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iPad  header logo

Hell: Fight for Gilrand

For: iPad

Eternal torment is better than it sounds

Product: Hell: Fight for Gilrand | Publisher: Slitherine Software | Format: iPad | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Hell: Fight for Gilrand iPad, thumbnail 1
Waste not, want not is something that Slitherine Software seem to have taken to heart. Its latest game, Hell, is the third outing for the Battle Academy engine, after worthy historical monster Pike & Shot.

This time it's not just a worthy monster but a real one. The action's moved from history to a fantasy realm invaded by demons.

The developer seems to be well aware of that this is old ground, and they've approached it with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

From the tutorial where you have to guide some thirsty footsoldiers to overcome a demonic presence in the pub, Hell has an infections sense of silliness.

Hellish humour

But that grinning exterior hides a fanged jaw. Unlike the majority of lightweight fantasy strategy titles, Hell offers a serious challenge.

Waltz into even the easiest scenario on the easiest setting and the demons will have you for breakfast. This is a game that demands respect.

The interface is simplicity itself. Double tap on a unit to select, then double tap on the target square to attack or move. Some units, like Battle Priests and Wizards have spells or special attacks, but it's all easy to pick up and play.

Where previous games with this engine got their strategy from combined arms, Hell is all about positioning. If you can line up a unit unopposed to the left or right of an assaulting squad, the attack gets a support bonus.

Line it up to the side or rear and you get a bigger flank bonus. These stack, too, so trapping an enemy in a pincer can be devastating.

Of course, the demons will be trying as hard as possible to disrupt your tight formations. They're well-placed to do this, most of their units being soft in melee but fast and with ranged attacks.

So they can hit and run, punching a hole in the line for faster troops to exploit before retreating.

Satanic strategy

You have missile units too, and they have similar capabilities, albeit not as quick or flexible. Coordinating your units to keep fragile scouts and ranged troops out of the fray is all part of the challenge.

Although the focus may have shifted to unit positions, there are still plenty of different troop types to play with.

Human warriors come with an impressive variety of arms and armour. Demons appear in many horrid guises from the evocatively named Gloom Imps to the vile Revenants.

The twenty included campaign scenarios have you commanding the people of Gilrand. But if you want a taste of Satanic delights then you can play as the demons in the skirmish or multi-player modes.

The former generates a map based on player-selected criteria, while the latter allows games against opponents with the PC version of the game. Both extend the shelf life of this already engrossing game by a considerable amount.

Devilish details

One area in which Hell falls short of its peers is in presentation. While the visuals are crisp enough and the sound appropriately ghoulish, the play field looks garish and cluttered.

Pop ups with battle statistics and a colour-coded movement grid are there to help, but they can also add to the visual confusion.

It also feels like the kind of game that could benefit from some light role-playing elements. None of the Battle Academy engine games link the scenarios in their campaigns.

Without carrying units between games there's no sense of ownership as they survive and grow. That's a minor shortcoming in a historical game. But we've come to expect it in fantasy fare, and it seems like this title would benefit from the added sense of narrative.

These are small complaints. Hell feels like an occult anomaly, a fearsome fire burning in the placid lake of light fantasy gaming.

Easy to get into but hard to master and with plenty of play modes and variety, it looks like it isn't just tunes. The devil has all the best mobile games too.
Hell: Fight for Gilrand
Reviewer photo
Matt Thrower | 3 March 2015
A great mix of engaging fantasy and challenging strategy, offering big replay value for the asking price
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