Enclave is a fantasy-themed third-person hack-and-slash game that looks great, sounds good, and offers a great story mode. It offers a slew of different playable characters, a multitude of weapons and magical items, and two long and interesting campaigns. But it also has a number of serious flaws, primarily its temperamental control, its unforgiving difficulty level, and its lack of a decent save feature. Some may be able to overlook these issues, but chances are a good number won't be able to forgive the incredibly high level of difficulty--or, rather, be forgiven by it, especially considering the inability to save in the middle of the game's long levels. These problems combine to make an often-frustrating style of trial-and-error gameplay.
You'll be struck by Enclave's impressive visuals.
The game is made up entirely of a single-player story mode that is divided into two campaigns: light and dark. Initially, you'll only be able to play the light campaign, which needs to be completed to unlock the dark campaign. In both cases, the world of Enclave has been split by a great rift to separate a number of dark forces from the land of Celenheim. The rift has split the world into two sections: One is the land of Celenheim, in which humans and other denizens enjoy a society of relative peace. The other is a place in which the outlanders live--a dark land filled with evil creatures that hate everything Celenheim stands for. In the light campaign, you'll play as a number of heroes who must find the wizard Zale and destroy the demon Vatar, the leader of the outlanders. Once you've completed the light campaign, you'll be able to switch sides and play as a number of the evil outlanders in an attempt to pillage and destroy Celenheim.
In both cases, as you progress through the game, you'll rescue other characters from monsters or from other forms of certain doom. These characters will then join your party and become available in the character selection screen at the beginning of each level. Each character you acquire will be of a different class and have unique skills and abilities. For example, the character you begin with, the knight, is skilled with melee weapons and can take more of a beating than the other characters. The first character you unlock is a huntress, who is quite skilled with ranged weapons and can use a variety of lethal arrows that other characters can't. You'll also join up with a druid and a wizard, both of whom can use powerful magical staffs but have much less health than most other characters and perform poorly in melee combat. Other characters include a halfling, who is a much nimbler version of the knight and favors large battle axes, and an engineer, who can use timed bombs and grenades.
Awkward controls and cheap kills make Enclave less than fun at times.
As a hero of Celenheim, you'll face everything from goblinlike underlings to elemental monstrosities and towering demons. Some of your opponents are easy enough to handle in close quarters, while others require some fancy defensive footwork to dispatch. In cases when you catch them unaware, you can try to kill them instantly with ranged weapons. The problem is that the ranged attacks of enemies are just as effective against you. The bow and crossbow are damaging enough in the hands of weaker characters like the snotling, but when utilized by specialized enemies such as assassins, they become lethal. In some cases, assassins will kill you outright before you even know where they're hiding. This results in embarrassing and frustrating moments such as taking an arrow in the skull when you're peeking around a corner or being suddenly cut down while walking toward a structure in the distance. Some of your characters have shields and other such modes of defense that do well to prevent damage from this sort of attack, but others have a much weaker defense against it. What this leaves you to do is try to figure out which class of character is best for each level.
That's where the trial-and-error element starts to come into play. Prior to starting a level, you'll have no information about it, so you're left to jump in blindly and hope the character you've chosen was the wisest option. And no matter which character you pick, or how familiar you are with the game and its control, you will die over and over again. Death simply cannot be avoided in Enclave. The gameplay is brutally heavy-handed. In some levels, there are traps or other environmental hazards that spring up just prior to the completion of a level, seemingly to rob you of a victory. What's even worse is that once you've cleared an apparently impassable obstacle, more often than not, you'll be cut down by the next--and the next. Whenever you die, you start the level over, and the levels can take a very long time to get through from start to finish. Some players may enjoy the extremely steep difficulty level, but most will probably throw up their hands, or throw down their controllers, in frustration.