The First Templar - That Owl Sounds Strange Edition
Let's get this out of the way first, The First Templar isn't a good game in the way that Dead Space or Gears of War is a good game, The First Templar is good because at times, it reaches the strange heights of Deadly Premonition while still providing a fairly decent story, good controls, and an interesting (better than it has every right to be) combat system. Keep that in mind while reading the rest of this review.
I wasn't necessarily anticipating The First Templar on it's release, however, I decided to do a blind buy as I was a big fan of Haemimont Games Tropico series. Not expecting much, I believe really benefited to my enjoyment of The First Templar. I wasn't expecting some extremely fluid 3rd person action like that of Ninja Gaiden or God of War, I was expecting a competent action game with a decent combat system, which luckily, The First Templar has. Combat is broken down into strong and weak attacks, specials, parries, and blocking. There is enough diversity in that combat system to keep you involved thanks to its large skill-tree and ability to switch between two differing characters in your party at almost any time.
The presentation of the The First Templar is, well, different. It looks slightly better than last gen. Mediocre graphics don't really bother me so I didn't have a problem with this. The voice acting is at times, hilariously bad and awesome. When I say hilariously bad and awesome, I mean good in the way that the dialog in The Room is good. Characters will make comments off and on that are off-the-wall, ridiculous, and borderline moronic. But this is where the game really shines. The opening of the game features a series of disconnected and poorly edited cut-scenes that almost had me rolling on the ground laughing; it was just that good in a bad way. Your character, Celian, at times sounds fairly normal and on other instances sounds like Batman. It really is great stuff. Watch out for that owl, it sounds . . . strange.
Surprisingly, the story is pretty good too, and better than I thought possible. Although the main story revolves the Holy Grail, story-twists and the overall story-arc keep the game interesting, as do the little pick-ups around the world that explain the Knights Templar and information about your game-world. In fact, I would say that the story is better than in most games today. It helps that the characters in The First Templar are both interesting as they are ridiculous. Keep a look out for the guys "SHINY THING!"
Diversity is important in any 3rd-person action game and The First Templar, at least for the first 5 hours keeps throwing different game-elements at you. Whether it's fighting a bunch of guys head on, going stealth, avoid obstacles and traps, shooting at large groups of enemies with trebuchets, or choosing to avoid or fight enemies in a "choose your action" style sequence, The First Templar has a lot to offer. I rarely found myself bored which is uncommon for a 3rd-person action game where you'll generally get tired of doing the same missions over and over again.
The First Templar could never get the critical acclaim or mass-audience due to it's low-budget status. However, if you're looking for a well-priced 3rd person action game that can at time meet some of the hilariousness of games like Deadly Premonition, check it out. Just remember, this is a low-budget title, don't go in expecting God of War.