Overall Score 68%
Dwarves donít have a reputation for getting things done quickly or efficiently. Gritty perseverance and endurance though are their specialties, and so it comes as no surprise that Heavy Hogur is a stereotypical Dwarven protagonist. He grunts as the player issues him orders and shuffles to his next waypoint gruffly. About the only time any sort of emotion is detectable at all is when he spies a cache of jewels from the corner of his eye. After procuring them with a few mighty blows of his mining pick from the surrounding rocks, he slowly shuffles of again, sometimes becoming stuck, becoming lost or occasionally by some kind of miraculous occurrence, actually finds his way to the level exit.
Heavy Hogur is a classic 3-D puzzler. Levels upon levels of brainteasers await the player over 5 increasingly difficult chapters. The goal of each level is to guide Hogur to the exit after mining all of the available crystals. If Hogur makes it to the exit and hasnít collected all the loot on the level, he canít leave. Like most Dwarves, Hogur is of generous bodily proportions. So heavy is he that most tiles that he walks over will sink one level in a downwards direction as he leaves them. His physique also precludes him from being able to climb over even the slightest differential in terrain height, and so he must plan carefully where he walks and the order in which he visits tiles on the level (which could easily bring us back to the assumption in paragraph one; in the case of Dwarves, organisational skill and intellect not being amongst their perceived strong points).
Unlocking chapters is automatically achieved once a certain amount of crystals have been collected in total. The levels in each chapter can be played in any order and some are remarkably easier to solve than others. In order to unlock the later chapters though youíll need to have cleared a majority of the earlier levels. Thereís no story to accompany the gameplay to speak of; something that I feel might have added to my limited enjoyment of the game.
To be honest, I find that Iím next to hopeless at these brainteaser type games and my enjoyment of Heavy Hogur was further hampered by the very slow pace of the dwarf as he stumbles and shuffles around the environments and works at the gemstones. The player moves Hogur around by left-clicking on a tile, but poor auto-path finding means that often I needed to path Hogur one square at a time. A small slip of the mouse pointer might send him down onto a lower tier of the level, rendering it impossible to complete. Lack of an undo feature means that youíll have to start each level over after even one mistake. The lack of gameplay elements means that all the levels seem to rely more or less on the same tactics, but become more difficult simply by becoming larger and more tedious to clear. Having said that, the game is not a cakewalk, and even dedicated puzzle nuts will find a challenge.
Generally, the game will tell you via a pop-up when Hogur has erroneously blocked himself in and will save the player the frustration of continuing on in a hopeless situation. Maps can be zoomed and rotated via the arrow keys to allow the player to visualise the whole level before moving Hogur at all. Itís not the type of game for hit and miss style players, in fact, if you donít have a pre-planned path set before Hogur takes even one step, then youíre usually going to fail. The game tests the players ability to analyse patterns and predict movement in advance of the action. At the start of the game this is an easy yet unnecessarily tedious and slow task, then later on it becomes more demanding in terms of foresight and yet remains a monotonous repetition of the same gameplay elements. I really canít say I enjoyed it very much. For a similar style of game that was for me far more fun to play, Iíd recommend the recently reviewed Puzzle Dimension.
I really did want to like Heavy Hogur more than I did. The presentation is simply superb. Graphics and animations are top notch. The background music is a haunting and evocative and the sound effects as Hogur huffs and puffs his way around the dungeon environments just suit the character perfectly. Listen carefully and youíll hear ambient noise like wind whistling through the granite caverns, and the sounds of the stone giving way under the considerable weight of the clumsy hero. Hogur is a likable character. His bumbling and grumbling will endear him to the player even if the lacklustre gameplay wonít make the game a hit in its own right. Youíll want him to claim all the loot and get to the exit but after a dozen tries at the same level, that is only slightly different from the level before, it just all becomes too much like hard work. This oneís to be recommended to the hardcore puzzle fans only.
With multiple user profile support, family friendly content and superb presentation, Heavy Hogur is a game that is let down by unnecessarily slow and tedious game progress, lack of any meta-game goals or storyline and a limited appeal to established puzzle gamers only.
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