Review: Hero Academy (iOS)

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Hero Academy was developed by Robot Entertainment, makers of last year's Orcs Must Die.

At this point in iOS’s lifespan, it is obvious that asynchronous multiplier is the ideal way to play a lot of mobile games. This type of competitive play allowing one person to complete a turn and then await the next move from their opponent has been led to the widespread success of games like Words with Friends and, more recently, Draw Something. While these games do certainly have their own appeal, they tend to be adaptations of classic board games and other “casual” fare. That’s why I was stoked when I came across Hero Academy, a game that embraces the asynchronous multiplayer of the titles previously mentioned and blends it with a classic, turn-based strategy game featuring humans, dark elves and steampunk dwarves.

Gameplay will be familiar to many video game veterans, although it will take a few matches to get the feel and balance for each army’s units. Players get five actions per turn that can be spent on spawning units along two preset points along their side of the map, equipping weapons and items to their units, using magic on enemy troops, moving units and attacking. Each map features one or two crystals for each team. The game is won when the other team’s crystal or entire army has been defeated.

Each army features a priest/healer type unit, a basic soldier, an archer/ranged unit, a supporter, and a superunit. All three of the currently available armies utilize very different play styles. “The Alliance” or humans are more focused on individual combat, especially at range. The dark elves tend to be more about attrition and absorbing or transforming enemy unites. The dwarves have a wide array of area-of-effect attacks including a bomber and their superunit that can be equipped with a gold-lined rocket launcher that is best used when put towards large groups of enemies or crystals.

The Dwarf army (left) utilizes some heavy AoE attacks while The Alliance (right) has deadly archers and versatile priests.

The game looks and runs wonderfully on my iPhone 4S. It’s unique and endearing art style really comes to life on the wonderful retina display.

The only thing the game sadly lacks at the moment is a fully-fledged iPad version (although one is in the works) and more in-depth stat tracking which would be fun to compare with friends after you’ve played a large number of games like I have. In fact, I haven’t been able to find a way to check anything at all, even a simple win-loss ratio.

With the newly added Dwarf army, a third-generation iPad Retina version on the way and more maps and armies on the way, the future is bright for Hero Academy. For the total price of free (for access to the Alliance army), there is little reason not to check this one out. If you are a fan of turn-based strategies akin to Fire Emblem, Advance Wars and similiar game series than you will love Hero Academy. When you pick it up, send me a game invite at SirDesmond and I’ll see you on the battlefield.

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