I used to spend many hours playing free flash games from online sites like Kongregate, Armor Games, and Newgrounds. The budding indie companies there provided some awesome experiences through those channels, and it’s a great place to get your name on the internet as a game developer. However, now it seems like Steam Greenlight is where a lot of those up-and-coming folks are headed, and Cuve Games’ Heroes & Legends: Conquerors of Kolhar is an example of a game that might just want to stick to the Flash Sites. It’s not that Heroes & Legends isn’t entertaining, it just feels a lot more like an experiment in game design than a game fleshed out enough to be worthy of a $10 price point, especially when compared to its competition on the Steam marketplace.
Conquerors of Kolhar is an RPG strictly in the traditional combat sense. The story mode is a world map with fifteen battles preceded by talking head exposition. Each battle consists of ten to twenty waves of one to three monsters at a time with the parties arrayed against each other in a familiar face-to-face system. The gimmick of the game is that everything is on auto-battle with the exception of your cooldown skills. Both the enemy and player teams each have timer bars which fill up until they do a basic attack based on the weapon they have equipped. Your characters only attack the target directly in front of them, but you can rearrange your party’s formation at any time during the combat.
After every wave, you get an item, either equipment or some kind of potion, which you can equip or use to change the course of battle. You also level up instantly in combat and can choose your stat upgrade immediately. The system feels frantic at first since there’s no way to pause the game and think about strategy, but since every individual action you can take is based on a long cooldown, your ability to alter the events are spaced out enough to prevent it from becoming overwhelming.
It’s a good system, and a lot of fun. Outside of combat there is also a crafting system where you can break down items you don’t want into materials to make different weapons or armor upgrades. Between that and having five characters with ten abilities each to choose from, the game gives you plenty of room to setup your party how you like it to dominate the enemy.
And that’s the entire game explained in two paragraphs. The story mode is less than three hours long, and “Story” is probably too strong a word to describe the mode. The characters all have superficial personalities and each talking section is basically just setting up another excuse to commit mass genocide on some village of unsuspecting monsters. The cliché plot could be excusable if there was any kind of character or setting development worth spending your time on, but there’s not. In fact, the story presentation itself is done in the most lazy and boring manner possible, with dialog being spout off by the same character portraits for each speaker – no emoting – and this going back and forth until they come up with a reason to fight. The game might have been better off skipping the formalities and cutting to the chase. There are events that pop up every time you first view the map screen, but these are just random nonsense ways to get extra materials or, if you’re unlucky, lose a good portion of your leveling progress. The story is a lost opportunity the game could have used to set itself apart from being just a presentation of its own mechanics.
Once you’ve finished the story mode the game also has twelve challenge modes, but they don’t use any sort of RPG progression like the story campaign, so there’s no opportunity for customization.
Overall, Heroes & Legends: Conquerors of Kolhor feels like a demo even with its full release. I like the combat system, and I think it would have been fantastic if it were put in a game with a larger scope. As-is, it’s a fun diversion comparable to the many free internet game options that have been available for years. It’s not worth $10, but I’d recommend it if it ever dropped to $1 and you’re only looking to kill an afternoon.