After a long, grueling battle against Graank – the nefarious (but squat) king of the goblin horde – Tiberus removed his helmet and raised his shield to deflect the glare of the mid-day sun. “Thea, with the goblin king defeated… what lies ahead of us?” he asked in a low concerned tone, accented by the reverberations from his helmet. “Coins!” the healer replied, “An entire hallway full of
coins.” Tiberius’ shoulders slumped at the news, and he sheathed his sword… “I was never good at this part of adventuring. Let’s go.”
On the surface, Heroes of Destiny appears to be an RPG gamer’s dream-come-true; a title complete with gorgeous graphics, varied and upgradable loot, and deep level-based skill trees. Veiled in a simplistic storyline, HoD’s single quest is to get you back on the battlefield for more loot and coins to upgrade. However, what happens when quests have been reduced to brief, linear, and mostly automated encounters? (HINT: Take the “R” out of “RPG”)
Like Lipstick On An R-P-ig
Once you’ve tapped your way through some basic pre-mission dialogue, you’re presented with a beautifully rendered map; your party represented by a Chess-like marker. Tapping a destination slides your pawn over and initiates the mission (and here is where I got disappointed). I was initially expecting a wide-open map, similar to Diablo or Torchlight, where you ran around killing things and gathering treasures… However, HoD presents each mission as a small, short, instanced, and extremely linear dungeon-run that takes no more than a few minutes to complete. Your party is plopped-in the instance and immediately runs (without intervention) straight to the first encounter. You kill the mobs (or get killed), then run to the next. There are typically three encounters in any mission, give-or-take a boss, and between missions you’ll find your party running through a tunnel full of coins which you tap to collect. Again, running through tunnels is mostly automated. That’s all there is to it – mostly automated, linear dungeon romps that last mere-minutes. Sad. The only upside of this severely handicapped form of questing is the fact that you can re-do each mission at varying levels of difficulty – and hard is, well… hard. Unfortunately, to tackle the harder missions you’ll need stronger party members. We’ll get to grinding in a bit.
The interface while in combat is intuitive and works fine as-is. Selecting one of your party, you drag a line to an enemy (to attack) or an ally (to heal). Once swords begin swinging and bows begin plunking, you monitor the performance – again, mostly automated. When your foe has fallen, draw new lines to new targets. Unfortunately, the AI is extremely slow on the uptake and it takes a few seconds to realize there are new targets (without manual intervention). Since each battle lasts somewhere around 10sec, you might as well intervene. Special skills for each ally appear as icons at the top of the screen when selected, and triggering them is as simple as a tap or drag-and-drop. At the end of one battle, coins and treasures fall from the sky and you move on.
Between missions, you’ll spend a bit of time equipping, upgrading, and selling stuff you’ve looted. If members of your party have gained enough experience, you can “train” them – a simple matter of waiting until some time has passed to unlock a new skill point. This training time-window seemed to me completely arbitrary, and just another way to encourage you to spend money to shorten the wait. Frustrating. Once you’ve trained, you’ll gain a skill point to assign to a skill in the tree. These skills, in the beginning anyway, don’t really feel like they do a whole lot – defense increases and attack speed increases. Again, I was hoping to unlock more powerful abilities… but no. Finally, once your “party level” (sum of all levels in your party) hits certain benchmarks – or, you spend enough money buying coins – you can purchase new party members. The pickin’s are pretty slim for the freebies, but I refuse to buy in-game items. Sorry, Glu. So, expect to be repeating plenty of missions in order to grind your way to fill that empty slot in your party.
As stated earlier in the review, Heroes of Destiny sports some snazzy graphics and the UI is toned and slick… but expect to be disappointed if you’re seeking any sort of depth. The storyline is basic, and the missions themselves are child’s play. Likely, the most satisfying part of this game is repeatedly upgrading and equipping new items that are ever-so-slightly better than the old ones. HoD could have been so much more than mildly entertaining, and for that I have to say “meh” – here’s to the future. Unfortunately for now, it seems major mobile publishers are stuck in the Dumbed-Down Age.