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iPhone  header logo

Horde of Heroes

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Playing it safe

Product: Horde of Heroes | Publisher: Everplay Interactive | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Puzzle, RPG | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
Horde of Heroes iPhone, thumbnail 1
Horde of Heroes is a free-to-play game where you have gems on a grid and must match three or more to remove them from play and NO WAIT WAIT DON'T CLOSE THE PAGE!

So yes, okay, it's a match-three. But there are some brilliant match-three games out there, and there are always new ways of experimenting within a genre.

For the longest time everyone thought Ultima Online was the only way to do MMOs, but then EverQuest came along to shake things up, and then so did World of Warcraft. There's always room for improvement.

I'll be finding out whether Horde of Heroes is indeed a step forward for this genre-within-a-genre or just another also-ran over the course of the following week.

First impressions

When I'd played Horde of Heroes for a bit and decided I had enough experience of it to write up my first impressions, my attention was diverted and I had to go and do something else. When I came back to writing this first section up, I had completely forgotten the name of the game and indeed anything about how it played.

Is that a good sign? Probably not.

What I did remember was the art style, which is colourful and fun and cute and everything pixel-art should be in a frothy little time-waster of a match-three puzzler.

I also remembered the thin layer of sloppiness that sullied its opening moments. The game starts off in portrait, then changes to landscape for a video, then back to portrait for the game again, which seemed a bit thoughtless.

Then there was the request for me to log into Facebook, and the subsequent crash to the home screen, followed by a quick restart, and the same achievement for logging in, pinging in Game Center twice.

But that art is very nice, and I like the sound too. It's a curious combination: epic orchestral scores with swooshing weapon slashes, and grungy yet squidgy and sweet synthesised sounds. It's like a Lord of the Rings boxset has made a baby with a Super Nintendo's sound chip, only the baby is made of Bubbaloo, not silicon.

It's safe to say I like the presentation of Horde of Heroes, then. I hope the gameplay becomes a little more memorable over the coming days.

IAPs explained
You can purchase both Diamonds and Keys (with prices starting at £1.49 / $1.99), which are used to open treasure chests with loot inside, buy more moves in levels, purchase life restoring potions, and so on. You get free bit and bobs just by logging in each day, and you're given free keys, lives, and Diamonds when you watch ads.
Day 3: A well-worn genre

I was harsh on Horde of Heroes in the first segment of this review because it's formulaic and lacking in ambition - all the more galling in light of the stylish presentation.

You get the feeling after three days of play that the best you might ever say about the Horde of Heroes is that it's "polished" or "refined". I'm yet to find a new idea, though all the old ones cribbed from Bejeweled, Candy Crush Saga, and so on are all replicated well.

If you connect more than three gems, you end up with a special gem that will detonate when matched with similar colours or clear all gems of a certain colour from the board or remove a whole line when activated. There are pieces that can't be matched with other similar pieces, but must be destroyed by matching the gems in close proximity.

Occasionally you need to get an icon of an apple to the bottom of the field by matching the tiles below it. Sometimes you'll have a limited number of moves to complete the board. Almost always will you be up against a timer, with your performance being graded against how quickly you finish the stage. But so far I haven't seen anything brand new.

The one interesting area in which I hope the game experiments further is its RPG elements.

Each stage is essentially a battle in which you must beat an opponent before they reduce your health to zero. You level-up your character, and can assign points to improve the chance of certain gems appearing or increase your health.

This isn't a revelation in game design, but it's enough of a spin to keep me interested in playing further.

Day 7: Returning to previous descriptions

After a week with Horde of Heroes, I've come to accept that it's not going to try and be groundbreaking, and though I feel that's a shame, for the reasons I mention in the updates above, I do also understand that not every game has to be revolutionary.

Taken as a standard match-three puzzler with an RPG spin, Horde of Heroes is fine.

You're fighting enemies, levelling up, grabbing new gear from the chests found at the end of levels (opened with keys you earn through play), and since you're often being attacked and taking damage stages are that little bit more time-sensitive and energetic.

Playing through the single-player so far has been a bit of a chore, but that's more a comment on the fact that I've played a million of these games before and am growing apathetic - as is, I would argue, the audience for this genre on mobile.

It's an undeniably good-looking game, but one minor quibble I have with the visuals is that a few of the special blocks, which deal out extra damage when matched, look an awful lot like other blocks they can't be matched with.

Horde of Heroes is quite "polished", it's "refined", but it's also not doing a lot that you haven't seen before. If you're yet to really latch onto a match-three puzzler, and the superb art style appeals to you, then this is probably worth a download.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.
Horde of Heroes
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 14 May 2014
Horde of Heroes features outstanding presentation, but that's one of the very few aspects of it that makes it stand apart from the crowd of match-3 games available already
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