Smitten, a perfect word to describe how I felt after playing Rimelands: Hammer of Thor. You may be asking yourself, ‘Does he mean he’s in love with the game or that he was brutally beaten by it?’ Well the answer is both.
Rimelands: Hammer of Thor is a very traditional style RPG that goes so far to prove that fact that the game shows you the dice rolls normally hidden behind the scenes. You have three basic talent trees to choose from, barbarian, assassin, and shaman. While you can mix your talents, based on my experience I would definitely choose one and stick with it.
I have an affinity for magic users and thus chose to play as a shaman. Not surprisingly the game was more difficult to early on as seems to be the customary format for magic classes in RPGs. However, I found the difficulty to be incredibly frustrating at times, having to replay almost every fight early in the game numerous times because dice rolls simply were not in my favor. Despite this I did find myself coming back again and again wanting to take another shot at the fights, knowing that I could win somehow.
Tutorial: Because of the complexity of the game, it is necessary to have a lengthy tutorial. While long tutorials are often turn offs for most gamers it is a necessary evil to push through. Fortunately, the information presented (in a succinct yet detailed manner) is spread out enough that it can be absorbed with relative ease.
Highly Detailed Areas: If you take the time to stop and look around in any given area you’ll find that there is an incredibly high level of detail in every single piece of environment. Buildings clearly have individual bricks in them, trees have leaves on them, floors have individual tiles, and the list goes on and on.
Dungeons and Dragons style combat: Showing the dice rolls works two fold: Gives the game a much more original visual flare compared to most RPGs, and it adds a great deal of Dungeons and Dragons flavor that the app store is still very lite on.
Combat Variety: No matter how you choose to engage in combat in Rimelands you will be satisfied with the bevy of choices to make with each encounter. Despite being magic focused I often found myself choosing to fire my gun rather than take a step towards an enemy in order to remain on the offensive as much as possible. Changing up the combat style from my normal routine like this was very refreshing and greatly enhanced my satisfaction with encounters.
Enemy Variety: Unlike many other RPGs you don’t start out killing rats and work your way up to bigger targets. There are lots of human targets to engage, but it’s not long at all before you start to see more and more monsters. The resistances/immunities to specific attacks forces the player to adapt and change their play style much more frequently in order to succeed.
Sound: Sound effects are distinct and very crisp. Particularly noticeable during the heat of combat are the sword swings and magic spell connects.
The music is fitting as well. The dungeon music is foreboding and moody while the town music is noticeably lighter but still portrays a sense of uneasiness.
Menus: Not only are the menus simple and easy to use, there is a real classic RPG feel to them as well visually. Great aesthetic that is just one more example of that excellent traditional RPG quality that makes this the complete package.
Dark Dungeons: Working completely against the great boon that is the highly detailed environments are the often unnecessarily overly dark dungeons that add a good sense of foreboding to the mood of the game, but this darkness is a little too extreme and ends up reducing this effect.
Dpad Responsiveness: The virtual dpad is not as responsive as one would like. Frequently I found myself tapping the arrows more than once to get my character to move. This gets to be a little grating but is only a minor setback.
No Ability to Grind Experience: Due to the incredibly linear nature of the game there are only a set number of enemies to fight at any given time in any area. This eliminates the option for players like me that prefer to fight many extra rounds early in the game to help establish a level cushion to ease the rest of the game’s flow. Although the developers considered this to be a good thing, this lack of ability to grind ends up forcing the player to struggle through the game more so than they may prefer.
Small annoyances aside, Rimelands: Hammer of Thor is simply one of the highest quality traditional role-playing game experiences available on the app store. It’s tough as nails, but the combat have you coming back for more.
Rimelands: Hammer of Thor was developed by Crescent Moon Games, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPod touch 3G. The price is $4.99.