Hero Academy for iOS – my number one tip this week

So I promised you that I’ll only review fun, interesting and under the radar games rather than the obvious big names out there and today I’ve got a real treat for you. It’s an iOS app from Robot Entertainment (the indie dev team behind Orcs Must Die) called Hero Academy.

Hero Academy is a turn-based, multiplayer, strategy game available for free in the App Store. With the added whimsy that this is a training programme for the Heroes rather than an out and out battle, it gives it a nice friendly twist to the game.

Challenge a friend (by searching for a username or Facebook) or an anonymous foe to a one-on-one battle much in the same way you would play Words With Friends (not the analogy I would go for but seems to be the most widely known example) and watch as your teams do battle on the field “killing your enemies” and defending your crystals. Play an intense 20-minute game or play leisurely over the day and build your tactics to become unstoppable.

Each player’s turn consists of five actions that can be anything from bringing out a new character, casting a spell, attacking a crystal and everything in between. You are given a selection of six items on the bottom bar that you can use to for your actions. This bar is then randomly refilled in accordance to how many you use and the total amount you have – denoted by a number below the door on the left. Your goal is to either destroy the crystals or kill all the members of the opposing team so pick your goal and off you play. Or you can do what I do and play with blind panic and no forethought… it’s just as much fun.

The actual gameplay is simple enough for pick-up and play casual gamers with the scope to build your ideal game plan with practice. And you will find that everyone plays it differently giving it an extra boost of fun.

Your basic team has five members and each has a special skill or strength that you will learn to utilise the more you play and if you want a slight advantage against your opponent, a secondary team of Dark Elves is available via an in app purchase (£0.69 or $1). The store shows that there’s a third team coming and seeing as I’ve just made my first virtual purchase due to this game (I know right?) I am quite looking forward to it.

A big thing for me was the aesthetics. The art style is cute and colourful making it a visual delight. The battlefield is a grid map with one or two crystals for each of you to destroy and defend giving you a clear visual goal without even reading any instructions or a tutorial. There are extra powerups on the grid with distinct symbols that are pretty self explanatory despite their tiny size. When each boost is activated the visual effect can be seen immediately, another little detail Robot Entertainments team’s got just right.

This game is ridiculously popular with the indie dev crowd at the moment and it’s expanding. The main problem I have found with the game (which will get worse with more players) is that the server doesn’t connect about 40% of the time. For the less determined player or the easily distracted, this may be enough to stop you from playing but for me it just made me more anxious to get in and play.

This game is really addictive. I downloaded it on Saturday and I’ve already played six games against my boyfriend. This, however, does show another downside to the game as there isn’t a single player option. I’m sure that in a week or so there will be more players to pair up with but if you just want a quick game or practice it’s a bit hard seeing as you never know when your opponent will take their turn.

I love the game and like all iOS games it will be updated and cleaned up and have problems ironed out. I’m even sure they’ll sort out the server problem sooner rather than later. So give it a go. It’s a free app, there are plenty of people out there playing already and if you do like it, purchase the extra character pack… £0.69 to a great studio? Can’t complain with that.

If you do download and want a battle buddy, I’m woshixiongmao – come and find me.

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