ravenhoe's Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes (PC) review

Gorgeous Puzzle game that is addictive indeed but lacks depth

Clash of Heroes is a rather unusual entry in the Might & Magic series and a definite detour from the usual RPG/strategy fair. The best way to describe it would be a blend of old school top-down scroller (think Zelda) with a healthy blend of Columns, Bejeweled, Tetris or similar sort of create rows of similar colours game.

The visuals of this game are gorgeous and both the crisp resolution, background graphics and animations are something to behold. Like some of the gameplay, the game takes more than one nod from similar games you might expect to see on consoles and handheld systems (Fire Emblem series etc.) and if you are a fan of this kind of style, COH will definitely please you.

Now the most important thing is the gameplay. The description of the game might say that you alternate between exploring and combat, but take that 'exploring bit' with a grain of salt as you pretty much follow a linear path in the story with some optional sidequests here and there which all consist of a bounty on a specific enemy you have to defeat. Talking of story, if your familiar with the ole' fashioned good vs. evil scheme, you will pretty much know all there is to know about the story.

The core of the game and gameplay is the combat. You and your enemy both have ranks and ranks of different units (you can only take three into combat at a time but can change this army set-up in between matches). In order to make your units attack, you will have to create rows of matching units and colours. This will activate the unit and prepare the attack that will happen at a later stage (depending on the unit). The attacking unit will head off towards the enemy field, destroy enemy units it encounters (depending on the HP of that unit) and if it's still going (alive) it will hit the enemy player himself. If the enemy player is down to zero HP, you win the match. Now you know the basic principle but as you would expect, there are tons and tons of special moves you can do, variations, special powers, walls you can build, double and triple attacks and so forth.

The game is highly addictive and I found myself wanting to try that one more time to defeat the demon or just play one more match and that is good. You can also find some weapons and special items all over the world that boost specific abilities and the aforementioned army set-up makes up for some nice variety in gameplay. The game is divided into campaigns/chapters and each comes with its own tileset and creatures and all are more or less inspired by some form of creature tier or another, nature, hell, oriental etc.

The problem I have with this game is that each chapter plays out a bit too much like the aforementioned. You are always reset to zero whenever you start a new chapter as you start a new character. You fight your way to the end of the chapter, maxing out your level and that of your creatures and defeating the big boss. Now that you experienced all the complexities the game has to offer, instead of putting on the Ritz and making the game even more deep and interesting, you are reset back to zero and start all over again. Albeit with different creatures and tiles but the basic principle never changes. Hence, when I played through the first three or four chapters, I had not much inclination to go on as the story might be cute and witty but not really interesting enough to warrant me playing this game through the end as it lacks the game mechanics to go with it.

All in all, a good game that has some brilliant ideas and is a rare treat of puzzle-gaming that is so hard to find on the PC these days but a bit more longevity and progressive gameplay would have given this game more legs than it has. Still a keeper for the occasional quick skirmish.

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