Overview: I personally have never played any of the Heroes of Might and Magic franchise. I won't be talking much about the rest of the series seeing as i'm unfamiliar with it, but if you'd like to read about it yourself, here is the wikipedia page. This game is apparently different in style and function than the rest of the series. Chronologically, it is between Heroes of Might and Magic IV and V, taking place 40 years before the events of V. Luckily, this game is so easy to pick up without having to play any other game in the series, working as a nice stand alone with a great story that doesn't rely on any prior knowledge. The game was first released on the DS in December 2009 for North America, then on the XBLA and PS3 in April 2011. It was then ported to windows in September of that year and became available on IOS in January 2013 and Android just this past June.
Plot: The game begins with a female narrator explaining the history of the game. This video shows the beginning cinematic up until about 2:00 in, then shows the first part of the game play and tutorial section. The story then follows the elf, Anwen, as she attempts to avenge the death of her father and the others. She enlists the help of her cousin, Findan, and discovers that demons are attempting to turn the elves and the Griffin empire against each other to start a war. They then have to stop the Griffin empire from destroying the Druid tree and then she discvers Godric is still alive so she must save him from the demons. This then allows Godric to return home and deal with his own problems. Each character-Anwen, Godric, Fiona, Aidan, and Nadia, have an individual story line that all tie together perfectly. You get to play as each character, experiencing a new and exciting place each time. I wont cover each person's story here, but play it to experience them all. 9.5
|A battle in multiplayer mode|
Game play: The game is technically a puzzle strategy adventure game in which you try to create forces, walls, and special forces on a 6X8 grid. In order to create a force, you have to get 3 units of the same color in a column. A wall is created by getting 3 or more units of the same color in a row. A special unit is 2x1 or 2x2 and has to be "built." In order to build a special unit, you have to put 2 units (for a 2x1 special unit such as a ghost, deer, unicorn, etc.) or 4 for a 2x2 special unit such as a dragon, phoenix angel, wraith, etc. You also have a magic move which is special to each character For example, in the picture we see a match (most likely online) in which one character (the one on top) is Findan, whereas the player is Ludmilla. You see the health bar, for both characters at 100/100, and either above or below it, a black square with a symbol. Ludmilla's has a small sliver of blue. This is the square representing magic. As a player takes damage, preforms combos, or deletes units, they fill their magic bar. Once full, they can unleash it without taking up a turn. Ludmilla's for example is a swarm of spiders that attacks the enemy, whereas Findan's speeds up the time it takes for a unit to attack. The game uses a simple button scheme using just the d-pad or joystick to move, A to interact to move an object, B to delete units or decline prompts, Y to use magic, X to end your turn to get extra magic, the triggers to call in more forces, and the bumpers to see the stats on the screen.The game has a great feature that also allows you to decline a battle. If you are only a level 1 or 2, there is no way to win against an enemy that is level 5, no matter how good you are, so you can decline the battle and come back to that point later! This game also doesn't require "grinding" in the same way other games do. There is always some enemy your level you can defeat and you level at a nice pace. The game also has straight up puzzle mini games that can be played to win artifacts that help you in battle which can be seen above the magic bar. These mechanics make it easy for anyone to pick up and play almost anytime and even allows you to save anywhere outside of battle. 9
|Godric of the Griffin Empire|
Graphics: Do i even need to talk about these? These graphics are perfectly adorable. The sprites move all the time, the characters look fantastic, and the narated portions that have a slow moving cinematic really give this game a life and vibrance i love. No matter where you are, wether it's the green and bright forests of Irrolan or the dark, green and purple lands of Heresh, the color scheme is always perfect, never too dark or splotchy. The characters also have overworld sprites that move perfectly and look great. My favorite thing though as to be the scenes that involve talking seeing as every single one has the full length pictures of the characters. I mean, just look at this cutie!! You get to see that adorable face every time you have a conversation as him or with him. 9.5
Sound: The game's music is amazing. Each world has a special sound to it. There are pieces that even have singing and sound carefully orchestrated. The music in the over world sets the tone; if you need to save the druid tree, the music is urgent and exciting, but if you just need to explore the city for a bit, it's calmer and still engaging. The sound effects are also perfect. Each type special unit has an individual sound and visual for it's attack that really fit the character. Vampires have an evil cackle and a whisp like sound, while deer snort and leap over the walls of enemies. The music isn't exactly, zelda or mario levels of memorable, but when playing it, you find yourself humming along occasionally. 8
Script and Writting: This game is hilarious. It's got hilarious lines like "we will stab him with our elfy-daggers" and "take these bears, we might run into trouble." It's not the quirkiest game or the funniest, but i did really enjoy a lot of what the characters had to say, reading it every time i played through. I also did like that the game WASN'T fully voice acted. Most games would have a quarrel with this, but having just the narrator and then the text beeping sound let me imagine what the characters sounded like based on what they looked like and not have it ruined by maybe bad voice acting. This game was great fun and had some amazing plot twists and a great over all story! 9
Modes: This game not only has a great story mode, but t has a multiplayer and a quick battle mode. Quick play mode allows you to pick any of the 5 original character, 5 unlockable characters, or 4 DLC characters (the villains like Ludmilla), to play as. The game then randomly selects an opponent from the same list you have. You then get to pick your line up just as you would in the story mode and your artifacts (any you have unlocked in game) and play against the other character. This is great for when you just want to test your skills against the AI that has magic unlike most enemies in the game. The multiplayer mode has a local and online feature. In online mode, you can unlock more artifacts to use and level up, facing people all over the world. However, this game has a few very loyal players who are level 100 and 50 and such, but not a lot of lower level players, so this can be kind of a problem. The local feature allows you to either play against your friends as different or even the same character or with them as the same type (knights, necromancers, elves, etc.) in a 2 v. 2 versus the AI! This adds a set of new mechanics to the game like only being able to move units of your color. I play it with my sister constantly! 8.5
Replay-ability: This game is so addictive, i'm playing it right now for my 4th run through of the game. This game has so much charm and awesomeness, it's so easy to play over and over again. I love this game. There are also achievments for things like leveling up all of you units all theway which give you incentive to go back and play as other characters. There are generally 10 or more artifacts per kingdom, 3 different minor units, and 5 special units that can allow for tons of different play styles! The game's wit and graphics make me come crawling back often to play at least a quick game! However, every time you restart, you have to go through the tutorial battle like in the video which you can skip the instructions, but are still mind-numbing. 9
Boss Battles Spoilers?: Each section has a boss battle at the end that really feels full-filling as a game.
|Azexes overworld sprite with Anwen and Findan|
Downsides SPOILERS: Although this game is great and i sing a lot of praise for it, there are some problems i have with it. First of all, the load times. Loading screens can range from short ones between areas that are about 5 to 10 seconds, to long pauses that last anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or maybe more. It can feel like an eternity. Occasionally it'll give you useful tips during this screen so early in the game, they're a kind of blessing, but later, it gets repetative and annoying. Also, when entering a new area, such as leaving Irollan for the Griffin empire, you are set back to level one with no units. It makes sense and the game is fair, giving you all the chances you need to level up, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. As mentioned above, you also have to redo the tutorial in the first stage every time you restart the game. Luckily, after the one in Irollan, here are no more tutorials. SPOILERS AHEAD!! Finally, the final kingdom, the Silver Cities, is a bit of a let down. The rest of the game makes you work, explore large areas, go on branching paths, collecting bounties and doing puzzles to get items, but the Silver Cities practically hand you everything. The stage is linear with maybe only one branching path and an enemy every other step. However, the whole thing just feels ridiculously easy in comparison to the rest of the game. I also have a problem with the ending. It gives you an epilogue, saying how the characters went on. I was extremely disappointed to see that Anwen and Godric didn't get together when i felt they had a lot of chemistry. This also applies to Aidan and Jezebeth. I know she's a succubus and that's dangerous and all, but i felt like they should have at least stayed together as friends or companions. I also felt Markal was sort of tossed aside and i would have liked t see what happened to him, seeing as he's another of my favorite characters. 4
Final Verdict: Over all, this game's flaws can be ignored. The game play itself is smooth and fun, the writing is quirky and playful but serious when it should be, and the visuals and sound is great and fitting! This game makes me happy every time i play it and is so easy, my sisters can both pick it up and play it with me for hours on end. The challenge is just at the right level and the game is just so much fun! I recommend it to casual gamers as well as hardcore gamers who want a change of pace. This game is by no means open ended and has a set story you are forced to follow, but you can spend time doing puzzles and collecting bounties before doing the big important things. I don't mind the story driven attitude of the game, but if that sort of thing bothers you, this probably isn't the game for you. However, the extra modes reward you for playing the main game, but let you play the basic 5 characters and 4 special units with a random artifact if you never play the story. The game let's you take your time and save anywhere which is really nice. Even in battle, you can take your time (unless you're online playing with the clock) and do things like...eat....think....or i da know...blog or something. I have a lot to say about this game and i'm sorry non-game junkies, but this game is worth telling the world about! 9 (mathematically 8.4)
So that's it everyone! Sorry this one was so long, i just have a lot to say about it! This was only
scratching the surface. I might even film myself playing a round of quick play so you can see how it works. If you guys have played this game or if you do now, please tell me what you think of it and maybe your favorite character! My favorite character to play as is probabl Cyrus or Jezebeth, however my favorite characters in the game are Godric, Markal, and Anwen!
|Jezebeth the succubus|
Now, i will be leaving for Alaska Monday morning. I will post something tomorrow, but i really don't know what yet. I will not be back until the 6th, so i probably won't post again until the 7th. I'll be putting up a poll that i expect to have lots of votes while i'm gone! That poll will be put up tomorrow after whatever i post. Check back later in case i record myself playing.
UPDATE (1/24/14): Hey everyone! Remember how I said I'd play it for you? I did back in September! Here's one poor quality video of when I played it. I have a better camera now and might even do a Let's Play if you'd like!
|Amazing concept art of Markal and Fiona by Tri Vuong|