Please Note that the game was reviewed on the PC platform.
On the surface Hero Academy seems like the kind of game you pick up in a Steam sale and leave uninstalled on your hard drive for all eternity. Whilst this may be the case for some, I pity the poor souls who don’t give this charming little game a chance. Available at only £3.99 on Steam for the base game, is this bite sized turn based strategy game worth your time and money?
Hero Academy is a champion for how Asynchronous multiplayer can work, and boy does it work! Players take turns to amass their armies, move them into the correct position and then attack the enemy. Each action aforementioned uses one of the players move’s, of which you have 5. Seems pretty simple, and it is, however it’s the simplicity that makes the game both approachable and enjoyable. However don’t get me wrong, while it is simple, there is an element of strategy that will have you spamming the redo button over and over whilst you perfect your turn. One turn can take as little as a few seconds to as long as 5 minutes as you deliberate whether to move your healer deep into enemy territory to revive your downed melee soldier. Those decisions are the crux of the game and are exactly what will keep you coming back for more.
There are two win conditions available here, the first being when you destroy your opponents Crystal, or Crystals depending on the map, and the second being obliterating the enemies forces so that they no longer have any troops to place on the map. In my time with Hero Academy the latter has been favoured by most players, especially considering you only have 24 items and characters to begin with. This is just another example of how simple gameplay mechanics can make you stop and think about your strategy.
However you don’t have to sit down and finish a game in one sitting, oh no, Hero Academy offers the player the opportunity to take a break of up to two weeks before a game “times out” and you lose by default, which is brilliant for those that aren’t always at their computers and those that want a game on in the background whilst doing something else. This does come as one of the game’s major flaws though, because many people simply forget about their games and soon let them time out, in my time with Hero Academy I’ve only managed to finish a handful of games due to the majority simply being left by my opponent.
What’s more is the multitude of different maps, another factor in this tactical equation. Some maps feature multiple Crystals, some feature train tracks which can get your soldiers killed if your enemy steps of a certain space and squares that offer buffs to your troops. Maps are tightly condensed, meaning there is very limited hiding space if there are too many troops on the field at any given time, keeping the game interesting and causing a lot of mindless murder, I mean, who doesn’t like murder?
Moreover there are 6 different armies to chose from, including the PC exclusive Team Fortress 2 litter of troops. The differences in these troops are very subtle, with each class having a healer, a long range troop, a melee troop and a mage all with differing stats. The different classes don’t change the game all that much, but can make you rethink some of your more in depth strategies. Furthermore only 2 of the 6 classes are unlocked at the start, with the remaining four available as Microtransactions. The two you get free of charge are the Team Fortress 2 and Council classes however the Dark Elves and Dwarves are only £3.99 each to purchase if you so wish. The Shaolin class are slightly cheaper at only £2.99, however the Tribes pack can only be obtained via the gold edition of the game, which also features the aforementioned classes, a challenge pack and uniform colour pack and is priced at £12.99.
In keeping with tradition Robot Entertainment have opted for a cartoon take in the graphical department of Hero Academy, with over the top animations and taunts that can be sent after a particularly good turn. The game certainly isn’t going to test your system, although that isn’t to say it’s ugly because it certainly is not. Moreover the general user interface works well and the menus, of which there are many, are very user friendly with everything being where you would expect it to be.
The sound here is nothing to really write home about either, the character attack sounds fit fairly well with the overall theme and the music is mediocre. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anything, but it won’t blow your socks off either, and during my time with the game I found myself just listening to a Youtube playlist.
I soon found myself returning to Hero Academy, even whilst writing this review. Myself and Crimson_Rebel are battling it out and although he is handing my ass to me, it’s just the sort of game that you want to play it for an hour or so every day to catch up on your matches. I can see myself easily plugging over 50 hours into this game, and for a measly £3.99 I don’t think many other games can beat it on value for money.
In conclusion Hero Academy will slowly suck away your free time until you can expertly flank your opponent and obliterate their forces in your 5 moves. I wholeheartedly recommend this fun little game, whether you’re a master strategist Total War veteran or the household Farmville player, I think people of all gaming capacities can find some enjoyment here.