Time of Heroes Whips Up 3D Strategy with Looks and Depth
One of the common knocks for games in the iTunes store is they tend to be mostly skin deep experiences with minimal depth. While that topic could be an article on its own, one thing is for certain. Smuttlewerk Interactive’s Time of Heroes is among the richest and deepest when it comes to turn-based strategy (TBS) with great 3D animation that should provide hours of challenging and even vast gameplay. It’s safe to say that that Time of Heroes is designed for the advanced gamer in mind, while casual players will enjoy it for the aesthetics and well-developed storyline.
Presented through cutscenes, the storyline follows Prince Minos and his team of human heroes Rholtwest, Ariadne, and Ungbar as they seek to conquer the continent of Altland. Along the way, they meet Elven Hero Ryrrmdaar and Dwarven Hero Ultomuk who join in this war between good and evil. With the help of human, elven and dwarf forces, these explorers will do battle with the likes of demons and zombies who display strength, brawn and magical prowess. Sounds exciting right? Fortunately, the gameplay in Time of Heroes more than successfully take advantage of that storyline to create an action-packed experience.
The game offers 3 modes of difficulty—easy, normal and hard—along with a setting that allows players to select the volume of enemies—Pack, Throng and Hordes. A nice feature is the 3 save slots so you can try out different strategies. A bit of warning: unless you’re an advanced player in TBS, the game isn’t exactly a walk in the park so it’s recommended that begin in easy and pack modes.
As with any strategy game, the challenge and skill in Time of Heroes comes down to selecting and placing the appropriate battle units based on the battle conditions and objectives. The battles take place in a series of distinctive maps each with its own set of objectives that must be met in order to claim victory.
There are a number of units for our heroes within the human, elven and dwarven races. Humans rely on Berserker, Axethrower, and Bullrider, while Elvens have Dragonlings. Let’s not forget the Dwarvens with their Guards and Mortar Dwarves. You’ll find each unit has a number of attributes when it comes to strength, power and even environmental preferences. For example, human race Berserkers are known for their skill with battle axes and courage under fire while Mortar Dwarves are heavily armored, highly intelligent beings. This is just touching the surface, but players will have plenty to discover during gameplay.
Visually, Time of Heroes sets itself apart in the TBS genre with great 3D graphics and animation. The battle scenes are a treat to watch since they can be both intense and engaging. The game does offer an option to turn off these scenes since they do add significantly to the already slow game pace. Some players will be turned off by the length of time involved, but as mentioned earlier, Time of Heroes isn’t really designed for the casual gamer.
The UI in Time of Heroes is rather clunky and even unintuitive at least initially. For example, a unit becomes permanently placed once you select another unit which can be confusing. Another involves being to select exactly where a unit is to move because units tend to be closely lined up together early on. Of course after playing through a few battles and maps, the controls much more usable, but they remain less than user friendly.
Because the tutorial is rather basic, the game does require a certain commitment to understanding the nuances. This can be a frustrating and in some cases, an overwhelming experience given the amount of depth. A common approach in other games is including an encyclopedia where players can find information on specific units and background on environments. Time of Heroes would be well served to include such a reference in a future update.
As players progress and claim victories, bonus items, powers and spells are awarded which heroes and units can utilize. Items include strength axes, power rings, swords and battle armor among others while spells include fire, vortex and ice rays. The game includes an easily manageable skills tree that where commands and spells can be accessed.
The gameplay itself forces players to use their strategic thinking if they’re to succeed. Because of the strengths and weaknesses of units and the variety in the terrain, the game can be difficult. And, players will find out quickly that additional enemy units tend to appear out of the blue as you reach certain checkpoints. This can be both fun and challenging especially since by this time, hero units may have taken a significant amount of damage. Keep in mind that Heroes (not Hero units) can receive health boosts during the game as they level up in attack, defense and skills experience.
Time of Heroes has IAPs which provide additional weapons, magic and power boosts bundles. Fortunately, the IAPs are set up so that they aren’t necessary to fully enjoy the game.
Time of Heroes is easily one of the deepest strategy games in the iTunes store. While it has a rather clunky UI, the game provides a rich and entertaining experience within a great looking 3D environment and epic storyline. The slower pace may not appeal to casual players, but the Time of Heroes is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for some intelligence in your game.
Albie Meter: 4 Stars (a great looking 3D TBS that goes beyond skin deep; strong storyline with depth being the name of the game; clunky UI not as intuitive as it could be; tons of hero and enemy units with plenty of bonus items and powers; ideal for advanced strategy players)
Last edited by Big Albie; 01-22-2012 at 11:07 AM.