âI need to bill you for 44 hours of my life.â This is how my friend greeted me this weekend. I laughed knowing exactly what he meant. The previous week I had sent him a link to Clash of Heroes: Might and Magic for the iPad and that game will eat ALL OF YOUR TIME.
Clash of Heroes: Might and Magic is one of the most time-sucking games I have ever played and itâs one of the only games that I have bought on more than one platform. COH:MM is an RPG, puzzle strategy game set in a fantasy world on the verge of a demonic invasion. And now that itâs been released on Android (alongside Nintendo DS, PSN, Xbox Live, PC, Steam, and iOS), the gameâs addiction is more deadly than ever.
You play as a series of young adventurers whose parents are murdered in a demonic raid. While separated across the six lands you must fight your way through enemies and treachery to reclaim the Blade of Binding, the only weapon that can stop the demons from overrunning the world of Ashan when the Blood Moon rises. Itâs all very exciting!
While the story is fun (apparently itâs a prequel to Heroes of Might and Magic V, but that doesnât matter), the gameplay is what truly makes it âPopCap-levelâ addictive.
The gameplay outside of the RPG elements is simply - battles. Battles are turn-based and take the form of two opposing armies, yours at the bottom moving upwards and your opponent from the top moving down. Each turn you get three moves; a move can be moving a free unit or calling for reinforcements (you can also forfeit moves if you donât want to use them).
To win, you need to hit your opponent with attacking formations, hitting them requires getting through their attacking formations and walls. In order to create attacking formations you need to line-up a column of three of the same colour. To create a defensive wall you need to line up three or more of the same colour in a row. Walls and attacking formations will both fall to the front line.
Throw in the facts that attacking formations require a certain number of turns to charge before they can attack and different attack power depending on their unit type; that each characterâs walls have specific special powers; and that idle (non-charging) units are different defense scores and suddenly you have yourself an intense strategy game.
Itâs like Tetris, Space Invaders and Bejewelled all mixed togetherâŚ and I havenât even mentioned the Champion Units, Artefacts or Special Powers.
As your character progresses through the RPG elements there are minor bounty side-quests, puzzle battles and secret areas to discover. These are worth doing as they give you resources to buy more powerful units, XP to upgrade your current units, unlock âsecretâ units and sometimes they give you artefacts that can be equipped before battles to give you an advantage.
Moreover, everything you unlock in the story mode follows you to multiplayer. Imagine your friendâs surprise when they discover that you have a Wraith waiting for them in the battle.
Each of your special units (like the aforementioned Wraith) has special abilities and come in two varieties that take up either two or four spaces on the game grid. Learning these powers and how to combine them and chain them with others is the key to winning COH:MM; it is also what will drive you mad.
On the boss levels there is no simple opponent to hit on the far side of an army. Often they are a single unit opposite you, with lots of hit points and several devastating attacks. You have to learn their movements and then strategise about how to line up your attacks, so that they finish charging at the right time.
Multiplayer can be done either live online or offline, the mode varies slightly depending on which platform you are using, but itâs essentially the same game. For the iPad there is a smart âtabletopâ mode where each player can sit opposite the tablet and the important numbers on screen (charging times, etc) will rotate depending on whose turn it is. When playing through the PSN you can come up against some awful mismatches. The friend who introduced me to the game often found her 12th level character up against 50th level players - who would blow her away in minutes.
Clash of Heroes: Might and Magic has found the perfect balance between simple gameplay and addictive strategy and for this reason I both recommend it... and warn you away from it.