By Tyler Trosper / September 14th, 2016
|Title||Battles of Norghan|
|Release Date||April 8th 2016 (originally 2005)|
|Genre||Turn-based Strategy RPG|
Playing Battles of Norghan is a lot of work. This is the kind of game where, though the in-game tutorial tries to be helpful, you pretty much have to rely on the manual in order to fully comprehend everything. However, just as the game promises, if you are looking for a team manager that provides a lot of depth, this might be the game for you.
I’ll start with the elephant in the room. Battles of Norghan originally released back in 2005. As such, the visuals have not aged well. Half the game relies heavily on menus to manage your team of heroes and fantasy creatures, but each one has the same bland brown palette. Battles sport 2D sprites that aren’t in and of themselves terrible, but the lack of any kind of animation makes them feel more like cardboard cutouts. Moving makes a character instantly appear in a space, and there are no indications of attacks beyond sound effects and the event log. Furthermore, the sound is serviceable, as it really helps to indicate what is going on in battles, though the music can be charming though sparse. The aesthetics aren’t a huge impediment to the game, but it does detract from the immersion.
However, if you look past the graphics, there is a pretty in-depth game behind the surface. The game puts you in charge of one to six tribes that are competing in a tournament created by the King of Norghan. You start out with a handful of gold, and the amount differs depending on which game mode you choose. From there, you attend an auction and bet on which warriors you want on your side. They can either be hired for a few matches, a year, or for a member contract that requires a salary. Time and age is also a factor, as many of the warriors will retire at a certain age. The game boasts over 20 fantasy races and unit types, many with different traits and even rivalries with other races. From there, you must buy weapons and equipment for your warriors, but you also have the option to train specific stats.
On a negative note, there are two other options: Spy Other Clans and Spy Next Enemy. However, those options aren’t available unless you get the Gold Version of Battles of Norghan, whereas this review copy is only the basic version. Furthermore, the Gold Version appears to add more customization to the combat along with providing more viewable statistics. I suppose you could say it’s like DLC, as the Gold Version is only $5 more, but it was unfortunate to see a feature listed in the game only to get the message, “The features is only in the Gold Version of BoN.” If that is the case, why have it listed at all in the basic version? For reference, the standard version of the game is $14.99, the Gold Version is $19.98, though there is a free demo as well.
Once you drive through menu after menu, you can finally take part in the tournament. Battles take place on an open field, and you assign where to place each of your hired units. At first, battles feel pretty barren, as you can really only afford a few warriors. Often times I found myself playing Where’s Waldo with my enemies, scrolling through the battlefield until I finally found them. However, battles can grow larger as you recruit more mercenaries to your team. The game is turn-based, and each unit is given a certain amount of speed points each turn to either move, attack, or cast a spell. Distance plays a key part in performing attacks and magic. Each character’s stats are displayed to the right of the screen each turn. However, the game assaults you with so many stats at once, I had to go through the text with a fine toothed comb to find out if my character was low on HP or not. With that said, battles can be quite difficult. But if that isn’t your cup of tea, there are eight difficulties to choose from, nine if you choose the custom difficulty.
Replayability is very high in Battles of Norghan because, technically, the game doesn’t end. Sure, you can try to become number one in the premium division, but the game never really tells you what you should and shouldn’t do. That being said, there isn’t really much of a story to speak of beyond a few paragraphs in a black text box. The game is purely for managing your clan and taking part in battles, so don’t come looking for a sprawling narrative here. As mentioned earlier, there are three different game modes and nine difficulties, in case you want to make the game harder or easier on multiple playthroughs. Though I only spent less than 10 hours on the game, one could easily put five times that amount trying to become the best and tackle the different difficulties.
I have to admit, Battles of Norghan was tough for me. I’m only a fan of a few strategy RPGs. For this title, I was daunted by the amount of menus and customization thrown at me. There are tutorials and quick tips, but, as the game mentions, reading the manual for the game provides a lot more insight. Mitorah Games even released a tutorial video if that doesn’t help. What I’m trying to say is this – Battles of Norghan is a game you can’t take lightly. But if you give it enough time and learn every nook and cranny of its clan management and battle system, you might have a good time. However, if you aren’t a fan of the genre already, this title won’t be the one to win you over.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
Battles of NorghanMitorah GamesPCStrategy RPG