By: Doug Scott
Having an addictive personality is a challenge. Some days all you can do is just make it through the next hour. Occupying your mind with other tasks is one of the best ways to deal with withdrawal. Games can be great distractions for kicking certain habits. Unless the game itself is addictive, and you’ve now only made things worse. This is the case with Hero Academy. I am utterly lost within it. I have lost sleep just to get one more turn. It is too late for me.
Hero Academy is a turn based strategy game. Two teams enter a nine by five grid and fight to destroy each others’ jewels while protecting their own. It’s decadently simple at first glance, but like any good parfait, Hero Academy has layers of strategy. Every turn gives players five action points that are spent on attacks, upgrades and movement. Select tiles on the grid power up offensive or defensive capabilities for units. So, careful positioning is more important than just having more units on the field. Variety in units is just as important as positioning. An archer, ninja and healer are far more formidable than four knights; doubly so if your limited upgrades are used to suit their strengths.
Gameplay is perfect for a mobile platform. Spending your five action points takes less than a minute. You submit your moves, and wait for your opponent’s response. It’s equally suitable for both quick on the go gaming for a few moves and long drawn out battles in which entire games are played.
Touch controls can be iffy on small screens. More often than not I will miss-tap and send my unit too far forward. These mistakes are easily remedied by the ability to reset your move. Anytime before you submit your move, you are able to reset your five action points. This lets you try multiple strategies and seeing their effectiveness in one turn before submitting your moves. Every game can be played differently. Each game starts you out with six items, a mix of units and upgrades. As each item is used, it is replaced randomly for use in your upcoming turns. Hoarding of upgrades can be an effective strategy, but so is starting off with your strong foot.
What cements Hero Academy as a must play title is the simple yet deep strategy, and the high production value, especially for a free game. The well drawn characters, animations and sound effects are the whipped cream on top of the parfait of gameplay. The randomly selected items and the two different factions (soon to be three) makes every game of Hero Academy different. No strategy is foolproof. This will bring you back for another game, and another, and before you know it, you’ll have two dozen games going at once because the other players aren’t playing fast enough. Seriously guys, hurry up and make your move so I can win already.
This review is based on a retail copy of Hero Academy provided by the reviewer. It is an iOS exclusive.