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Heroes & Legends: Conquerors of Kolhar is an RPG that came out of nowhere and at first glance reminded me of similar games that I’ve really enjoyed before. That’s about as far as it went though because Heroes & Legends had a bit more meat on its bones than meets the eye. It’s a mix of strategy and tactics, timing, RPG related bits like leveling and crafting, with an easy to follow and enjoyable story.
So there you are sent off by the queen on a quest to get this artifact that will end the coming cataclysm. That’s all well and good since no one really wants a cataclysm to happen anyway. Your starting party consists of an overzealous paladin named Allen, a grumpy mage named Benedict and a fighter who likes to stab things with sharp-pointed objects named Yaha. It’s a fun combination of personalities that merge well knowing the gravity of their quest. Later you meet a rogue-ish bard named Tysha whose personality was interesting, but ultimately forgettable. Lastly there’s a ranged-rogue Grenk named Jomon who joins you with guns and I like guns. I won’t tell you what’s up with him due to spoilers.
I wanted to like most of the characters, but I had to drop Yaha due to poor DPS and Allen (even with his healing) couldn’t pull his weight. (Jeez, I sound like an elitist WoW guild.) In combat, there are time bars below your character’s health and when it fills up you (or the bad guys) attack. You also have additional special moves you can use when they are off cooldown. Even with picking mostly offensive stats when my characters leveled up, Yaha was lackluster and would have benefited from dual wielding sword-chucks (who wouldn’t be, even if they are hard to hold), but there isn’t any of that in Heroes & Legends, just a weapon in one hand and a shield in the others. Allen and his heal bomb was replaced when Benedict, Tysha and Jomon who all had a decent heal ability.
The combat was pretty interesting as well. First off you choose three of the five teammates, but then you have to pick the moves that would not only help you deal damage, but they’d have to benefit the party as well. You get a mixture of buffs, debuffs, stuns and other sorts of damage moves or evasive maneuvers. The heals were always nice to have and Tysha’s heal and damage buff was a no brainer; she needed to come along and jump into the action. You also get to move your characters around by swapping spots if you don’t want a certain person taking another hit (or getting exp for that bad guy dying). Then problem arrives when you realize that every fight is an endurance test with quite a few rounds that you had to survive in order to progress. At first what was interesting became tedious and that wasn’t even halfway through the campaign.
Combat is waiting game in Heroes & Legends. You’re either waiting for the bar to fill up or for a move to come off of cooldown. It’s neat, but not super engaging. Since you moves didn’t come off of cooldown if your character wasn’t in front of an enemy, you would sometimes hesitate on using a move since you may have to wait for longer than the cooldown actually lists. It’s a catch-22. One could say that it’s just more tactical and you have to plan accordingly, but it just didn’t really feel like that.
Crafting is where this game almost shines the most. Items drop in fights and you can equip them in mid battle. At the end of the fight you’re left with the five remaining items on the “loot bar” (good enough name right?) to either equip or recycle for parts. You can then trade up if you have too much of one lesser crafting ingredient and not enough of another that’s a single tier up (ten for one, it’s a bum deal, but one for the impatient player like myself). What needed to happen here was to add another ingredient that would add some random status buff to the weapon. Too many times have I created a weapon only to have the same tier item drop in the next fight but with an attack buff on it. If an item your recycling has a stat bonus on it, there should be a chance to receive that back as well. The armor was the only thing that felt completely worth it. It had some combination of defense, attack, evasion or what-have-you that would usually go along with whatever playstyle you favored for that character. As a bonus, it also changed the aesthetics of the character too.
The story was well told until the end. The characters had changed and developed a bit and they even fleshed out some NPC’s. The problem is that the story is more epic in scope than is allowed here within the time frame it takes to finish the game. Heroes & Legends is set up as that epic game, but is not long enough. As such, some questions I had on why things went one way or why a character chose thus were left unanswered. The ending, while fitting, felt squished while still being complete. I knew “how” the story ended, but not completely the “why”. One of the main characters goes off on some grand plan for the aftermath of it all and how things will change and that felt like it came out of left field. I just remember reading it and thinking to myself, “Where in the crap is this line of thought coming from all of a sudden?” At the same time, they developed the story well enough that if fit the character’s profile, just not the situation and timing without much of the setup.
While it may have seemed like a lot of complaining, I don’t feel my time was wasted here. There were some wasted opportunities here that would have made a fairly decent difference in the enjoyment factor, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t enjoyable. I just wish the game was larger in scope. Shorten the fights and give use more of them with more of the story spread out. The writing was enjoyable up until the ending where while you can see what was said coming from who said it, it didn’t seem to fit with how you got there. There’s not much to the main campaign, but it’ll make you want to finish it. You can then replay the levels you want to level up more and max out on gear and the like after completing the campaign if you so choose. There is even a list of challenges that give you specific characters with specified move-sets that can prove quite difficult and that’s fun too. I just wanted more and like I’ve said before,