I know that I'm repeating myself here, but I need to make it clear that I'm a big fan of Puzzle Quest. The first game that I ever played that hooked me into playing a match-3 game for hours (should I admit to days?) on end. Sure the match-3 mechanic was there, front and centre, but the overlying RPG elements and the way that character build and strategy tied into the puzzle based gameplay was superb. Needless to say, whenever I see a game with match-3 elements, and a main character sporting a claymore or a bow, I'm going to start drawing comparisons to the great Puzzle Quest.
In the case of Herofy, this comparison was a bit unflattering at first. Since the games are not really similar at all it's also a bit unfair to do that. Besides, whatever it was going to be, it was never going to be my beloved Puzzle Quest. But now after 50 levels or so, Herofy is growing on me slowly, and I have to say that I'm enjoying it more than I initially thought I would.
Take your standard match-3 gameboard and fill it up with gems, skulls, coins and the like. Next take the player character and place them on the board too. The goal of each level is to firstly, unlock the padlocked door, and then to move the player character there to exit the level. The player cannot really control their character directly, but needs to manipulate the environment by making matches. The hero (or heroine) cannot contravene the law of gravity, but the entire board can be rotated at 90 degree intervals through a full 360 degrees. This can be done as necessary and as often as desired. There are two types of levels. On some, all purple cells need to be cleared before the gate will unlock. You can clear a cell by making a match with any symbol on it. Some others require keys to be retrieved from chests scattered around the level for the exit to unlock. A few levels feature monsters like goblins and skeletons that can drain a player's energy but never kill them directly when they end a move adjacent to the player. If a character ends its move directly above the monster then it's killed and the hero drops down into the monster's cell.
At the end of every few levels the player has a chance to visit the shop and select from a variety of powerups that allow such abilities as shuffling the board, wiping out entire rows of tiles, or even remotely unlocking the door. There are four tiers of powerups, and only one from each tier can be used in any one level, though there's no great deal of strategy in choosing which one for which level. It more comes down to a simple matter of personal choice. Powerups are activated with energy that charges up as the player makes matches. Once a powerup is bought, it is reusable throughout the entire game.
The first few levels are a bit dull, but as you progress into the game a little more, some of the oddly shaped boards will give the player a bit of a headache. Without the use of powerups, the game can get quite challenging. There are no difficulty settings but there is an option at character creation that allows players to battle without the pressure of a level timer, essentially turning the game into a sandbox experience. Every few levels cleared, the player is also rewarded with a trinket that is used to decorate the interior of their cottage. Though there are no practical uses for any of them, it's still a nice feature to see the cottage over time become decorated with such items of impeccable taste as bear rugs, orc's heads and bottles of the finest rum in the land.
The music is stock standard for this type of casual game, and it does get quite repetitive over an hour or two. The sound effects are disappointing as well. The sound played when a match is made is reminiscent of a bug getting squished and doesn't really suit at all. The game has a cartoon style that works quite well; tiles animate and slide smoothly. There are some simple effects and the screens are colourful and attractive. Different blocks are easily discerned from one another on all game boards. The presentation is a bit bland, but at least the game scales out to a fullscreen mode despite running at a fairly low resolution.
The game can be played using the mouse alone. The controls are intuitive and clearing blocks can be accomplished by using both the click and drag or the double click method as desired. It's a simple game that is easily understood, but even still there's a helpful tutorial that lasts for the first 3 or 4 levels that will explain all to newcomers to the genre.
It's quite a relaxing game to play; seldom does the player feel unduly rushed or frustrated. Some of the best gameplay moments occur when chests and monsters fill the screen and the player has to carefully evaluate the best course of action rather than just mindlessly making matches. I don't think the true potential of this sort of gameplay has been fully explored in this title, and with a few more RPG elements and a bit more variety in items, mobs and loot there could be a truly great game here. The game is on the verge of being really absorbing, but disappoints with a lack of variety and absence of any really meaningful strategy elements. As it stands at the moment, Herofy is definitely more match-3 than RPG.
As of publication of this review, the developers; ApGames are offering their previous title Caelum (a good Peggle style game) for the price of a Tweet. Grab the demo of Herofy as well and see if you like it. Both games are priced very aggressively anyway, so you won't break the bank forking out for either of them.
Keywords: herofy review, apgames reviews, apgames games, herofy scores, pc game reviews, indie game reviews, independent gaming.