Enclave HD Review
Originally developed by Starbreeze Studios, Enclave HD has been given an upgrade courtesy of Ziggurat Games. It has been 21 years since Enclave originally launched – a title I fondly remember playing. The question, of course, is how well has the plight of Celenheim from the dark forces of Vatar held up?
The central crux of Enclave HD revolves around the classic battle of light and dark. To save Celenheim from Vatar and his dark legion of Dreg’Atar, the wizard Zale cracked the world in two to save his people. Those who serve the dark still seek vengeance against the light, and so you must stop them once and for all. Enclave HD is played across two campaigns; one for each faction. The Light campaign sets up the narrative of defending against impending doom. Players take the role of classic good guys such as humans, elves, and gnomes. The further into the campaign you play, the more playable classes you can unlock as you set out to defeat the Dreg’Atar.
Play Both Sides of the War Between Celenheim and the Dreg’Atar
Upon completing this campaign, you’ll then unlock The Dark campaign. If you ever wanted to be evil, this is your chance to do so. Playing the Dreg’Atar gives players access to goblins, assassins, orcs, and other foul baddies. One of my favorite features of Enclave HD stems from reusing certain locations and missions from the enemies’ perspective. For the Light, you may need to escort a vital character through a town. Playing as the Dark, you must now assassinate this NPC and defeat their bodyguard. It is a neat tool to play both sides of the encounter. While this isn’t new by today’s standards, it was brilliant to see in the early 2000s.
Enclave used to have a few simple tricks to play the Dark campaign first; namely a button input or starting a file with a specific name. I tried these methods out and neither option worked, leaving me to have to complete the Light campaign before I could access the Dark. It was disappointing as I remember playing both campaigns simultaneously, swapping back and forth between each faction, and having a blast doing so.
Each mission is hiding a certain amount of gold which functions as Enclave HD’s collectibles. The more gold you find, the more you have to spend on better armor and weapons. Each mission lets you alter your load-out, selling items back for the value you purchased them to put towards something better. These improvements prove significant at higher levels. Moving from one sword to the next strongest one can be the difference between life and death.
Enclave HD is Enhanced, But Not Remastered
As noted, this IS still a game from 2003. The upgrades, while notable, are still somewhat slim. Metal surfaces and water look much better. The soundtrack is greatly improved featuring new music and effects. The enhancements, however, end there. Characters and the environment are still blocky as was normal for the time. All menus and cutscenes have also been left to their original appearance which proved more jarring than I expected.
Combat can prove a bit tedious in more ways than one. If you are defeated before finding a checkpoint, the mission fails and you can either restart or quit. If you do find a checkpoint, however, you have unlimited lives and will respawn on death. I greatly appreciate not losing my progress and having to start over and it feels like that should be the norm here. I do enjoy the arcade-like nature of the game, but a few QOL changes could have done wonders for the experience.
Enclave HD’s enemies have inconsistent hitboxes which feel clunky and uncomfortable. Many enemies, such as goblins, are shorter than the player. They require more precise aiming to attack while they easily pick away at your health. The trouble is there is no consistent way to aim. You can look around, but in melee combat, there is no means of knowing which blow will land. Ranged combat is notably better, with a green dot reticle and a circle that appears over enemies being targeted.
Swinging For the Fences in Combat
The AI in Enclave HD can be just as hit or miss as your sword. Some enemies will remain motionless while being attacked, while others will be incredibly aggressive. I appreciate the varied challenge to keep the player on their toes, but it felt inconsistent. Ranged enemies are also able to hit like a sledgehammer, even with the best armor.
At a later level, with the best equipment, I entered a small room with a very high ceiling. Two archers appeared at the top on opposite sides, so I could only see one at a time. Each arrow took a sizeable chunk of my HP, and they were able to rapid-fire. I was easily killed, yet the level had no checkpoint yet, so I had to restart because its difficult to even see them. This kind of cheap combat difficulty came up a few times in Enclave HD’s Light Campaign.
Despite the game being an enhanced release, it has its fair share of issues that ought to have been addressed. Mission objectives are very unclear, with some only progressing through sheer luck. Tasks are not explained, leaving the player uncertain about what to do and how to do it. This extends to weapons and armor. Your gear has a name and a sentence of description, but nothing that explains what it actually does. Some weapons appear to have combos and unique skills, but you won’t know until you put it in your loadout and play a mission. Enclave HD has certain levels where players can swim and if you thought aiming a sword was tough, wait until you end up underwater.
In Desperate Need of QOL
I also, unfortunately, had Enclave HD crash on me a handful of times. It was always after completing a mission, but some of those times it hadn’t saved. This means I have to replay the full mission I just did and hope it doesn’t crash again.
I was ecstatic to see Enclave HD coming back. I have such fond memories of playing it twenty years ago, and I knew I was going into it with rose-tinted glasses; the characters, the levels, the gear, everything. We didn’t need Enclave HD to be a full-blown remaster, but with a little more love it could be something truly great. An homage to classic fantasy and adventure games. I enjoyed my time playing Enclave only because I already knew the game. I don’t feel like enough improvements have been made to hold a modern audience, regardless of how fun it used to be.
**PS4 code provided by the publisher**
- Varied Classes
- Enhanced Visuals
- Dual Campaigns
- Poor AI
- Missing Serious Quality of Life
- Outdated Combat