It wasn’t all that long ago that video games were mostly “pop in a quarter” arcade distractions that kept you involved only as long as the change in your pocket held out. Nowadays that’s a rarity. Today’s titles—from shooters to platformers to puzzlers—generally deliver immersive worlds that can swallow a gamer whole for days, weeks and months at a time.
Two Worlds II takes that gobble-up-your-life creed to heart. This third-person RPG offers up a huge open sandbox of a world and an expansive tale that, while not the most creative or unique story ever told, certainly can keep you battling and conjuring for quite some time.
Like the original, part deux of the Two Worlds saga takes place in a magic-filled fantasy kingdom of Antaloor, complete with Orcs, dragons and a dark swirling spirituality. Gamers play as a princely guy who’s being held captive with his sister by an evil wizard king named Gandohar, who wants to rule everything with a metal-clawed fist.
Even though this at first appears to be a familial power play on the wizard’s part, the opening cutscenes reveal that it’s actually just Sis the bad guy is interested in. She turns out to be a vessel of sorts that holds the essence of a fire-god named Aziroth. The prince? Well, he’s got his own strengths, but he’s mostly being kept around so that Gandohar can drain his life force through pentagram-patterned spells—keeping the weakening sister from succumbing. But that’s all about to change. Rescued from his captor by an underground group of Orcs, the prince sets off on a series of quests that will allow him to hopefully defeat the wizard and free his failing sister before it’s too late.
Same Old Grind
That may sound like a heroic adventure, but the game’s heroism quotient tends to wane quickly. Like many current RPGs, you’re allowed to make decisions that will shape you as a good guy or a lout, but it’s pretty quickly evident that none of that really matters. The main thrust here is to run around this vast digital world and grind away at relatively bland magical and sword-slashing quests that reward you with bits of info about evil happenings and eventually lead to a big boss showdown.
That’s not to say there isn’t some fun to be had. The weapons-improving mechanic, for instance, has a certain appeal—allowing you to break down accumulated equipment into raw materials that can bolster your best armor and weapons. And a few of the missions do stand out. A “Holy Cave” challenge, for instance, turns into an Indiana Jones riff complete with a Sean Connery sound-alike. And a riddle-posing Black Knight, à la Monty Python, shows up to generate a grin or two.
Other quests are far less smile-worthy. From hacking through hordes of oozing-flesh creatures to performing thug services for a mob organization to slogging through a college campus sequence that involves teacher/student sex and a student escort service, the going can be tedious and twisted.
No Quarter for the Discerning
Numerous sexual conversations cover topics of homosexuality, prostitution and rape. One physical interlude involves your character and a naked female with only strategic bits of skin covered. (Intercourse occurs offscreen.) And that’s not even mentioning the random female characters who go about with most of their breasts hanging out of their tops.
Occult rituals are almost as common around the kingdom as the need to kill in various slashing, stabbing, freezing, burning and dead-summoning ways. And gamers even have the option to craft their own dark magickings. Add in the frequent inclusion of profanity in the dialogue (including f- and s-words, and uses of “d‑‑n,” “a‑‑,” “b‑‑ch,” “b‑‑tard” and “h‑‑‑”) and you’ve got a shadowy saga that will have you wincing between yawns.
This 40-plus hour ordeal may be more detailed than the quarter-eaters of old. But at least Mario never met busty temptresses, spurted gore or hit you with a demonic incantation. And Donkey Kong always left you with plenty of time for supper after his last chucked barrel.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.