iPad Game Review: Time of Heroes (Universal)
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Time of Heroes is a 3D turn-based strategy game with heavy role playing elements from German developer Smuttlewerk Interactive. This is the first installment of the series dubbed as The Arrival. The developer is also working on the second chapter of Time of Heroes called The Prophet's Revenge.
Time of Heroes is a turn-based role-playing game of tactical combat. If you've played Final Fantasy Tactics or Heroes of Might and Magic, you will feel right at home here. At the beginning of each chapter, you will place your armies on a game board divided into hexes. From there, you will attempt to move your armies in such a way as to achieve your objectives (which is usually kill and don't be killed).
Your armies have different skills and abilities as do your enemies so rushing headlong into the breach is ill-advised. As with all games of this type, there is no single best army to sweep the battlefield with. This "rock/paper/scissors" approach means that you will have to spend time organizing your troops in such a way as to maximize their damage-dealing and minimizing their damage-taking.
Additionally, the RPG aspect of the game adds yet another layer of strategy as you groom and develop your heroes into something that suits your play style. Time of Heroes is designed to be a thoughtful game rather than a twitchy one, which suits me just fine. I have always loved turn-based strategy games. I enjoy the relaxed pace, the deep range of attack/defense options (compared to real-time games), and the fact that victory is completely dependent on your ability to develop and execute a strategy rather than your reflexes. That being said, this game is not for the easily distracted or those who like to consume their games in bite-sized chunks. Although Time of Heroes is single-player only, it does support Game Center Achievements and Leaderboards if you are looking to compare your skills against other heroes.
Smuttlewerk's previous game, Companions was an excellent top-down real-time(ish) role-playing game that featured hand-drawn 2D sprites. Time of Heroes utilizes an entirely different engine, opting instead for a 3D experience. The downside of this is the fact that you lose quite a bit of detail when you go 3D. However, the upside is, it is much easier to identify differences in terrain; a crucial element in Time of Heroes. When I first launched the game, I wasn't particularly impressed with the visuals. However, after I played for a while, I found that the advantages of a 3D engine vastly outweighed the disadvantages, and I reversed my original feelings of disdain.
Time of Heroes has decent sound and music, although neither is good enough to make you scramble for your headphones. As with all games I review, I turned both completely down to see if the game experience suffered. I found that the game was noticeably more difficult without the sound effects due to Smuttlewerk's good use of audio cues and interface feedback; a good sign that the developers spent some time working on this.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Time of Heroes offers a variety of IAP options, none of which (thankfully) take the form of consumables. for $1 a pop, you can unlock a series of powerful weapons, armor, magical artifacts, and aura enhancements. I didn't find the game to be balanced toward their purchase in any way, and was pleased very much by this fact.
Time of Heroes is a solid turn-based strategy role-playing game. If you're a fan of the genre, you're not going to want to pass this up (especially at the currently ridiculous price of $1). If you're new to the genre, the presence of a solid tutorial and an intuitive interface should go a long way toward bringing you up to speed. The 3D engine isn't as pretty as the sprite-based graphics in their previous game, but they are quite functional for a game like this, and don't take much getting used to.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3.5 - The 3D engine is functional and silky smooth, but not big on eye-candy.
Sound: - 4 - Good use of sound effects and a decent soundtrack.
Controls: - 5 -The interface is intuitive, responsive, and accurate.
Gameplay: - 5 - A solid turn-based strategy game with RPG elements. If you're looking for something fast-paced and twitchy, look elsewhere.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Play through the tutorial before you dive into the game. Remember that the battles are scripted, not randomly generated. You will very often find yourself facing additional foes at the most inopportune times, so conserve your resources, even when victory appears to be near.
Developer: Smuttlewerk Interactive
Release Date: January 19, 2012
Buy App: Time of Heroes
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