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Hammerwatch (Windows)

Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (40955)
Written on  :  Jan 20, 2017
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars4.17 Stars
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The modern day Gauntlet

The Good

Hammerwatch was published and developed by Crackshell, a newcomer to the indie scene, although you wouldn't know about that when you first boot up the game. There is no company logo staring at your face for two seconds, nor is there one on the main menu that appears immediately. When I first looked at screenshots for the game, I thought of Gauntlet straight away. In fact, Crackshell took the popular Atari game and expanded upon it.

In the game, you play one of several characters including an Elf, Wizard, Paladin, Thief, and Priest; each of them having different abilities and setbacks. I don't know the plot around this, but you need to walk through the different areas of Castle Hammerwatch and activate the three runes that open the gateway to the next area. You can use the map to find you way around, but this obscures your view, so you need to use it wisely while you are walking around. I already made the mistake of walking into traps and losing one of my lives. Treasure can be collected and can be used to upgrade your abilities at certain vendors.

Stopping you from doing this are various types of monsters who also have their own unique abilities. They are often found in groups, and can throw projectiles at you. Having said that, you need to be observant so to avoid letting your health drained by monsters or any other hazards you come across. More often than not, they will come out of their hideouts and start chasing you, and there are more hideouts nearby. A good strategy I came up with is to keep going around the hideout until there is at least ten of them, and blast them until I have a “Combo Nova” power-up, and use that to wipe out the rest of the hideouts.

Some of the enemies have excellent artificial intelligence. The first ones you encounter home in on your location, not being careful not to fall into traps such as spears and turrets, and they end up getting killed. Later enemies such as sorcerers and bowmen, on the other hand, know better not to do that and will often stand near the traps, not on them.

Once you have completed an area, you have to defeat a boss before proceeding to the next one. The bosses have their own attack pattern, and get difficult the further you progress. To me, the most memorable boss is the first boss, the overgrown maggot that spawns the small maggots you first encounter in the prison.

If there is one set of visuals that I found appealing, it has to be those found in the chambers. I literally stopped for a moment just to admire every piece of art around me. The soundtrack is unique to each of the four acts, and each piece sounds excellent, especially the first act's.

Hammerwatch is worth replaying even if you completed the game once or twice, not only to discover any secrets you may have missed previously, but to play the game as a different character. As far as I know, you don't get the ending if you fail to collect every plank in the game.

If you have completed the game and still can't get enough, you can do other useful things such as hosting or joining a co-op multiplayer game, creating your own levels, or playing those made from other players. Also, you can get an extra episode called Temple of the Sun where you need to defeat Sha'Rand, the sun guardian. I only played this briefly, but it looks like more of an adventure game, rather than a hack 'n' slash.

The Bad

Nothing wrong with this game at all.

The Bottom Line

Hammerwatch is a very good indie game that is influenced by the classic dungeon crawler, Gauntlet. It adds more characters, upgrades to these characters, multiplayer options, tons of secrets, and a terrific soundtrack. If you have played Atari's classic arcade game in the past and love going around in a maze full of monsters trying to figure out what to do, then Hammerwatch is for you.