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Written by  :  Anh Ngo Hai (2217)
Written on  :  Dec 16, 2010
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars

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Flawed and not quite original, but still enjoyable

The Good

The game starts out different from most RPG games I've played. The heroine is not a novice (according to the story, of course, in game your character IS weak); she is not introduced to the player oversleeping, unconscious or having weird dreams; she is not lost or amnesiac. She knows exactly what she has to do, which involves a sword, the God Slayer. Now this is not very original. How many medieval / fantasy RPGs don't involve a sword in its plot? However in Heretic Kingdom, the main character doesn't seek the sword for its power, but because it should be destroyed. Within 5 minutes into the game, you know what you have to do; the game is straight forward, and that is good.

The gameplay is quite enjoyable. The "Attunement" feature - skills, spells or abilities are not learned when you level up, but are hidden in weapons, armors and unlocked after you have used them - is not original (I know at least one game, Final Fantasy 9, has this feature, with a different name) but still fun as it allows customizing your character and can potentially improve the game's replay value . All in all, the difficulty was moderate, and I didn't find any part in the game particularly frustrating or annoying.

Another note worthy feature is the ability to go into and out of a parallel world. It is already covered in the other review, so I won't repeat it here. However, the only good thing I can say is that it's promising. Yes, promising, and nothing more. I'll explain in the "Bad" section.

The Bad

The parallel world feature is a great promise that the game made but, unfortunately, was not able to keep. At the very beginning my character saw a mutilated body in the 'real' world, and switching to the other world let her see a ghost in its place, seemingly incapable of moving on. The ghost gave my character instructions on how to finish the current quest (which can only be done in this 'other world'). As I finished this quest I started to imagine quite a few possibilities that this 'ghost talking' ability can imply. Sadly, this is the only time the heroine can talk to anyone in this parallel world; in the rest of the game, it is reduced to a place to just kill more things and evade enemies in the real world. A result of a hasty release, I presume.

I did say the Attunement feature can "potentially improve replayability", but how it is handled virtually destroyed that potential. You gain Attunement by using a particular weapon to kill, yes, but you can also gain it by just HOLDING the weapon and absorb the essence left behind by killed ghosts. And there are more ghosts than you need to attune yourself to every weapon you find in a single play through. Another minor problem is that you can only switch attunements when resting, but there seems to be a limit on how often you can rest, which is rather inconvenient.

I also find a 'slight' imbalance between characters, and between character progression and the difficulty. About two third of the game, as my archer improved the firing rate to inhuman levels, acquired the "Stun" ability which, guess what, stunned any enemy hit by my arrows, VERY few enemies (those would be the rare ones immune to the effect) could get close to my character before dying. And the final boss is, sadly, not immune to this effect. And I didn't even enter the bonus area which might as well be named "Level Grinding Place".

The Bottom Line

Heretic Kingdom is one of the games that held my attention and enjoyment long enough to finish it. It was almost bug-free (at least my copy was) and no part of it were particularly bad. If only the developers had more time to polish this flawed gem ...