When it comes to squeezing potential out of the Playstation Move, you don't need to look much further than Zindagi Games and San Diego Studio. They're the driving force behind Sports Champions: Move's erstwhile tech demo that still provides the most competent and impressive showcase of the peripheral's abilities. The certainly know their way around balls, wands and cameras [sounds a bit like Boogie Nights - Ed], and their upcoming title is set to merge mechanical precision with accessible thrills.
Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest is the natural evolution of Sports Champions into a game with story and purpose. An evil wizard, Morgrimm, is taking over the kingdom with an undead army and has killed the heroic and handsome Prince Edmund in the process. However, death is no obstacle to our protagonist - who manages to shed his skin, become a skeleton (renaming himself "Deadmund" in the process) and proceeds to pursue Morgrimm through the blighted castle. Though the story may sound a little heavy, Medieval Moves is definitely aimed at a younger market... and yet promises to appeal to pretty much anyone thanks to a cute art style and razor-sharp underlying mechanics.
As the camera trundles along on pre-set rails, players have three basic attacks at their disposal: the sword, throwing stars and archery. Zindagi Games are throwing everything they have into ensuring that attacks are immediately triggered by appropriate 1:1 movements and gestures rather than clumsy switching mechanics, resulting in an experience that genuinely uses the PS Move to advantage.
It's basically the melee equivalent of Sorcery. Which, worryingly, has completely dropped off the radar.
First up, the sword is the most intuitive and accessible of the three weapons. You'll simply need to swing or thrust the Move Controller in the appropriate direction with as much gusto as possible. The swordplay is 1:1 in terms of weapon position, direction and relative power, meaning that even the most staunch pacifists will soon be chopping through undead swordsmen like a pro. You've also got a shield, which is one of the few gestures that requires you to hold a button down. Doing so brings up a translucent on-screen outline that you can aim simply by - say it with me - moving your arm. You'll need to both time and aim blocks effectively, especially when fending off hails of arrows from distant archers or the ruinous melee swipes of the Brute-class enemies. These armoured bruiers can take can dish out and take a lot of damage, but are vulnerable when counterattacked. If Deadmund does end up taking a beating, players can consume potions by lifting the controller up to their mouths like they're downing a pint.
Melee combat is tight and solid, but Deadmund will live longer if you dispatch enemies at range. To this end, you've got an unlimited supply of throwing stars that can be deployed simply by holding the trigger and flicking your wrist. Just like throwing a deadly, prickly frisbee. A surprising degree of spin can be added to these projectiles, and they can be thrown as fast as you can waggle (letting you stun and kill distant foes or shatter scenery objects for hidden items), but it's worth noting that calibration has never been more important. The slightest misstep in the calibration procedure can cause your stars to spin wildly off target.
Archery, from what I played at least, was by far the most satisfying of Deadmund's abilities. You'll reach behind your shoulder to grab an imaginary bow from your nonexistant quiver, at which point your arm becomes an deadly accurate and responsive aiming device. Releasing the trigger fires the arrow towards the on-screen reticle (which is controlled by the most subtle and natural motions), resulting in a weapon that can be used to snipe foes from across the room or wait until the last second before killing enemies at point blank range. The quiver gesture might sound aggravating, but it genuinely improves the sense of immersion. Seriously, you might look a bit silly, but you'll feel like Robin Hood. Without the tights. Probably.
The fighting, then, is exceptional, immersive and fantastic fun. However, players will frequently be stopped in their tracks by basic puzzles that revolve around precision shooting or balancing on precarious tightropes. The solid mechanics mean that these puzzles are fun to complete once... but if handled improperly, will drastically limit the amount of replayability on offer. Here's hoping that the finished article will feature multiple routes and plentiful secrets.
Medieval Moves: Deadmund's Quest is shaping up to be a fun diversion that utilises the Playstation Move peripheral to its fullest. We're looking forward to seeing whether it will be a great game as well.