The ONLY reason I didn’t slap down that fifteen bucks for Heroes of a Broken Land right away after I saw that trailer the other day was there was a demo to try out and I love demos. Needless to say, it got downloaded and played for a bit and yes indeed, the game is quite fantastic on a few levels. For starters, it looks and plays exactly like a hybrid of Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder and one of those great Dreamforge RPGs with dashes of Wizardry and even a little Heroes of Might and Magic tossed into the pot for good measure. If all those names and titles baffle you and you’re looking at that trailer and thinking “But it’s so ugly!”, feel free to turn right around and point your body towards the door (a little more to the left… Okay!), then lean forward slightly so my foot lands in the right spot. *Boot!*
Everyone else, there’s a fresh kettle on and tea cups a plenty in the kitchen. Oh, and some cookies are on the counter…
I won’t go into the story here at all (this isn’t a review. Yet) other than to say it’s pretty basic stuff and you’re the one filling in the blanks as you go thanks to randomly generated maps and dungeons of increasing challenge. Once you pick a wizard (each one has a stat-enhancing skill for the party or parties you’ll control), choose a level size and difficulty and go. You’ve got a starting town to rebuild and the game gives you some starting funds and a quick tutorial that hits you with the basics. Light simulation elements allow you to build structures that add extra gold, beef up your party in a few ways and even recruit new warriors to your cause. As you can only fit so many buildings in each town, choosing what types of structures to build is big key to victory.
The dungeon crawling is lovely step at a time goodness, enemies appear in set locations (so far) and combat is turn-based bliss with an easy to use interface. As the game as a few adjustable variables, you can make your experience a total cakewalk or a completely brutal nightmare of a game where a few pesky rats can ruin your day but good. If you need to know, my own style of play is to test the waters in a few different difficulties and see how I fare. As you play through dungeons, you’ll earn gold and assorted gear that comes in very handy as your party’s starting weapons and armor are pretty weak.
There are plenty of nice little details here such as the game letting you know how many monsters are left in a dungeon, an auto-mapping system that’s easy to read and battles that don’t take forever to play out. If you’re a controller-only gamer, get used to learning the old way of playing. I’m an old fart, so I don’t mind the WASD and click-click stuff one bit. That said, I’m usually reaching for my wired Xbox 360 controller more action-heavy retro style games if I’m feeling the need to save my wrists. Heroes just *feels* right played with a keyboard and mouse, so even if controller options end up in the game, I’ll probably stick to what I’m doing now.
Anyway, this ISN’T a review, as I need to go pay for the full game and see how it all ends. The demo is actually the entire game, but your party can ONLY go up to level 6 and trust me, running into enemies past that point isn’t pretty for your otherwise adventurous group of foolish and soon to be deceased adventurers. Go give this one a look-see and see for yourself that it’s a total keeper with endless replay value. Okay, tea time’s over – make sure you wash out those cups. I’m normally a better host, but I’ve got a dungeon to clean out over here…
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