The First Templar

A true captivating story, fun for all.

By Daavpuke, Posted 19 May 2011

Note: We don’t generally do this, but given recent events, we’d just like to state that The First Templar is not Assassin’s Creed and it never aspires to become it in any way. Games come out in the same era; deal with it. That said, you can now leave or ideally enjoy reading on. Thank you.

The First Templar is an action adventure set in the Crusades era around the 13th century. Protagonist Celian d’Arestide has the critical quest to discover the Holy Grail for the Templars, which will lead him through 20 differing levels. From historical events to more obscure settings, the plot will weave a cohesive whole to some of the Church myths and legends of yore. While the conclusion isn’t as bombastic as expected, the very engaging plot has some twists that ultimately come to a satisfactory end. In this 12 hour road alone, The First Templar delivers a consistent enticement that not many other stories hold.

On this journey, Celian will be met with a companion counterpart that doesn’t always serve to his altruistic nature. Where Celian is the embodiment of purity, his ally might take some frivolities on the noble acts. His Templar comrade in particular has a bloodlust far too great for a holy man. This will result in some witty dialogue as the odd couple does a back and forth, which in turn is a nice break from seriousness and creates a new drive.

NoobFeed Review  - The First Templar
There are dark times ahead in The First Templar for these two templars.

And since there’s a good deal of dialogue amongst parties, whether they are Templar, French, Saracen or Inquisition, there will also be ample cutscenes, with proper voice acting. While these cinematic displays might be a little heavy on the bloom, they do a very good job of working around their engine’s limitations and offer pleasing scenes. However, there is a catch that this is limited to main characters, which will be polished and have better lip-syncing than their otherwise comical inferiors.

To further this graphical prowess, the medieval world itself is well rendered. And while it isn’t a top notch production, it is still well done in general, though with ample rehashing. Whether they are forests, villages or huge bastions and dungeons; the slightly faded colors of all settings portray the gloomy state of the era and this in crisp detail. Some effects, like fire, are more standard, but those are forgotten once the carved out statues, town corridors and intricate level designs start showing up.

NoobFeed Review  - The First Templar
Celian d'Arestide in The First Templar. The world is his oyster or his grail or stuff.

There is a slight obstacle in this grandeur however. The real open-ended and versatile levels will come after a more introductory, linear design where one wall can be jumped, while the other is insurmountable. Luckily, there will only be a handful of straight structures and most will make sense, because no one creates a maze with 6 exits. However, in both ends of the spectrum, a more comprehensive mini-map would’ve been great as this one is just a circle with certain items and arrows shown, but offers no real direction.

On track with the presentation, the gameplay is also well enjoyable with some great parts to boot; such as zoomed in slow motion sequences that show off brutal kills. Combat is simple yet structured with a handful of commands to strike, dodge or block, which can be done in rapid succession to keep a steady pace. This base gets layered through special moves that can be unlocked on a skill cross or board as enemies are slain. By buying new combo’s or passive traits, players can gain an upper hand and add a ton of tactics to their game, with timed critical striking or pushing opponents off ledges, for instance.  Combat is just plain fun and alternates momentum at the right times to overcome a sense of button mashing with well-structured battles.

NoobFeed Review  - The First Templar
Fire, ogre abominations and sack-headed dudes. Action aplenty in The First Templar.

To switch it up more, there are also chests spread throughout the open levels that offer some special effects or contain outfit pieces. Now, the outfits are a bit basic and they also don’t seem to have an effect on the game, but the specials are nice. As skills need to be unlocked, some chests will grant a taste of various skills, which allow for some play testing.

Some hidden treasures or tablets containing lore can be found by using a sleuthing clue system, such as uncovering and following footsteps. This also offers a very proper puzzle structure, in accordance with some decent designs. Throughout levels, the duo in question will need to come together to do some standard level pulling and work in separate sections to make the other one proceed. And while this is nothing new, The First Templar does implement this well and makes sure that the grand adventure stays fun for both single and multiplayer.

NoobFeed Review  - The First Templar
Kick some ass in The First Templar while your AI ally kicks some female ass.

But what might be the best trait from this game is how sentient the AI is in single player. When not playing along with an actual human being, it is a breath of fresh air to have an artificial comrade that can avoid traps, be a wingman in the additional Arena mode or make its way through a dungeon, without getting killed. It’s equally great that once a perilous trap section has been passed, the active player can call on their ally. The AI will do its best to overcome all obstacles unharmed, without having to do everything twice. This should become a standard in all games, not be a rare and welcome occurrence.

It’s even grander that the AI can fend for itself, as The First Templar is made for cooperative play, but falls dead short in that facet. It’s not that this section is broken or ill-designed, but actually getting to log in and play is near impossible and offers some unfriendly settings. It’s a bit of a missed opportunity, but luckily the engaging appeal of the game will never make players yearn for a human accomplice.

NoobFeed Review  - The First Templar
To conclude, enjoy some marvelous scenery from The First Templar.

The First Templar is an action packed adventure with little to no downsides and displays some remarkable things, such as open level designs, tons of interesting lore and a quality AI. Together with a great presentation, the singleplayer experience is a true captivating story, fun for all.

Gallery
My playthrough (96)

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke).

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PC
Publisher(s): Kalypso
Developer(s): Haemimont
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Historic
Release Date: 2011-05-17

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