Published by Robot Entertainment
Developed by Robot Entertainment
One of the better strategy games on the iOS platforms is a game called Hero Academy. Taking place on a 9x5 grid the gameplay is almost a chess-like experience that is both fun and addictive. The iOS version of the game is free although there are in-app purchases that will give you additional teams, avatars and team colours. Hero Academy’s transition to the PC has been a smooth one and the game is just as enjoyable. In fact the only fly in the ointment is that it’s significantly more expensive than on iOS.
At its heart, Hero Academy is a simplistic game with a gentle learning curve. The objective in Hero Academy is simple with the idea being to eliminate your enemy’s units or to smash their crystals. The turn-based battles take place on a 9x5 grid which is made up of normal and premium squares. The premium squares confer boosts on the units which stand on them and making effect use of them can really make the difference in a tough battle.
You’ll begin a battle with some of your units already deployed on the battle grid and with additional units ready to be bought into play from the rack at the bottom of the grid. On this rack you’ll also find armour, weapons and spells, which can be placed directly on to the battle grid. Armour and weapons can be placed on appropriate characters to boost their stats and make them more effective fighters. What you have to consider in Hero Academy is that you have five action points per turn and that every action consumes one point. Should you want to you can use all of your action points with just one character if you feel that’s the most effective way to go on any particular turn. As a result you have more freedom than you would in most turn-based strategy games where you can only perform one or two actions per unit. It should also be noted that it’s not enough to simply knock an enemy out. Should you leave an enemy in a fallen state it’s possible that they can be revived and bought back into the action. To remove them from the battlefield you’ll need to place your unit on the fallen enemy’s square to ‘stomp’ on them.
What I really like about Hero Academy is whilst the base game itself doesn’t have a lot of depth, each of the teams you can play as all have their own unique abilities and allow you to play the game in many different ways. The Council team offers up pretty much standard units with an archer, knight and wizard etc., but when you look at the other teams it becomes much more interesting. For instance, the Wraith unit, who is part of the Dark Elves team, can gain an increase in his maximum health and power by draining fallen units. Initially he’s not that strong a character but after draining a few characters he’s certainly a force to be reckoned with.
Each team puts a different angle on the game then and naturally this means that when you choose a different team to play as there’s a learning curve to surmount. Thankfully this is where the single-player challenges, there are around seven challenges for each team, come in as they force you to make use of the abilities of the different characters that each team consists of. The only problem is of course that the challenges won’t take you long to complete and aside from the tutorials, that’s all there is for the single-player experience.
Of course the primary focus of Hero Academy is its multiplayer action and if a multiplayer experience is what you’re after you’ll definitely see the game in a much more positive light. As mentioned earlier, you have the ability to not only play against fellow PC gamers but also to take on the many who have access to the iOS versions of the game. The multiplayer experience is reminiscent of a play-by-email chess game with one player taking their turn and then forwarding it to their opponent who can log in at any time, review the turn just taken and then make their own moves before sending the results to their opponent. It all works very nicely with my only complaint being that it appears to take up to a few minutes for the player on the iOS platform to receive the results whereas it’s pretty much instant on a PC. Naturally if you’re playing the game over a long period of time this isn’t a problem however. On the PC side you can have the game minimised and a pop-up notification will inform you that it’s your turn to play which means you can play the game whilst keeping yourself busy with other things.
I mentioned in the opening paragraph that Hero Academy on the PC is a significantly more expensive experience than it is on iOS. The base game when purchased from Steam gives you access to The Council and Team Fortress 2 teams and costs £3.99. The three additional teams can be purchased for £3.99 each and you can also pay 99p to unlock the ability to customise your team’s colours. If you want everything to begin with you can get the whole package for £11.99 which offers a fair saving on buying everything separately. Of course this doesn’t change the fact that the game is disappointingly more expensive than the iOS versions. However, you aren’t subjected to the annoying adverts that occur between turns here like the iOS versions and in many respects it’s worth paying the extra to not be continually subjected to these.
Hero Academy’s presentation is fine although the PC version is pretty much identical to the iOS versions of the game. Whilst this may be a disappointment to some it has to be said that the game looks more than good enough and the cartoon-style visuals are totally appropriate for the nature of the game. The simplistic visual style also means that almost all working PCs out there won’t have any problems running the game which has to be a good thing. Hero Academy is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. On loading the game you’ll have the option of taking a tutorial and all of the instructions for the eight small tutorials are given in text. All of the instructions for the challenges are given in text too meaning you’re always aware of what needs to be done. Naturally with the multiplayer games being asynchronous, the game supports text chat so there are no communication problems between you and your opponent. In short the game presents no accessibility problems for deaf gamers.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, turn-based strategy title to play online Hero Academy is certainly a game that’s worth considering. Compared to the iOS versions of the game it seems a little expensive but then you’re not being subjected to the annoying adverts that get in the way on the iOS version and I for one would rather play the PC version simply on that basis. The core gameplay is solid and the multiplayer games are enjoyable. Being able to play against someone with the iOS version of the game is a real bonus and means you’ll almost always have plenty of opponents to challenge. It’s a shame that there wasn’t more single-player content here but as a multiplayer experience it is enjoyable and well thought out. I really appreciate the way the different teams you can purchase make the game feel sufficiently different and open up different tactical options. In short, Hero Academy is well worth a look.