Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes Review

By on July 24, 2011

Addictive puzzle game? Check. Challenging strategy RPG? Check.


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First Impressions
My reaction is

Some game designers have stumbled upon a formula for making highly-addictive digital download games and it goes a little something like this: Take a standard match-3 game mechanic which is simple but tried and tested, modify and expand on it to give it more depth, add what are known as ‘RPG elements’ giving the game continuous purpose and release it with a solid campaign mode. If you play your cards right, ie paid proper attention to the individual aspects, your game will be a magnet for puzzler and RPG fans alike. If you liked games such as Puzzle Quest, you’ll know of the alluring quality such games can possess. Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is all that and more. In fact, its arguably the most prominent example of how these two genres can be seamlessly fused.

Clash of Heroes, previously released on the Nintendo DS some 2 years ago, is set in the ‘Might and Magic’ universe and follows the story of 5 heroes who command armies of Elves, knights, wizards, demons and the undead. The campaign mode puts in you control of all 5 heroes in fixed succession. Each character campaign takes about 7-9 hours to clear completely (including side-missions) so not only the campaign mode pretty lengthy, but it provides welcome diversity as well. Each character commands different units with different abilities and gains access to different equipment with different status effects so while the actual gameplay doesn’t change, each character campaign feels somewhat unique.

The gameplay is an interesting amalgamation of match-3 puzzle, strategy RPG and tower defense. Each player takes turns arranging units on a battle frontline. Units randomly appear on an invisible puzzle like grid. Vertically matching 3 standard units of the same color creates what the game refers to as an Attack Formation. The same 3 units arranged horizontally will create a defensive wall. The goal is to reach the other players baseline in order to deplete their HP to 0. Each unit and attack formation has its own HP and will damage the opponent for the same amount assuming the attacks reach the opponent’s baseline. In addition to standard units, there are also Champion units which take up either 2 or 4 blocks on the grid and are significantly more powerful than the standard ones (though their attacks take longer to charge). Champion Formations are creating by arranging 2 (or 4) same color standard units behind them. The system may seem slightly convoluted at first but with a little hands-on experience, one can get a hang of the game pretty quickly despite the tutorial’s inefficiently gradual explanation.

The game’s interface is simple but attractive. The anime style character designs are lively and just the kind of visuals that shine in HD. Traversing areas in the campaign mode is not a free-roam but involves moving from spot to spot as if on a board game. So while nothing much really happens on the screen, that fact that everything looks vibrant is a plus. Though it is bizarre how much loading time is needed between one screen and the next. Given the absolute simplicity, the excessive loading is inexcusable and does ultimately take its toll on the pacing of the campaigns.

In addition to the campaign mode, Clash of Heroes features an addictive multiplayer mode. Whether online or offline, multiplayer battles involve the same gameplay but provide a completely different challenge. Playing against human opponents naturally brings a different edge to the game, but even more so since both players have access to the Hero abilities. Hero abilities are special attacks that gradually charge during battles. Most AI opponents in the campaign mode do not have Hero abilities and, given their capacity to turn the tides, having to defend against them is a substantially different challenge altogether.

Overall, Might and Magic Clash of Heroes is one of those games that is hard to drag yourself away from. Even whilst writing this review, I found myself taking lengthy puzzle breaks. Unlike Puzzle Quest, Clash of Heroes is by no means a Bejeweled clone. In fact, as a puzzle experience, it’s fairly unique. Though it may be in the higher price bracket than the average PSN / XBLA game, its lengthy campaign mode and deep multiplayer potential makes it a definite bargain. If you are a puzzle, strategy and/or RPG fan, this game comes highly recommended.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
9.5
Deep and unique strategy-cum-puzzle gameplay.
GRAPHICS
8.5
Though static, the artwork and visuals look great in HD.
SOUND
7.5
Decent score to suit the theme and the ‘Might and Magic’ world.
VALUE
9
Lengthy campaign mode can take up 45+hrs not to mention competitive and cooperative multiplayer. A lot of value for a digital download.
FUN FACTOR
8.5
Engrossing and challenging. Loading times can be a drag but only slightly hinder the experience.
OVERALL
8.7
A refreshing take on the puzzle and strategy RPG mash-up. Challenging but not inaccessible, Clash of Heroes is much more than a novelty game and perhaps on the best games of its kind on the PSN and XBLA.

About

As an opinionated young gamer many years ago, I made three predictions: 1- Sega would dominate the console wars for 50 years. 2- Simon's Quest would be remembered as the definitive NES game. 3- I would be gaming even more as an adult. I suppose one out of three isn't bad.

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