Battleheart: Legacy Review (iOS)
When the developers over at Mika Mobile realized they had a mega-hit on their hands with Battleheart, their popular, party-based real-time strategy RPG game, they started immediate work on a sequel. "It's going to be bigger," they cackled from deep within their dungeon, pouring D20s into a cauldron, "much bigger. It'll be a solo-character dungeon crawler so addictive people might just die from playing it too much." Lightning stuck as Mika Mobile's dark spell completed. The clouds grew black, and a dire still permeated the air. From that stillness, came... Battleheart Legacy.
Like its predecessor, Battleheart Legacy is a real-time strategy RPG, only this time around you manages the skills and equipment of a single, super-powered character rather than a team of dungeon-delvin' fools. There's also a bit of a story, too, complete with NPCs to talk to, towns to explore and quests to complete. Battleheart: Legacy's writing is razor sharp, managing to be a bit tongue-in-cheek and genre-savvy without ever going overboard, and with a main character who has actual character. During most conversations you're presented with several different options, all contextualized by different types of smiley faces. Red angry faces represent the more aggressive answers (usually threats of violence), yellow smiley faces are more helpful, but still not without their wit, and blue smarmy faces give the most snarky, self-serving responses. You get to read each answer before selecting them, so you'll never have that Bioware-style moment of selecting what you think is going to be a diplomatic response only to have your character start brandishing his/her weapon.
As with most RPGs, you level up by slaughtering monsters and gaining experience points. Each level nets points to allocate to one of your many attributes like Strength, Dexterity or Charisma. Not only does each point serve its own purpose, like Charisma granting bartering discounts or Endurance increasing your health pool, but they serve as prerequisites for specific pieces of gear and specific skills. Rather than use a skill tree or a more traditional class-based leveling system, Battleheart Legacy offers every player access to the abilities of every class at the same time. If you've got the stats, you can learn the skills. So, if you fancy being a sword-and-board Paladin-Witch-Barbarian-Ranger, you can do it. With each skill you unlock of a particular class you gain access to new ones with increasingly high attribute requirements. While the later skills are quite spectacular, the early ones are impressive enough in their own right that you're not screwing yourself over by spreading out your points and having a taste of each class. This unique character progression system adds some great depth to Battleheart Legacy and keeps players motivated to do "just one more dungeon" in the hopes of getting enough gold or experience to get that next goody.
Outside of town-hopping and character min-maxing, the rest of your time will be spent scouring dank dungeons for loot and glory, trying desperately to survive the endless hordes of badguys anxious to make you into a level zero corpse. Battleheart Legacy's combat is fast-paced and furious. Enemies snort and snarl with enthusiasm, brandishing an intelligence not often seen in RPGs— every battle is a nice challenge, and each victory feels earned. Should you die, well, it's not too big of a deal. You lose some gold and get booted to the world map, but your experience points and items stay intact.
Battleheart Legacy makes use of a minimalist visual style that, while clean and easily accessible, won't exactly wow you. Its controls, too, are a bit of a sticking point, as during the heat of battle, it's easy to accidentally click the wrong target or move to the wrong area. Still, these issues are minor, and will probably go unnoticed by players as they're too distracted by the ludicrous amounts of fun they're having.
This review is based on a digitally downloaded copy of Battleheart: Legacy for iOS.