With the release of Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes in HD for PSN and XBLA, Capybara Games are looking to further cement their reputation for graphical excellence, which they established with 2009’s Critter Crunch.
Set in the far off realm of Ashan, Clash of Heroes finds its fantasy world in a time of deep crisis. The demon realm of Sheogh, long since kept in check by the legendary Blade of Binding, is starting to cause chaos across the lands, plunging Elves, Humans and Wizards into a state of uncertainty. It’s up to the player to guide the children of the five main tribes in a quest to fight off the demonic hoards and restore order to the world.
Probably most accurately described as a turn-based action puzzle title, Clash of Heroes’ action takes place on the Battlefield, which is divided into two parts; top and bottom. Enemies are placed along the top while the players forces amass along the bottom. The aim is to gather your forces into columns, three of each colour, being mindful that each unit is limited to the amount of moves the player currently has. Each time a set colour (brown for example) is thrown together they become linked, pooling their battle resources. This linking of groups soon becomes a vital tactic as the game progresses.
Waves of forces can be deployed both vertically and horizontally within the player’s game space and, if arranged in a horizontal configuration, will form a protective barrier against the opposing forces. To augment their existing selection the player will encounter Elite forces which can be used to bolster their arsenal further.
Unlike the regular units, the amount of Elites is finite due to their power and strength, requiring the player to buy additional stock at shops with the money gained in battle. The power these units wield is not to be taken lightly and can swing a match at a stroke. For example, the ability of the Deer to jump over walls means its attack is a formidable weapon in the players arsenal, as is the Druid which can cast a powerful vine spell to increases the charge time of any enemy formations it makes contact with.
The abilities continue to stack up with Fuse which allows you to add another attack behind an existing attacking column, providing both are of the same type and colour. If successful, this inflicts a devastating attack on enemies defences and is another strategy to conjure with. The beauty of this particular ability is that there’s no limit to what can be combined, so even defensive walls can be fused to create stronger barriers.
The final addition comes in the form of Champion units. These allow the player to place four of the same coloured units behind it, allowing for an extra powerful attack but with the downside of needing more turns to unleash it. If Deathspank taught us anything, it’s that Unicorns aren’t to be messed with, and Clash or Heroes is no exception. Seeing one of these mythical Champion beasts lining up on the opposition’s side will cause consternation, with strategies and tactics being changed to cope with these sorts of dangerous wild cards.
While this all sounds a tad complicated, the execution is classic pick up and play. Capybara seem to have an instinctive ability to draw in all types of players with their game mechanics and Clash of Heroes is no exception. The initial engagements, themselves disguise in a brilliantly executed set of tutorial levels, do a good job of informing and gently guiding the player through the basics without that feeling of being lectured.
Once exploration becomes the main motif, there’s a plethora of additional missions to be tackled. Bounty Agents will offer up side missions to hunt down demons and there will be additional Elite units to conquer, adding their expertise to your own. There’s also little puzzle battles, which have to be completed in a handful of moves and make for an open-ended, frustration-free experience. Add in a 2 v 2 online mode that recreates the offline experience perfectly and there’s certainly a lot of game contained within, making this one title that will last you a good while.
People always talk highly of the graphical quality that Capybara are renowned for and Clash of Heroes is no slouch in this department. Critter Crunch was depicted in lush, broad strokes with animation that would put some movie studios to shame, but Clash of Heroes seems hell-bent on upping the ante even further. There’s such character and minute detail on display here, that the player can find themselves spending their time gawping at how much is on display. You can tell the artists slaved over this game as a labour of love, pouring such care and attention into the smallest detail.
Brimming with confidence, as an overall package Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes provides an experience that will suck hours of time away in the blink of an eye, complete with that moreish “one more go” appeal that is the hallmark of an essential purchase.