Two thousand years ago, Jesus drank from a cup. Such a commonplace action may seem trivial, but it transformed an ordinary chalice into the Holy Grail. This sacred object has fueled the desire of countless historians through the years and has wormed its way into just as many fictional tellings of its supposed powers. The First Templar uses the unimaginable delights promised by the Holy Grail to push you through this action-focused role-playing game. The Knights Templar, sworn protectors of this coveted prize, prove they are as susceptible to temptation as every other person, and though the story provides enough twists to stay interesting, it's the varied gameplay and enchanting visuals that make this a journey worth taking. A dearth of items means you're stuck with only a few weapons and outfits for the whole game, and spotty collision detection can hound your progress at times. But The First Templar rises above these problems to create an enjoyable adventure through the turbulent 13th century.
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The Holy Grail is a siren song that's difficult to get out of your head. Whether you want to steal this precious artifact for altruistic or selfish ends doesn't matter; it's worth dying for. And it's certainly worth killing for. You assume the role of the valiant knight Celian. The cross emblazoned on his chest is more than just a symbol; it's an outline for his way of life. Peace and well-being are his guiding ideals, though he isn't afraid to bloody his sword when evil presents itself. He is joined in this adventure by two other would-be heroes, though neither is as unrelentingly pure as the protagonist. Roland is a fellow Templar whose abrasive persona makes him a poor diplomat at best. Marie is loyal to her friends, but she rarely offers help for those in need. There's a believable repartee between these characters that makes them easy to grow attached to as you accompany them on their journey. Surprisingly, there are bits of humor sprinkled throughout your exploits. Non sequiturs such as "We will not negotiate with marauders" crop up at unexpected moments, and they provide levity to a mostly serious tale.
Combat is the focus of this roughly 12-hour-long adventure. Basic attacks are handled by clicking the mouse, though there is more complexity than just swinging your sword without a clear plan. Enemies are keen on slaying anyone who clicks without forethought, and it takes only a few solid hits in the early going to arrive at death's door. Because of this, you need to balance your offensive attacks and defensive maneuvers to stay alive. Blocking and dodging are an integral part of your repertoire, and smart use of these along with sure-handed sword strikes gives combat an enticing rhythm. If you time your swings correctly, your blows become more powerful, so it's important to keep your cool instead of clicking away as fast as possible. You unlock more attacks as you earn experience, and these help keep things varied. A shoulder charge or a spinning whirlwind gives you room when you're surrounded, and a two-handed strike can smash a shield in two. There isn't much challenge once you understand how to fight, but The First Templar stays interesting partly because of the flourish kills you perform at random intervals. Crashing your shield down onto someone's trachea or performing a karate kick of death provides enough thrills to keep things moving.
It may ruin the environment, but nothing is quite as beautiful as a burning forest.