The Nardio Review
Is Hero Emblems Worth Your Time?
What Should You Play it on?
I prefer playing it on my tablet as it allows me to move around the tiles easier.
Why it Works
Hero Emblem is an match-three game that also incorporates some RPG elements like a leveling system and a story. I’m a sucker for match-three type games AND RPGs so this is right up my alley.
The mechanics are simple and pretty much like any other match-three game out there. Match three or more tiles of the same type.
From there things get interesting. In Hero Emblems the different tiles are associated with the four characters. When you make a match, the characters will perform an action: The cleric heals, the witch and swordsman are DPS and the knight buffs the defense and will attack if the defense meter is full. When you match 4 you create a special tile that when you match again allows your characters to pull off special moves. When you match 5 you create a super special tile that looks like a cross. When you switch positions of this with an adjacent tile the character associated with said tile will pull off their ultimate move. Unlike other match three games, you cannot continue moving tiles around once you have made your initial move. It takes a little bit of time to get used to, but this limitation makes sense as one turn = one move.
One of the great things about the match three aspect of Hero Emblems is that there’s no timer during your turn. That means you can actually strategize and set up huge combos or to unleash on your unsuspecting foes. Yes, there is still an element of luck and randomness to it, but it feels like you have much more control over the setup than the timed match three games.
The combat system itself is turned-based. As mentioned above, each move you make counts as a turn, so you’ll have to plan carefully as the enemy forces might overwhelm you. Naturally, the enemies also attack on their specified turn, which you’ll see above their head. In the beginning, the enemies are fairly easy, but as you continue many have debuffs that can either lower your health or block you from moving tiles around freely. It gets especially crazy as you continue later on. A debuff that might have only hit for 2 in the beginning now hits for 22, for each tile that has a debuff. That means if you have 4+ tiles with a poison debuff you’re getting damaged for 88 per turn until you remove it. How do you remove it? By matching the tiles of course! Again, as you continue it gets harder to remove these debuffs. What took one match now might take two or even three. As you progress further you really need to remove as many debuffs as possible to avoid stacking damage. Sometimes it gets really cheap because just as you’re clearing the last debuff five more appear. Sometimes the enemies attack so quickly you don’t have time to recuperate and have to make do with what you have, or use an item to get rid of the debuffs immediately.
You also run into some environmental hazards later on that add further threats to your mission. With that said, it never felt super cheap. Sure, I would get frustrated when I’d die on a boss 5+ times, but I found myself enjoying the challenge. It never seemed impossible and after saving up enough money to get new skills and emblems, I would overpower the boss easily. That is until I ran into the next end boss.
The RPG aspect comes into play in several areas. As you fight enemies and bosses, you can experience points for each of your characters. As they level up, their attack power, health and defense increase. The health and defense are pooled together in the form of two bars in the lower left hand corner of the screen. The attack power is unique to the unit, so the higher their level the stronger their attack. Of course for the cleric her attack is associated with her healing ability.
Leveling up isn’t the only way to increase your stats though. The other option is to purchase emblems. These provide a huge stat boosts – for a cost. The further along you get with the emblems, the more expensive they are. The nice part is the gold you get from defeating monsters and completing quests increases as well so you never have to grind too much to upgrade your emblems.
Besides emblems, you can also buy or find new skills. Sadly, you can only equip one per person (though the knight is able to equip two regular skills as he has both defense and offense). This is where the hidden depth of the game appears. You’ll need to choose the right skills to successfully fight against enemies and bosses as later on they will be able to resist certain elemental-based attacks. On the flip side, they will also be weak to certain attacks as well. A good rule of thumb is to pay attention to the type of attack the enemy pulls out. Fire-based enemies will be able to resist fire but are weak against ice. Water based enemies are weak against lightning and so on. One of my favorite skills is for the healer. When you match a special tile, it will turn regular tiles into special ones, thus leading to some very strong combo attacks. It’s especially useful during boss fights as you can quickly bring down its health with the power of combos and special attacks.
Besides the actual gameplay, the animation and art here are great. It’s very cutesy and reminds me of Mika Mobile games with its simplistic but bright colors and designs. There are some nice little touches to the art that you don’t notice unless you’re looking for it. For example, when you’re on the boat it bobs up and down to make it seem like you are actually traveling by water. Also, whenever you update your emblem your weapons also change appearance. There’s also relatively seamless transition between battles and the story segments of the game.
The music is good, but forgettable and not varied. It melds into the background which is fine, but I think the lack of variation was a pretty big miss on the part of the developers. Especially when they put so much attention on the rest of the game. As for the story, meh. Currently, it seems like it will go the traditional route of good defeating evil by being put on a dangerous quest, but I’m hoping it goes the other direction and their quest is what releases the God of Evil. Now THAT would be a cool twist (and if that is what happens, please don’t spoil it for me). The writing is okay. I noticed a couple things that were misspelled and sometimes the dialogue can be a little clunky. It also seems like everyone HATES the cleric. Like, all they do is make fun of her. I’m surprised she hasn’t left them to fend for themselves.
That’s not enough to turn me off of Hero Emblems. I’ve already gotten hours of entertainment out of it and it’s only $3.99! So what are you waiting for? Go get it now!
- Available for iOS $3.99
- 115 MB
- iOS 6.1 or above
HeatPot Games– Developer
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