Multiplayer RPG, All By Yourself?

Last Saturday was Gary Gygax Day, so in remembrance of Mr. Gygax I tried to find something light and fun that still had deep roots in the old Dungeon & Dragons ways. This wonderful title hits that fairly well, with its party based monster clearing, item gathering, boss crushing ways. Pack up your swords and axes ladies and gents, it’s time for Battleheart.

If you ever thought, “Hey, I severely need a game that makes me multitask and smash buttons like a madman“, well, I got you covered. Battleheart is a single player RPG that mimics multiplayer combat and that means several things. One: instead of moving and casting and setting up attacks for a single character, you’re now doing it for four. Two: when someone screws up, it’s your fault. No blaming your friend from down the street when heals aren’t on the right target, or when your rogue is seemingly “AFK” standing in the fire. Honestly, for me, that was fine. I’d like to think I have fairly good reflexes, but this could be a problem for some.

I wonder if I could bounce this arrow off his head into that bat…

I wonder if I could bounce this arrow off his head into that bat…

Mikamobile did a great job creating a very clean styled game that looks glorious on both the iPhone/iPod and on the iPad. Speaking of the iPad, I sure wish I had one for playing this. Allow me to explain why. The controls for Battleheart are very simple. Drag from a player to an enemy and they walk over and engage. Drag from a healer to another character and it heals them. Simple? Very. But it is also commonly infuriating. On my tiny 3GS screen, I would often direct my healer to the wrong player – leaving me with a dead melee character. Which is great when it’s the Tank, because then the strategy literally becomes “run around forever, don’t let things touch you, and hope they don’t turn around and punch the healer”. A secondary method of targeting characters would be nice for when they are grouped up.

Quickly! If we don’t stand in a generic RPG pose, we don’t get exp!

Quickly! If we don’t stand in a generic RPG pose, we don’t get exp!

If you’re a stat-junkie like me, you’ll be a little disappointed in the game’s lack of item diversity. Items are either better (indicated by a blue arrow) or garbage (indicated by a red arrow). While nice to give me trinkets and such with neat bonuses (such as +10% gold per fight), I would have much rather had bonuses for Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, etc. on my items instead of the single value they are given.

So I get more money if I only wear one glove? Should I sing too?

So I get more money if I only wear one glove? Should I sing too?

Now, some of you may know, I also make video games in my free time – more specifically RPGs. So, I get that sometimes you need to re-use content to extend the length of the game. Cool. Totally agreed. But Mikamobile went out of their way to create a complete duplicate of the character classes. There isn’t a single difference between the Shepard (a knight ) and the Black Knight ( the… black knight…) other than the amount of Monty Python references I mutter while playing. The could have at least changed HALF the skills… to give me some sort of reason to keep playing and level up all my characters (other than just to get my money’s worth). You heard me. I reviewed a PAID game and I blame OWC Ben M. who showed me this awesome title.

Never fear! I’m glowing. And that means I’m awesome… not radioactive.

Never fear! I’m glowing. And that means I’m awesome… not radioactive.

As you level up your characters, you get access to new spells and abilities that have individual timers for each skill. So, by late into the game you have four characters, with three abilities each. That’s 12 cooldown periods you need to manage – while only being able to visually see three at a time (your currently selected character). Luckily the timers are never that long. Besides, you have enough going on to really stop and think about the timers. You end up just smashing them them when they’re up like a frantic game of whack-a-mole.

I have located the Cyclops weak point, and surprisingly, it’s not his eye.

I have located the Cyclops weak point, and surprisingly, it’s not his eye.

The only other fault I found with this game is that you have no way of checking what a character does before you hire them. I guess that’s fine since the game uses all the classic character classes like Bald Monk, Guitar Dude, and Dual Wielding Beard. What could possibly go wrong?!? Even so, I had a fantastic time playing this. If you have the coin to spare, I suggest dropping a few gold pieces on this one.

Graphics:

With vibrant colors and a clean “flash” looking visual style, things pop and are kept very visible. Nothing ever gets muddled into the background. The spell effects and little details, like the screen going dark for some larger skills, really nail the graphic theme and keep me playing.

Gameplay:

Well, some of you may find this game repetitive and thus a bit boring. I would not fault you for saying so. Sometimes you’re forced to backpedal and head back to levels you’ve beaten because you need the experience points and gold to push forward. To top that, some levels are just a brutal grind and take forever if you’re under-geared.

Audio:

Mikamobile did a great job of making sure you hear every sword clash and every burning ember showering down from a fireball without becoming a headache-inducing audio overload. I’ve played games that make me scream in frustration as I rip off my headset and keep playing; this is not one of those titles.

Innovation:

Well this is one I haven’t seen much of before, the controls are fantastic (other than the grouping up issue on a small screen) and the constant stream of gameplay with very little down time is awesome. While a better targeting system would be nice, I still can not fault this game in this category. Fantastic job.

Overall:

Wowza. Yeah I said “Wowza” and, no, I won’t ever use it again. However, that’s all I have for describing this one. Battleheart is a well done RPG with a great visual style and addictive gameplay. While not for the Diablo-playing gear addicts, it still creates that feeling of playing a great multiplayer RPG – without feeling the need to give your friend a charlie horse for dying in the fire.


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