Version Played: Xbox 360
Current CEX Price: £1.50

Right from the beginning of Rise of the Argonauts, it’s clear that the developers at Liquid Games took quite a bit of inspiration from Zack Snyder’s movie, 300 – a movie filled with hugely OTT violence, mostly shown in slow motion. Based on Frank Miller’s oversized and similarly bombastic comic book, 300 was strikingly accurate – mostly in terms of visuals – to the source material.

A similarly violent approach is adopted in Rise of the Argonauts, a sword-and-sandals, Greek mythology-based epic published by Codemasters. Though – especially as I was already familiar with the original comic – I expected the carnage in Zack Snyder’s movie, I was really taken aback by the level of gore in Rise of the Argonauts. It really is something else; limbs are lopped off, bodies dismembered – all with copious volumes of blood spraying everywhere and appropriately gushing, squishy, wet sound effects.

The problem we have is that we’re barely introduced to the characters before everything goes south. Though main character, Jason, is given motivation to go on the murderous rampage that opens the game (his newlywed wife is executed – at their wedding), this is hardly in keeping with the expectation that he – and his friends, such as the larger-than-life Hercules – are noble heroes. It just feels incredibly gratuitous and in all honesty, it’s also unintentionally funny – especially as the game is so straight-faced. The absurdity of the hacking and slashing is seemingly an attempt to be edgy. In truth, it’s about as edgy as a sphere.

Past the gory opening, we settle into a rhythm of talking to characters (with a branching dialogue system) and upgrading skills and equipment, as well as lots and lots of combat. Though billed on the box as an action-RPG, everything seems so simplified that it definitely feels a lot more like a third-person action game with minor RPG elements.

Unfortunately the dialogue and lip-syncing leave a lot to be desired; along with the unintentionally funny gore, this adds another layer of campiness to the proceedings – despite the attempts to play the material deadly straight.

That said, the combat is pretty satisfying, if a little repetitive, but it really is solid and crunchy (or should that be squishy, given the gore?). Even though there’s a repertoire of moves, it feels like there’s little need to use much beyond the basic attacks – so it’s great that there’s a satisfying heft to the combat.

I’ve not played much beyond the first few hours, but the true Bargain Bin test is whether or not I think I’ve got value for money from it even now – and the answer is yes! This is another game I would have ignored at full price – and which I don’t think would have been worth it anyway. For a quid and a half, however, even just mucking about with it for the first few hours, slicing and dicing enemies with the ridiculously explicit gore makes it totally worth the current cost of entry. Plus, I’m definitely invested enough to continue playing. Whether the swords, sandals, gore and Gorgons are enough to keep my interest until the end of the game remains to be seen, however.

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