iPad Game Review: The War of Eustrath HD Reviewed by Shaun Price
New from Asian developer iQubi, The War of Eustrath HD (WoE) is a science-fiction strategy RPG, heavily focused on combat between GEARs, elementally infused machinations of war.
Players pick up the story as two nations collide. Eustrath is a fertile, prosperous land. The invading kingdom of Kradion, however, is quite the opposite. Their lands are mineral rich but barren, and their climate cold and inhospitable. The Kradionese people depend upon foreign trade for essential resources such as food, which they cannot grow themselves. Meanwhile, the government has funneled its efforts and limited resources into bolstering its military, and has launched an invasion of Eustrath.
The game begins as Luke Braferd, an Eustrathian noble and knight, and famed pilot of the legendary GEAR Huben Draknir, defends a small village from Kradion attack. The village is destroyed in the attack, its inhabitants all having fled, but one: a girl that Luke discovers unconscious. He takes the girl ? Tiana - with him, and soon finds their fates entwined. Luke is soon joined by his comrades, Harvein and Sarah, and the tale of their struggle begins to unfold. WoE weaves a pretty good story, though the characterizations are decidedly Asian; the female characters in particular may wear on some players? nerves. The narrative unfolds through character dialogue both between and during combat stages. The script is riddled with grammatical errors, typical of a translation performed by a non-native English speaker, but manages to remain coherent. The otherwise strong narrative is diluted, but not entirely ruined by its faults.
Where The War of Eustrath really shines is in its strategic combat, involving GEARs. Each character in your combat party pilots a GEAR, a variation of the large bipedal war machines often referred to as ?mecha? in similar venues. In the world of Eustrath, there are two types of GEARs: Mechanical and Elemental. Mechanical GEARs are run-of-the-mill war machines, like modern day tanks. They are mass produced, manned by soldiers and standard equipment for combat deployment. Elemental GEARs are something altogether different. More than simple machines; they are mechanical constructs imbued with elemental spirits and emotionally bound to their pilots. An Elemental GEAR cannot be controlled by just anyone, but chooses its own pilot. Some rare GEARs attract unique elemental spirits, such as the Huben Draknir imbued with the power of Dragon; such GEARs and their pilots are famed and revered across the land.
The actual combat involves a great deal of strategic complexity, and makes for highly satisfying battles. Each GEAR has a variety of attacks at their disposal, rated for damage, range and energy consumption. Pilots may make use of Field Abilities and Combat Abilities, and terrain also plays into the odds of a successful attack.
Victory often rewards you with items. Between battles, the spoils of victory may be assigned to your GEARs to boost their abilities. Consumable items can be used to boost your GEARs? attributes, increasing Hit Points, Energy, Strength, etc. Other items can be equipped to provide specific bonuses and abilities or your GEARs; each GEAR may equip a single item.
There are over 50 campaign stages are playable with several endings including a special one. You also encounter 20 unique characters and 40 different units when playing Eustrath.
The War of Eustrath features incredible anime-style artwork and lots of it. Character portraits are masterfully drawn, and are used to show a number of emotions and expressions during dialogue sequences. Throughout the game, important scenes are also fully and beautifully illustrated. These illustrated set pieces are screen-capture worthy; you?ll want to save them. In fact, I really wish the game kept a gallery of unlocked artwork acquired as you play; this may be a feature to nag the developers about, in hopes that we may see it in an update.
There are a few things that did bother me: the Combat maps are muddy and indistinct, nothing HD about them. Likewise, units on the map in no way resemble their combat scene counterparts, more resembling misshapen blobs of color than gigantic battle mechs. During combat scenes, the GEARs are much more interesting in appearance than on the maps, but sadly pale in comparison to the elegant portraiture of the pilots.
The music is a mixed bag, some good, some bad. I?d like the game to have better music overall, but my real issue is that the game attempts to vary the music dynamically as combat flows between movement and assault, and it doesn?t really work. The transitions are sometimes jarring, and the same short portions of tunes get repeated far to often as the music cuts, changes and then resumes again from the beginning. If we had the ability to change the in-game music it may actually improve the gameplay.
The story is worth experiencing despite its flaws, and the combat just doesn?t have any flaws. The War of Eustrath HD is deep and involving, unparalleled on the iPad. It makes a brilliant addition to the app store?s currently skimpy selection of iPad games. Even in a more crowded market, the game would still stand out as one of the deepest RPG experiences in the app store. It is well worth your time and money of if you?re the type that loves strategy based role-playing games this is the game for your hands down.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4.5 - The artwork is beautifully drawn and absolutely stunning. Misshapen blobs for battlefield icons. Sound: - 3 - There are times when the music fits and others it?s a major miss. Controls: - 5 - Very accurate touch controls, no lag or delay in response. Gameplay: - 4.5 - In-depth and instantly engaging. Just not extras to speak of.