Hero Academy by Robot Entertainment first released on IOS early this year. I played a lot of it during spring semester, as it was perfect for the few minutes I would have while waiting for class to start. After the semester finished up I didn’t really play it much, or keep up with it as I did not always have those free times where I could check on my games, and I wasn’t always able to be on wi-fi. But now the game not only has been updated, quite a bit, it is now also available through Steam. But is it worth picking up?
First, the Steam version of the game is $5. The IOS version is still free, and supported by ads, but the Steam version has no ads in it. You also get a new Team Fortress 2 team, which I will talk about more in detail later. The game is a two player, asynchronous battle, almost like chess combined with a board game. Each player has a team of characters with a range of classes, as well as different upgrades and special items they can employ. The goal of the game is to defeat the other player by either defeating their entire team, or by their crystals, of which each player has one to three, depending on the board. A turn consists of five action points with which the player can move his units, use their attacks/abilities, or give them/use different items he may have available. The great thing is, that you can also reset your actions points to undo a move, or series of moves before you submit your turn. This is nice not only because it allows you to try out multiple combinations of moves, it also allows you to correct mistakes where you tapped or clicked on the wrong square, unit, item, etc. This is where being able to use the mouse in the PC version is nice, because you can be much more precise with you selections.
Each team in the game has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The game originally released with only one team, the Council (with more teams added for purchase later on), which is a team of humans. They are great at healing and reviving fallen teammates, as well as leveling up damage and defense of their members. However, this can make them vulnerable to debuffs from the other teams that completely remove those upgrades, making them more vulnerable.
The Dark Elves are, as their name implies, Elves, and they tend to be good at weakening their enemies with debuffs and such, while also strengthening their own members by harvesting fallen enemies. However, I’ve found that if they are against a team that gets powered up quickly and stays on the offensive, they do tend to get a little put back on their heels and struggle.
The Dwarves tend to be big on things that go boom, and are great at dealing splash damage to their enemies. Thus, if you can get the opposing team bunched together they tend to dominate the field. They also have some units that buff their teams abilities, so keeping together can help. But if they get spread out they can get into trouble against enemies who can pick them off one by one.
The Tribe is a team of Orc type creatures, and they tend to operate best when working as a team. They have units who deal extra damage to enemies who are above 50% health, as well as ones who can instantly knock out an enemy who is below 50%, so tag-teaming those heroes works well. They also will gain increased damage if one of their team falls. But if you can keep clear, and keep well your team well healed, they can be overpowered with well placed ranged characters to hold them at bay, and tank type characters to soak up the damage.
The fifth team is the Team Fortress team. It contains all the classes from TF2, as well as some of the usable items, with each behaving in pretty much the same way as you would expect. Their main strength is that they are very adaptable, and great at pushing a fast attack. The team also will have more heroes than the others, so they can be a bit more expendable, and they also have abilities that take up no action points, so if strung toegether well you can have some monster turns. However, I’ve found they don’t tend to deal as much damage, and don’t always have as much health, so if you can slow or stall their push they don’t hold up as well in a straight up firefight.
When I fist played the game on iOS, my biggest complaint was that there was no offline mode of any sort, and there was very little in the way of a tutorial, so you kind of had to learn as you go. Now it has a very good tutorial that will walk you through the basics of gameplay, as well as seven challenges for each team. I especially like the challenges, as they allow you to try out some of the other teams besides so you can see if you would want to purchase it. I do hope that more are added over time, as you can go through them fairly quickly if you learn your units well. It is also really nice that you can play your games either on the computer, or you phone. However, the challenges and achievements do not appear to sync between PC and phone, so if you beat all the challenges on one you would still have to go through them again on the the other. The only other issue that I have run across is that the game tends to lock up on me when it is pulling up one of my games, but it has never crashed on me, and has then run fine once it gets the game.
Those couple of issues aside, this is a really fun game. I’ve always enjoyed Chess, and this gives me some of the same type of strategy as Chess, with elements from a D&D type game or a RPG. I’d highly recommend it, especially if you are someone who spends a lot of time at your computer during the day and want something to play when you take a quick break. It well deserves an excellent 8 out of 10.