Heroes Call Review
- A hack and slash looter with a simple to use interface.
- Too much of the game is designed around getting people to spend money (or wasting time waiting not to spend money).
- The combat gets pretty monotonous quickly.
What could have been a fun Diablo-esque hack and slash game is dragged down by the freemium design model and unchanging combat.
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There's nothing inherently wrong with the freemium model in theory. A player can pick up the game for no cost, and if the gameplay is rewarding enough, the hooks will sink in, and the player wont mind shelling out a few dollars to stream-line their experience... or at least the pay walls won't be obtrusive enough to annoy the player away. Sadly Hereos Call by Defiant has not struck upon this balance, offering an intriguing hack and slash Diablo-esque experience, saturated by a choice between pay walls, grinding, and just waiting for a game timer to tick down.
The core game is a dungeon crawler, where you travel from room to room, attacking foes, smashing scenery and collecting loot to upgrade your monster slaying abilities. The control method is timed taps on the screen to unleash combos, or swipes to use unique character abilities (with a selection of two characters available to play now, and more to unlock in the future). Each level up allows you to place points in new abilities, but the level up system is a good place to start at where things just go terribly wrong.
Each level is a small mission situated in a small dungeon. You run through, and collect your loot. It's only at the end when you're about to head back to town that the experience is tallied and new abilities are assigned. This disconnect removes the satisfying feeling you get in other hack and slash games when you level up during a battle, and then can take the time immediately after to revel in your increased power. After leveling, the town presents another problem. Most loot you receive needs to be identified. You can buy identify scrolls through in-app purchases, or use the appraiser. Here's the catch though, the appraiser only has one slot to identify items (the others needing to be unlocked through more in-app purchases). Placing an item to be identified will start a timer of at least a few minutes, so you need to wait around needlessly to see if you have a worthwhile item to use or sell.
The best way is to place an item to be identified and go questing again, but guess what, there's a timer till you can go out on another mission. To speed up the process, it takes gems (the in-app purchase currency). You get a couple from your missions, and this can be used to at least continue playing the game, but after a couple levels, with the upgrading and identifying being made separate from your fighting and looting, you begin to wonder what the point is.
Heroes Call's problems all come down to its design around the worst aspects of the freemium model. If leveling up, identifying and questing were integrated back into the system and not so disconnected it would go a long way to this being a better experience. As it stands, it's kind of a fun hack and slash, and the tapping combos makes combat fluid, if not a little repetitive due to the slow unveiling of new abilities. It's just bogged down by its own systems, and thus makes it quite hard to recommend that players give this a go, regardless of its free price tag.