Following the middling reception their last game received, it seems that FIVE: Guardians of David developers Kingdom Games have decided to scale down slightly. Keeping the Diablo-esque feel from the first FIVE game, FIVE: Champions of Canaan drops the different environments for a wave based arena setting instead, and tells the story of a young warrior with a legacy to honour.
I think. I found the story really hard to follow because it only appeared for a little while, and then disappeared. There was definitely something about the protagonist’s father being dead, and us taking up his mantle in the arena, and some of the arena fights had cutscenes that seemed to suggest that the people who thought they were in charge weren’t. But after about two hours I didn’t hear any more of the story, and I played for eight hours total.
I only did that because the core gameplay loop is very moreish, and I found myself wanting to play the next level at the end of the last. I chose to use the bow and arrow - obviously - and found that the arrows automatically have a piercing effect, so standing still and firing into a crowd slimmed down the enemies significantly. Canaan also does a great job of giving the player very strong gear, and I never felt like I was in any real danger from the hordes of enemies.
That’s not to say that the controls are any good: I started off with keyboard/mouse but soon found that I needed to switch to a controller. With the keyboard/mouse controls the mouse controlled targeting and movement, except it wasn’t responsive and it made it hard to target enemies off-screen to make full use of the bow’s range. Switching to the controller didn’t help a huge amount, since I discovered that you can’t move while firing. Adding to how terrible the aim-assist is, sometimes switching target because a new enemy spawned, made playing this occasionally extremely frustrating.
Each weapon gives the player five different abilities, and with the bow these all felt over-animated. One was supposed to make you deal more damage, but activating put you into a five second animation that you can’t cancel, by which point any range you had between your enemies is gone. The last ability unlocked had a similar casting animation, but this at least tended to kill the majority of targets it hits with one arrow, giving the player some time to run.
There is a levelling system, but this only serves to slightly increase the player’s stats. Canaan has three statistics, and it gives you three points each level, so I just increased them all by one rank each level. There’s no skill tree or anything outside of this to give the player real choice, which is something I really expect from RPG systems these days. The game also only gives the player experience at the end of a level, and you don’t really get anything for killing enemies which isn’t hugely satisfying.
There is a patronage system outside of the game, but this only seems to serve emptying the player’s inventory as one of the patrons takes armour and weapon. Giving enough to the patrons does something, but I never really noticed any real change in the game. This is echoed throughout the gameplay; everything is repetitive and while I enjoyed the time I’ve spent with it, I have no real desire to go back.
I should though: the game set up an interesting world and had the story not disappeared I probably would have suffered the poor controls and kept playing. There were so many different arenas greyed out on the in-game map, with the words “coming soon” under them but this isn’t an Early Access game, this is supposedly the final release. The only target I could see was the 100 round limit on the arena I could use, but after eight hours I hadn’t reached round 50 and my patience was worn through.
FIVE: Champions of Canaan (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
Terrible controls and poor progression - with story threads left hanging with no sign of resolution and no variation in level design - spoil a game I was immensely enjoying playing.