Warhammer Quest – iOS
Developer: Rodeo Games
Publisher: Rodeo Games
Release Date: May 30, 2013
Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10
In the grim and perilous world of Warhammer, adventurers seek fame and fortune against vile foes. Giant spiders, goblins, orcs, skaven, and undead haunt dungeons that the heroes explore at the bequest of the downtrodden and rich alike, sometimes under threat of death. The foolhardy…um…brave protagonists may uncover relics of power and heaps of gold amid the ruins, not to mention earning experience points. After all, the only thing better than a mighty warrior is a mighty, leveled-up warrior. As the band of four roves the countryside and cities, they cross paths with politicians, holy men, beggars, witches, and more. All know them by the tales of their awesome deeds, and some have less than honorable intentions. Can the four explorers survive battles with the minions of chaos and assorted hazards in their travels?
Warhammer Quest is a top-down, turn-based strategy game based in the dark fantasy world familiar to players of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying games from Games Workshop. The video game is based on the board game of the same name, and it plays very much like a board game, without the analog mechanics of dice-rolling, counter moving, card flipping, and cleaning up afterward. Also, the loser can’t rage quit and scatter board, cards, and dice all over the room.
Purchasing the game gives the player a section of the map to explore, four starting character classes, and assorted monsters to populate the dungeons. There’s a barbarian berserker, a grey wizard, an elven archer, and a dwarven warrior at the start, with more characters available for purchase, like the Witch Hunter, Ogre Irongut, Archmage, Shadow Warrior, and more. Additional sections of the map can be purchased to unlock new enemies as well. For a guy who plays few mobile games, I was turned off by the cost of a new character class. There still seemed to be plenty of loot and fun to experience with the starting map and characters.
The premise of the game is very simple: kill monsters, collect loot and experience, level up characters, repeat. In fact, it’s very repetitive, especially when the dungeons all have a similar feel and look. Traveling through the world is accomplished via a fast-travel mechanic to and from dungeons, with city locations available to buy and sell gear, level up characters, or even pray to the gods for some help against the minions of evil. The random elements and flavor of world, darkly humorous at times and somewhat cruel at others, keep the game from becoming stale. During travel, chance encounters can give bonuses in the next dungeon but more than likely will give penalties to one or more characters. Every round in the dungeon, the amount of power available to spell-casting characters is randomly generated. The combat includes the anticipation of rolling dice to hit enemies and escape harm, even though this is accomplished by the game engine. The tension felt at such moments can be stressful, especially when additional monsters show up in the middle of battle or while trying to heal injured party members over multiple turns. It makes every encounter exciting, despite repetitive foes.
The color-coded inventory system prevents any character from carrying too many items of the same color, but there is a group inventory that can be accessed outside of combat. Some items can only be used by a specific character class, including those that must be purchased as DLC. They can still thankfully be sold in towns. Additionally some items only affect certain enemy types that are not present in the vanilla version of the game. Why purchase the Witch Hunter character, for example, if his weapons and abilities are geared toward fighting undead? Unless an area of the map is purchased that will hold undead enemies, it seems pretty pointless aside from the cool factor of his black powder pistols.
Leveling up characters is one of the highlights of play, and it’s costly. After each character has leveled up a couple of times, it’s often too expensive to level up more than one character per trip to town. Since new abilities and spells can be unlocked in addition to improved martial talents, a warrior can become much more useful through this training. True to the flavor of the game, some of these abilities can just as easily cause harm. A berserk warrior might hit friends during his frenzied attacks. A healing ability might fail and inflict additional wounds. Luckily there are potions, edibles, and certain treasures that can bolster the heroes in times of desperation, and many can be purchased in towns between dungeons.
The controls of the game are basic taps or double-taps as turns progress. Highlighted squares on the dungeon’s map note the limits of character movement during a turn. Tapping and holding a character, item, or enemy will reveal information about them, sometimes colored with black humor. Movements, mechanics of items and abilities, and selecting character actions all lend strategy elements to the game that can easily be derailed by random events, just like poor results of die rolls. Inevitably, a character will die, but they are resurrected by choosing to leave the dungeon uncompleted or by vanquishing the enemies and completing the mission with at least one surviving character in the lower difficult levels. Dead characters earn no experience points for any monsters they killed or healing they accomplished. (I mentioned “grim” in the opening of this article for a reason.)
While the combat and characters are enough to make Warhammer Quest fun,the gritty atmosphere and flavor keep me returning to an otherwise repetitive game. Perhaps I’ll eventually be tempted into buying more characters or map areas. For the moment, the game’s initial offerings are plenty of fun to occupy me until my phone’s battery dies. For fans of dark fantasy and turn-based combat, this is a title I can highly recommend.
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