Dungeon Hearts iPad Review
- Genuine sense of progression through skill; despite the 'random' nature of the game you're rewarded directly for skill instead of pure luck.
- Clever gem-matching system rewards players for engaging its deeper mechanics, but doesn't overly punish those who stick to the basics.
- Too unstable to play reliably; would be more forgivable if progression was saved, keeping some sense of flow in tact.
- Later battles can be entirely unforgiving; only takes one slip-up to put you in intense uphill struggle.
It's easy to see why the intensely engaging Dungeon Hearts attracted the attention of a studio like Devolver Digital, but with crashes eating up progress it's hard to fall in love with the excellent title on offer.
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For a long while the three-match arcade puzzle mechanic concept slept in the back of the gaming consciousness, occasionally finding a sort of yawning, eye-squinting revival by being jammed in as an alternative to button mashing. Dungeon Hearts by Cube Roots and Devolver Digital could have easily slipped in to the same, rote (and boring) routine as those that have come before, but instead they offer an immediate and highly challenging experience.
In a way you can think of Dungeon Hearts as Bejeweled meets JRPG meets Rhythm Game meets Endless Runner - it's an odd combination, but one that forces you to constantly shift mental gears to survive your encounters with various creatures including mini-bosses.
Each attempt you make at completing the game goes a little something like this: Your four warriors are lined up from top to bottom and have a corresponding row emanating from them. A random assortment of gems will slowly make their way from the right side towards your heroes on the left, damaging or inflicting status damage if it's an 'enemy' gem. As for the rest? The colored gems can be dragged around freely (with some exceptions) to create groups of three, allowing you to unleash an attack. If these gems are aligned with enemy gems or other heroes you'll create a combo attack, absorbing similar colored gems to further boost the damage dealt.
Lost already? It gets even better! Match three of the same colored attack gems and you can sweep the board clear. Also, each hero eventually unlocks up to three different abilities (based on their level), turning the tide of battle once you have enough energy to activate them.
And how do you get those levels? Instead of simply being awarded a lump sum of 'experience points' you'll have to solve a mini-puzzle after a battle where each match will 'level up' the appropriate character. It's an ingenious system to behold as your progress is determined directly by your skill and not rote grinding - the more you play, the more your skills develop, making each enemy seem easier, and providing you with more levels to give you a better chance at taking out a boss and unlocking more of the game's back story.
Every piece of Dungeon Hearts interlocks perfectly; nothing feels out of place or unnecessary. From the gorgeous graphics telegraphing your actions to the smooth and intuitive control setup (swipes or taps work equally well), every minute of gameplay is a moment of joy.
However there's one huge caveat in all of this. The game is temperamental and prone to crashing - frequently. This would be less problematic if your progress was saved and you could continue from the start of the current fight, but alas you'll start from the beginning again.
With any luck this will be addressed sooner than later, but until then it remains a hard to ignore day one flaw. Dungeon Hearts deserves, nay, yearns to be on your iPad, but stability is needed to make its intense gameplay pay off in full.
DescriptioniPad 2+ Required
"Four spirits race across the land, burdened with tragedy. Within each lies the specter of guilt and fear, which The Dark One bends to his will to enact his resurrection. They realize the deception too late as the promise of salvation turns to betrayal. A black wind washes over the planes, turning all to ash. As the fallen heroes face the engulfing void, a spark of hope clings to life. When the demon peered into their hearts to learn their secrets, so too did they learn his..."
Dungeon Hearts fuses the strategy and pattern matching of puzzle games with the kinetic pace of action games. Align magical runes as they flow along the Fatestream to attack, defend, and conjure magic in frenetic battles against a bestiary of fantastic creatures out to use those same runes against you. Chain together multiple attacks and unleash powerful combos or call upon each hero's special attacks to devastate your enemies to survive the twists and turns of Dungeon Heart's evolving gameplay. Strike down all that stand in your way and level up your brave warriors as each foe grows more powerful than the last, culminating in the final battle with The Dark One himself!
Puzzle/RPG Hybrid – Quickly align runes within the rapid match-three puzzle system to wield devastating attacks, defend against enemy offensives, and unleash multi-hero combos.
The Fatestream – Plan your strategy under pressure with dozens of different runes linked to each hero and defend against powerful attacks and dreaded hexes cast by enemies against your heroes.
Four Unique Heroes – Balance the individual skills of each hero and level them up to unlock and unleash a dozen different special powers for new attacks, healing magic, and time-altering spells.
Limitless Adventure – Face a randomly generated battle sequence with every new adventure and battle against a bestiary of over 40 creatures and 7 bosses lurking around ten unique environments.
Brimming with Secrets – Each defeated enemy reveals a sliver of the world's lore and the heroes' history.
A Vibrant Soundscape – Unlock 4 bonus soundtracks, each in a different musical genre.
What's New in Version 1.2-Fixed crash when resuming from background
-Added Endless gameplay mode and leader board