Epic Hero Battles to the Death, with Crystals!
Hero Academy is best described as glorified chess. This is in no way meant as a criticism to the game, but if you were to make a comparison to describe what the game was like, this is possibly as close as you would get. The game is simple, you have various teams of characters that you can choose to use in a battle against a friend or a random opponent on the internet. Once you have chosen your team, you must optimise it in such a way as to achieve one of two objectives; defeat all of your opponent’s team or destroy all of your opponents coloured crystals. The premise could really not be simpler, but this little game by Robot Entertainment (creators of Orcs Must Die!) transforms it into something quite brilliant!
Hero academy is available on Apple mobile devices and, as I tested it, on Steam. For the small price of £3.99 you can grab yourself a great little online strategy game which is as addictive as they come. The Steam version of the game comes with two teams that you can play as; the Council, which is a classic fantasy team with knights, wizards and the slightly off the wall idea of ninjas, or the Team Fortress 2 characters, exclusive to the Steam version of the game and personally my favourite of the two. You can also purchase other teams to play as in the game; the Dwarves, Dark Elves and the Tribe. These teams are playable in the few offline challenges included in the game, so you are able to try before you buy. Each team is completely unique in what its units are capable of doing and what additional items can be used to improve their performance. The Team Fortress team use their classic weaponry arsenal to rain heavy destruction on their enemies, however each unit also has certain extra abilities to add to its uniqueness. The heavy for example causes more damage to his enemy the more consecutive times he fires at them, presumably as his massive great chain gun warms itself up. The medic, as in his normal game environment, is able to connect to an ally to power them up, given that they stay within a certain range of him. The Council team also has these sort of abilities; the ninja, which is described as a “super unit” can teleport and change places with any of their allies. The knight has the ability to knock an enemy back if there is a clear space behind them when he attacks. All of these unique abilities mean that you really have to get down and dirty with your tactics to overcome your opponent, and you never know quite what they are planning to do back. This means that every fight is a close one right until the last blow falls.
As well as requiring an intimate knowledge of your team, the game requires a close inspection and careful level of control over the playing field itself. Certain spaces can give a player a strong advantage over their opponent and controlling them could be the difference between a victory pint and a right good ass kicking at the end of the day. There are three key spaces to look out for; an attack bonus, a defence bonus, and a crystal damage bonus. These are all pretty self explanatory, and it is easy to see why you might want to consider using them in your strategies, or at least make sure your enemy doesn’t! There are several different fields of battle however, and some have different elements to others. For example, you don’t want to get caught out on the map with the train tracks, because if you have stopped there and you opponent simply stands on the space with the switch on it, then you are pretty screwed. It seems obvious, but it is worth checking out your surroundings before you dive into anything head first and find yourself just landing on your face. Its also worth knowing what you can do to make your team stronger yourself. Each team has some items that come alongside their characters to give you a little boost on your way to victory. If you are playing as the Council, you can give your people swords, shields and helmets to improve their strength and defence. You can also use potions to heal your people or to weaken your enemies in order to gain an upper hand. The Team Fortress team have less of these sort of items, but you can eat a healthy sandwich to regain health and gain a movement bonus on the next turn, which can’t really be a bad thing.
So it all sounds pretty good for what is designed as a simple mobile game, doesn’t it? Well there are one or two minor drawbacks that should be mentioned. For one, there is no offline skirmish mode or anything of the like so that you can get on and play on your own when there is nobody to battle online. There are offline challenges to be played, but these take more of a puzzle form than a strategic battle, and so it’s not quite the same. It may simply be that the game is new at the moment, but there are not that many people to play online in battles, and you can find yourself waiting a very long time for your opponent to make their next move in the battles you do start, and nobody likes the waiting game. Secondly there is of course the fact that you have to buy extra teams to play as in the game. For a simple game like this, it doesn’t quite seem right. Fair enough the added content is not that expensive but an unlock system might have been a more appealing idea to the players. You also have to buy extra colours for your team if you are not content with red or blue, which seems a little bit unfair in a way, because it is just colours, but equally it seems a bit strange that you wouldn’t just be content with red or blue, so there is not really a great need to worry about this. Finally, the annoying sound effects. Fair enough you can turn them off, but it’s hard to say why they needed to be there in the first place. Maybe this is a more personal rant than the other issues, but there it is. Another thing which is not a problem but is a confusing point is why the game is named Hero Academy. Where the academy side of things comes into it all is about as clear as a window made of bricks, but if there is some logic in this then it would be great to hear it. Otherwise however, I feel that the name may be a factor that will put some people off.
All in all, Hero Academy is really a pretty good buy. It is cheap, it does what it says it will do, and it is as fun as it is addictive. Right now however its popularity is not through the roof; it’s certainly not in the leagues of mobile games such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja just yet. With no offline skirmishes as yet, this is the key problem you might find, as waiting for opponents moves can be tedious and make you wonder if the game is worth sticking to. However, at the price you get it for it is very difficult to fault the game, which in itself is a great little strategy game with hours of fun to be had, and if I may take a moment to make a note which some people may have been wondering about, yes, it is absolutely worth getting the steam version for the Team Fortress team!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.