Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Warhammer Quest: My Kind of Quest

My guys cut their way through a pack of Skaven
Warhammer Quest is a mobile game by Rodeo Games based on the Warhammer Fantasy Battles setting by Games Workshop. It is a turn-based, single player game where you take a party of four warriors through dungeons in search of loot, gold, and experience points. Loot makes you tougher, gold can be spent on loot, and experience points allow you to level up and learn new abilities. That's pretty much the whole game.

And I love it!
The graphics are nice, but nothing special. The game is in 3D, but since the only view available is top-down, you are mostly going to be looking at your warriors' shoulders and the tops of their heads. I do appreciate some small touches in the game, like the way in which your characters look around when idle. I also like that you can zoom in and out and rotate the map using two fingers.

The sound design is good, with satisfying chops and thuds as your heroes fight monsters. The music is going to be familiar to fans of fantasy gaming, since it sounds exactly like the sort of music you expect to hear. To be honest, I quite like the music, and whenever I pick up the game after not playing it for a while, the music welcomes me back.

One weird thing about the game is that you rotate your device to bring up your inventory

The gameplay is very quick to learn, where you tap your characters to select them, tap to select a square to move to and tap again to move to it, tap enemies to target them and tap again to attack them, tap to display abilities or items, tap the one your want to use, and tap again to use it. You can turn your device sideways to bring up your inventory to swap out the items you have equipped. Between battles, you can visit towns to pick up quests, buy items, and train your heroes when they are ready to level up.

In a game that consists of tapping your way through endless hordes of monsters, I appreciate any sort of world building. On the characters' stat screens, for instance, you get a brief blurb about their character class. Occasionally you get a random encounter, where your warriors might get lost on the road or stuck in a storm. Usually the effects of these encounters are that a warrior has a penalty applied to him or her for the next dungoen, but even this small touch helps draw you into the Warhammer world.

Altathir's bio doesn't mention her love for pancakes
Quests are simple, inevitably involving going into a nearby dungeon and clearing it out. When you pick up a quest, you get a short story segment, and further brief story segments when you enter the dungeon, reach the final room, complete the room, and return to town. These stories are usually pretty generic, but I love this sort of thing, so no matter how mediocre the writing was, I ate them up.

The strategy in the game revolves around how to equip your warriors, how to position them in combat, which enemies to attack, and which abilities to use. I found that the most important thing was knowing when to heal your warriors, since a fight will go downhill quickly if even one of your warriors gets knocked out.

How could you not want to play a game based on this?
Warhammer Quest is based on the old board game Warhammer Quest, which was itself based on HeroQuest, also by Games Workshop. I never played Warhammer Quest as a kid, but my brothers and I sure loved HeroQuest, so playing Warhammer Quest brings back some of that nostalgia. Of course, at the time I had no idea what sort of money-generating empire Games Workshop was building, though that comes through clearly in Warhammer Quest. When you buy the game in the App Store, it comes with two types of enemies (orcs and vermin, though the vermin hardly count), four warriors (chaos marauder, elf waywatcher, dwarf ironbreaker, and gray wizard), and a single questline. If that is not enough for you, there are more warriors, enemies, questlines, and even tilesets and individual weapons you can buy in the App Store.

I can't get too mad, though, because I played the game for twenty hours before I felt compelled to buy any DLC, and even then it was the Skaven enemy/quest pack, and you probably know how I love Skaven! I was excited at the release of the dwarf trollslayer, and then later the witch hunter, but by then I had grown so fond of my starting warriors that I decided to stick with my existing party. As I tend to do, I had come up with personalities for all of them. The game had randomly generated their names, and they are:

Grisak the Bloody: He is a furious berserker in combat, but he is quiet and brooding when in town. Among his friends, he relaxes and horrifies them with grisly jokes and songs.
Okri Half-nose: He may be gruff, but he has a good heart and is totally dependable to his friends. When danger threatens, he knows that his place is between his friends and the enemy, shielding even the elf with his life.
Altathir: She fights with total focus, wasting neither movements nor words. Despite her initial misgivings, she has learned to trust her friends, and has even grown to like them, though she would never admit it.
Balthasil Arcanus: He sees himself as the leader of the party and the most important member, since he originally formed the party. He picks his words carefully and somehow manages to keep this disparate band together.

If you are into turn-based strategy games, fantasy games, the Warhammer world, or even if you're just looking for a fun mobile game to kill some time on your morning commute, I think you should give Warhammer Quest a try. Its hooks may be simple, but if you're anything like me, they sink deep!

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