Another genre-rarity here – a turn based strategy game. The sixth in the long running ‘Heroes of Might and Magic’ series(teaser: One of these games will be in my ‘Classic Recommendations’ later this month) renamed, for some unknown reason, ‘Might and Magic Heroes’ for this installment. The game returns to Ashan a few centuries prior to the last installment, where the lord of the Griffin Dynasty has just been assassinated by one of his own children.
Now, being only 8 hours in to a game like this really doesn’t give me the tiniest edge of the story, since TBS are probably the slowest moving games there are. After the 8-10 hours I’ve played, I’m done the tutorial campaign and finished 1-2 missions of one of the other campaigns. One of the other 6 or 7 campaigns. So needless to say, I’ve still got probably over a hundred hours of gaming remaining. I am playing on hard, which of course increases the length it takes noticeably but that’s just to say that I can’t really comment much on the story. What I’ve seen has me intrigued, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more.
The game is a turn based strategy, so naturally the in-game graphics are quite simple. But they are very clean, polished, and do look quite nice without being over-complex. The cinematics are quite impressive, but there are a lot of very short cinematic scenes that are repeated frequently when you, for example, capture and convert an enemy town. Fortunately, all conversation and cut-scenes are able to be skipped.
The faction count has been pared down even more to 5 total from the 6 previously in Heroes V and even 8 and 9 in some previous titles. The intent was to streamline, however I don’t really think it was necessary, the huge variety was always one of the best parts of the Heroes games. So far the Haven and Necropolis factions are very interesting to play as from the campaign perspective. The resources available have been reduced to 4 as well – however in this case I do agree that the streamlining was a good thing, as it could get a bit excessive needing to maintain 6 distinct types of resource location and sometimes needing all of them for a single building.
The bulk of the game revolves around building up a town and an army and exploring the map to find out either more resources, more towns, or artifacts to make you strong enough to take out your opponents. Since the controls for a turn based strategy are very basic, and the genre has been around since the dawn of time – I won’t go until much about the actual gameplay beyond that. The Heroes are back at the side during combat, off the actual field of battle. As in Heroes V they can still attack in addition to casting spells, which was a great addition to that game, and one I am glad to see return. The slow pace of a turn based strategy game is a relaxing change, but it won’t appeal to everyone, especially anyone who is really tired at the time they’re trying to play.
However, there are still a number of bugs. I’ve seen two crashes so far in as many days, also the hotkeys often don’t work. The game seems to have some major issues with alt tabbing – in full-screen mode the cursor ‘binds’ to the screen as it is supposed to, preventing you from going off the screen while it is the dominant window. Unfortunately, once I alt tab away from the screen and go back, this feature is gone until I reload the game or change away from full-screen and then back to it. Also, some hotkeys seem to change their impact. At one point the enter key was switching from full-screen to windowed, at another point it was bringing up one of the game menus, but most of the time it brings up the social menu that it seems to be supposed to bring up. None of this is game-breaking, but the hotkeys not working regularly gets quite annoying; however since it is a pc game it is entirely possible that tomorrow these could be fixed via patch.
This is getting pretty long though, so I’ll wrap up this 8-hour review here… I’m quite hooked so far, despite the bugs, and thoroughly enjoying the game. But hard difficulty is very hard, so if you’re not familiar with turn based strategy games I strongly recommend downgrading the difficulty a notch and go with normal or easy because the game’s difficulty is not to be scoffed at. It’s not punishing, but definitely tricky.
Written by: Sean