Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Adrenium
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: Teen

Often games are dismissed as mild entertainment, a placebo for the mind and an escapist pastime that accomplishes nothing. To those critics, I would most happily point out that constant negative reinforcement may very well save our entire world. Take, for example, the lesson so often learned and most recently reiterated in the Microsoft-published, Adrenium-developed Azurik: Rise of Perathia. This lesson reads as such: never, under any circumstance whatsoever, even if it seems like a good idea at the time, should you place the elemental balance of your world into a collection of easily stolen artifacts. Obviously, this is an important maxim, and some would argue that the fact that our culture has hit the point where we can support video games technologically is a direct result of our world’s strict no elemental artifact policy.

Azurik: Rise of Perathia, however, let that cat out of the bag and you’ll get a chance to see the troubles this sort of thing can cause in Azurik: Rise of Perathia for the Xbox. According to the back story, six elemental guardians were forged by a mysterious race of god-like beings known as the ancients. These guardians happily monitored the world from their own elemental realms and worked together to maintain balance and integrity. As such things do, though, the center could not hold and as the ancients’ culture descended into war, the elemental guardians eventually rose up to destroy their masters. In a last ditch effort to save their creation, the ancients unleashed a powerful spell that bound the guardians to elemental disks and forced them again into protecting the realm of Perathia. With this act, the ancients’ power was finally exhausted, and their traditions have become the object of study by a group of warrior monks called the Lore Guardians.

Azurik, our hero, is the youngest of these guardians and a protégé of the current guild leader. Standing between these two is Balthazar, a Lore Guardian who makes his masters nervous with his desire for power and his overly honed martial skills. After a brief scuffle between Balthazar and Azurik, Balthazar discovers the Death disk, which it turns out has been missing for more than five-hundred years; thus allowing the Guardian of Death to run unchecked. With a distinct sense of preordained and planned events, the Death Guardian appears to Balthazar and offers him the power he craves in return for bringing all the disks to the Death realm. Obviously, there’s a battle as Balthazar is caught stealing the disks and the titanic magics shatter the disks and fling them to the outer realms. With this, your quest as Azurik begins by hunting the lost fragments in a desperate effort to restore the balance of your world.

Azurik: Rise of Perathia ScreenshotAs Azurik, you will have access to several key skills, the most useful of which is the simple ability to move. Running, jumping, rolling clear of enemy attacks and so forth proves to be a vital skill, as the elemental realms’ magical natures mean that things aren’t always constructed according to standard procedure. Azurik can also move quite adeptly through water, swimming deep and easily through the waves without worrying too much about air. Of course, even though Balthazar was the unequalled master of weapons, our hero is no slouch either, and he is able to wield a bladed staff with considerable skill. The basic attack for this staff is a simple thrust: Quick and efficient, this jab can be chained into attacks, and the final swing of each four-part combo will usually be enough to stun your opponent. When surrounded, though, it’s often more advisable to proceed straight to the slash moves, which whirl the staff around you, usually hitting anyone unfortunate enough to be in its path.