|Title||Heroes and Legends: Conquerors of Kolhar|
|Publisher||Phoenix Online Studios|
|Release Date||August 21, 2014|
Heroes and Legends: Conquerors of Kolhar is the latest game from Phoenix Online Studios, the publishers of story-driven games that I and others have loved. The screenshots for this game promised an old-school RPG experience. Did it deliver?
The land of Kolhar is plagued by a mysterious event called the Cataclysm every 177 years. That time is almost upon the land, and three heroes set out to find the mysterious Artifact of the Ancients to prevent it. Our heroes — a brash female warrior named Yaha, a loyal paladin named Allen and a contrarian mage named Benedict — are searching for the Artifact as the game opens. The story is pretty boring, honestly. There are a couple twists, including one you’ll see coming from a mile away. The characters are mostly one-dimensional, and they don’t really change over the course of the story. It doesn’t help that the story is told through a cut-rate visual novel style, with each character having only one pose to display their emotions.
As you look through this review, you may notice that most of the screenshots are of battle. That’s not a mistake. That’s the only thing you really do in the game. There’s no overworld to explore, and no NPCs with whom to converse. You’ll select either a story mission, which is comprised of a varied number of battles and maybe a boss, or a extra mission that’s exactly the same thing, but doesn’t advance the story (for level grinding, basically). That’s a problem right off the bat. Old-school RPGs work because of the variety of the town-overworld-dungeon-battle progression, as each place offers something different.
Still, only battles might not be a huge issue if they were good. And, to be fair, in a town-overworld-dungeon-battle progression system, it might have been a great battle system. Everything takes place in real-time, sort of like the Active Time Battle System from some Final Fantasy games. But, rather than having the player select an attack, the characters just auto-attack the enemy they are directly in front of (though, characters equipped with ranged weapons can also attack enemies that their allies are attacking). To add player interaction, each character can have up to five special abilities that players can trigger at any time (these won’t trigger automatically, even if you might want them to). These abilities recharge in a set number of seconds. With this system, battles move fast — a fight with three monsters can be over in seconds.
The real problem comes when you fight a string of ten or more battles at a time. Now, most of the time, the game is fairly balanced, so you should be fighting enemies that you can handle. The problem is that there are many times when it feels like the game is playing itself, since you won’t need to use any of the characters special abilities. Also, there are times when it feels like you couldn’t have done anything to stop one of your allies from dying.
The most frustrating about one of your allies dying is trying to revive them. You can revive them with a potion. Any kind of potion will do. Easy, right? Wrong! You can only have five items at a time. Not five each character, or five to take into each battle. Five, period. This is filled up by potions, weapons and armor. After each battle, you will get a random item. What item you get is partially determined by the combined luck of all the characters you still have alive, so you’ll need to raise that level if you want to get equipment that matches your enemy’s level. As your party members die, it becomes increasingly less likely that you’ll get what you need. Beating a battle with only one party member remaining, and then getting a lousy piece of equipment instead of the potion you needed feels incredibly cheap — like you never had a chance. So, at times, the game is too easy, and at other times too hard, but which it will be is basically luck.
There is a crafting system, but it is almost useless until a big difficulty spike midway through the game. As long as you keep adding to your luck stat periodically, you’ll get most of the equipment you’ll need. At the aforementioned difficulty spike, you’ll need to increase 20 levels to keep going, and you’ll need the best equipment. As you win the optional fights to gain levels, you’ll get equipment that won’t do you any good. You can recycle it for crafting items. You probably won’t get the materials you need, but you can take materials that you don’t need and trade them for better materials. Plus, you can get various materials at random events scattered over the world map. Once you’ve crafted the best equipment, there’s really nowhere else to go, and the game becomes a real slog at the end.
The presentation is actually one of the game’s saving graces, in a way. Even running on the best graphical settings, the game looked great, and ran perfectly. And the developers realized that hearing a single battle theme for hours on end would be grating, so there are three themes that loop at different times. The music isn’t great, but hearing a different theme does help to break the monotony a bit.
Other than that, there’s really not all that much to say about Heroes and Legends: Conquerors of Kolhar. Once you start fighting the battles, that’s really all there is. I played for about six hours, with not a lot happening. There are enough good ideas in there that I can’t say it’s bad, but there isn’t enough real meat to the game to keep it interesting. The ending leaves the story open for a sequel, though, so maybe we’ll get something a little deeper from this franchise in the future.
Review copy provided by publisher