Trouble Thinking

August 2, 2012

How I Feel About: “Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes”

Good! Generally Good. So, if you’ve got like $15 to burn and you were dumb and missed it on deep discount during the Steam sale, grab it in penance.

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is a game developed by Capybara games and published by Ubisoft, and is another in the long line of games that are all vaguely related to the original Might and Magic that everyone has forgotten because the like 40 spin-offs are all more popular.

Remember this? No, no you do not remember this.

So I’m assuming that all the random fantasy names and general plotline somehow tie into the larger universe, but I’ll be damned if I can tell you how. Suffice to say: demons are breaking out of Not Quite Hell, called Sheogh, and they kill the parents of a group of five children right in front of them with fire. The game’s sort of dark for a cartoony kid’s game! Like, I’m gonna say it straight up: there was more immolation and murder than I really expected. Like a bunch more. And yet, the bar you go to in one portion of the game serves milk and tea. Oh and it also has

The most amazing dude. This is a guy who knows exactly what needs to be done during a demon invasion.

But anyway the kids go on their own quests to become Heroes of Might and Magic and they each get a short chapter where you overcome some aspect of the ongoing war and treachery and ultimately foil the evil villain as expected. So how do they accomplish these mighty tasks? Why, PUZZLING of course! Similar to Puzzle Quest and a few other puzzle-based RPGs, your prowess in combat is represented by your ability to maneuver little arrangements of shapes properly except in this case rather than gems they’re beautifully animated archers and knights and whatnot.

In each battle, you have columns of random assortments of these units, in 3 colors. You can only move the bottom-most layer of each column, but you can spend a move to eliminate a unit at any level of a column. Align 3 units of the same color vertically, and you start charging an attack, and when it goes off your units shoot up and try to make it to the top of the gameboard. If they do, they deal damage to your opponent, minus any that’s been absorbed by their defenses. Align 3 units of the same color horizontally and you get a 3-column wide wall that will block damage from enemy attacks. There are also twists like larger champion units that deal more damage, your core units having different charge times and effect, and fusing or linking attacks to make them deal more damage. There’s room for some strategy, it’s very moreish to call in random selections of reinforcements and see if this is the turn you can cascade 3 walls out and then like 5 attacks or get one of your champions charged. It’s an engaging system! And it had fucking better be because it’s all you’re doing for like, 15 hours.

Not gonna lie here, I will probably win.

Which brings me to my major gripes. This game doesn’t wear nearly as quickly as Puzzle Quest, where I found myself dreading battles which was basically the entire game. You pick all of your fights, and you can always back out. For most of the chapters, most of the fights can be attacked in a lot of different orders thanks to things like Bounties and random grinding if you don’t feel prepared for a fight. But the thing is, the average fight is about 10-15 minutes if you know you’re going to win. The randomness inherent in the system and the fact that heavy attacks take a while to charge mean that you can be at 100 health to your opponents 50 and still have a 10-20 minute fight just waiting for things to line up right. Too much of the battle system depends on this random dropping in of new units, and too little depends on actually figuring out clever move combinations. Almost every fight can be won by making every available move that grants you one extra move, then lining up as many attacks as possible. It’s not necessarily the fastest method, but the game doesn’t really give you many clever ways to deliver a coup de grace. Eventually it can become pretty rote. Speaking of rote! They end the game with just the worst idea. Throughout the game, you take on the role of a hero, slowly build their army and take them from wimpy level 1 to godlike level 10. Except at the end. You start with all units, you start at level 7 which is just high enough for leveling to feel like it takes forever, and you have just the least fun to play army with the least ability to end a fight fast. So the last section of the game ends up suddenly ramping every tiny issue you’ve had thus far way up and isn’t the best note to go out on. There are 10 Battle Puzzles sprinkled through the game, and I feel like expanding the concept further would have helped. Having something to break up the relentless match-3 that requires some time and thought and comprehension of the rules was super fun.

I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, but the fact that it has hotseat gets it high marks in my book. Too few games of this sort recognize that turn-based means I can play on one dang controller.

Anyway! I highly recommend grabbing this, it’s a bunch of fun. Just don’t make the mistake I did and bomb through the whole thing in like 3 days. Spread it out a few hours at a time and have fun watching little cartoon archers impale adorable cartoon demons.

 

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