Few days ago I was asked to review a game by a fellow user of Game Maker forums. I was highly reluctant, as I find most mobile games to be flawed, incomplete and filled with uncreative solutions, and I'm aware of the fact that Game Maker isn't really friendly to inputs outside of touching the screen, limiting design space even further. Yet, I decided to give it a try, having in mind there's a low chance I'm missing something great.
I was so happily mistaken!
Weave of Heroes is hard to assign to a certain genre. I'd call it a plot driven puzzle, nearly strategy game, having a strong element of deckbuilding, known from Collectible Card Games.
It's design is brilliant in it's tightness and variety!
The plot is about a genderless, young character doing dangerous quests here and there to find it's sister and rescue her. It isn't defenseless though.
The fighting system is a true gem here. The core idea is based on Rock Paper Scissors, but here they are called Rock, Leaf and Blade. Like in the base game, the rivals reveal their choice at once, and then there's a draw or one of them clearly wins the trade. In Weave of Heroes, in the case of draw, both attacks happen, but if one element tops the other, only it's damage and effects are done. Yes, I wrote effects. That's because every element has a variety of attacks, every one of them being unique compared to others. The player decides which ones he or she uses before the mission begins.
While in combat, the player can pick one of three slots, one slot can contain one attack, randomly picked from the ones the player decided to use. This means, you can roll, for example, three rock type attacks. Once the slot is used, it's emptied leaving the player with less options. The player can anytime fill all three slots with new random moves with a refill button, losing a turn on doing nothing.
The enemies overally use the same mechanics, reloading included, but the number of their slots vary along with their game altering mechanics. The game operates on open information, meaning that both players see each other's slots, which gives loads of fun, strategic depth.
What differentiates the player from the others is a gift of Weave. It's a special power which automatically counters anything the enemy plays, deals damage, heals you and sometimes refills a slot. Everything in one turn! How to activate it? You have to accumulate five charges, every one of them is obtained by executing a normal attack.
Now, where's your promised deckbuilding? Here it comes:
Before every quest, which is made of several random encounters, the player gets to choose the attacks and add them to the repertoir of the character. But the choice isn't restricted to one attack per element, in fact the player is bound to have at least four different moves, which implies one can't just pick three most optimal ones. If you think with numbers you may have noticed that this brings imbalance in draw rates - one element will be always twice as frequent as any of the other. This is where piles come in play - every attack can be piled up to three times, every instance increasing it's ingame drop rate. For example, if you want the elements to have equal 33% drop rate, you can add 2 different attacks of one element, and then a two units high pile for every other element.
This way the game is about optimizing the drop rates and synergies of the moves, and them utilizing it in strategic way. Doesn't it remind you of card games yet?
The game does a great work at bringing the opportunity to rethink your resources time after time, making you wonder if your preffered set of abilities can be improved, and it felt great. The design of the attacks and enemies seems to squeeze every last bit of the possible design for this set of mechanics, which is really satisfying to see for me as a designer.
Now, the art talk. The music was fitting and not repetitive, which is great. The visual art style isn't the greatest for me, but there's consequence kept in it, which I always value. Also it reminded me of good old Flash games which once upon a time ruled upon the imagination of countless player.
You can say it gave me Flashbacks.
Laugh, it's funny!
The story was thick as water, with little chunks of absurd here and there, but this isn't really an issue, as this game is like porn - you don't come for the story, but it's good it's there.
The game has little to no issues for me, the one I've remembered is that the refresh button is easy to miss on smaller screens, which can lead to nasty situations and Player's frustration.
The thing I really liked were the achievements. They usually annoy me, but these ones were funny and creative in many cases, keeping me amused.
It's a solid piece of mobile game to pick up, which is a rare statement in my case. The game clearly knows what is it about and sticks to it.
Try it out, it's free!
See Ya nerdz!