that can be blocked with Deadmund’s shield. The chef must then be distracted by hitting pop-up targets on his stove that turn up the heat and threaten to ruin his food. Once his back is turned you can fire arrows at his Doc Ock arms to remove them one by one before going head to head with him directly.

When I quizzed Zindagi Games about multiplayer modes they said there would be both online and offline options that would feature modes tailored for both competitive and co-op modes. Sports Champions didn’t have any online features, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Move and Zindagi Games cope with the challenge. So far, so good though.

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest is currently on course for a release this November.

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