Heroes of a Broken Land starts with a simple premise: you are one of a council of mages that used to rule the world, using the worlds crystal heart to bring in an age of peace and prosperity. Unfortunately while the council were good leaders, they weren't perfect. They're personal flaws corrupted the heart, causing the world to explode, reducing it to a series of floating shards. As the only surviving wizard on said council, your job is to restore the world one shard at a time, using the people living on each shard to raise an army of heroes to help you. It's a simple set up that works an an excuse for the game play.
|The game starts with a long intro cutscene.|
The overworld is also full of dungeons, which is where most of the action takes place. Dungeons take place in a first person perspective and actually work a lot like in many old DOS RPGs, with grid based movement and a fixed, forward perspective. The dungeons, like the overword are randomly generated, with the type of dungeon having some effect on it's layout. For example Labyrinths consist entirely of twisting passageways with no rooms, while towers are several stories tall, with each floor somewhat smaller than your typical dungeon. Some dungeons can even require two more more parties to complete, with each party having it's own section to explore, including switches to open the way in another parties section.
Enemies aren't randomly uncounted, but can be seen roaming the dungeon. You get a bonus in combat if you can flank or get behind them, though given the layout of most dungeons, it's unlikely you'll be able do this if a group isn't already facing away from you. Combat in the game is turn based and fairly straightforward, with each character able to chose wither to attack, use an ability or use an item. Interesting however, is that targeting in the game is automatic. you don't get to pick who each character attacks. Instead characters attack according ot what side their on, left attacks left, right attacks right and the the front row has to be defeated before you can strike at the back. Some abilities can mess with this, targeting the entire group or a random enemy. It has an interesting effect on party formation, as you'll want to make sure you haven't put all of your heavy hitters on one side. Interestingly, the AI seems to follow roughly the same rules, Though they can target any row they like.
|Combat is turn based with enemy targeting handled for you.|
There's also special structures that can appear on the overworld these structures can teach heroes new abilities for a price, including ones they can't access normally. In the game I played I had a colosseum near my main town, allowing me to spend gold to increase my heroes HP and defense I also had schools of fire and earth nearby, allowing me to promote mages into sorcorers, as well as teaching anyone I want fire or earth spells, This allowed me to not only teach my mages spells they might have missed in favor of picking different spells, but if I had the gold I could teach them spells before they'd normally learn them. Finally, you can eventually have up to six parties of six heroes each to manage, and you'll have to consider which parties should be exploring and which should tackle what dungeon or group of monsters.
Finally, the game comes with a good number of options, not only can you pick the size of the game world, from a tiny world you can complete in a few hours to massive worlds that would take weeks to handle, but there's separate difficulty sliders for various parts of the game, from how much gold you can find, to how many monsters wander the overworld at any given time, giving you a lot of flexibility in setting up the kind of challenge you'd like to face. Though for those who'd rather not tweak things that much, there's still several preset difficulty levels.
|when not managing towns or exploring dungeons, you'll spend time exploring the overworld.|
Sound and music is also a mixed bag. What sound the game has gets the job done, but there's only a handful of sounds, mostly used in combat. The game tends to be very quiet when your not fighting, save for the music. The music meanwhile is actually really good, consisting entirely of piano pieces which are honestly nice to listen too. The only problem is that while the soundtrack is good, there's only about three songs and this is a game that you could readily be playing for hours. You'll be hearing the same music a lot while playing the game, and this lack of variety means you may find yourself quickly growing bored of it.
|Each town only has so many slots to place buildings in, choose wisely.|
A bigger problem would be managing your heroes. You can have up to 6 parties of 6 heroes, That's 36 heroes to outfit. While the game cuts you some slack in this manner; inventory is shared across all heroes and you don't need them to be at a town to buy potions and equipment. There's no easy way to see what equipment is best for who or a breakdown of everyone's status or who you've been teaching what skills. If you want to change everyone's equipment or check skills and status, you'll need to check it group by group and hero by hero, which can get tedious once you start growing past your second party. To the game's credit, there's at least a town screen so you an see how many slots a town has, how much gold their pulling in and what buildings they have.
To be fair though, this is a massive game made almost entirely by one person. The only help he had was a world and character artist and a monster designer, listed on the game's credits page. it's honestly impressive a game this big was made by that small a team, and without any sort of kickstarter or crowd funding I'm aware of. So while those problems exist and are annoying, it's kind of understandable. That said the game has seen some extra development post-launch, with new content added and some bugs fixed, so if we're lucky one day they'll have a chance to fix this stuff. As it currently stands? This is an RPG with oldschool influences that makes great uses of procedural content. If you like the idea of exploring a random world, saving towns and fighting monsters while managing an army of heroes, this is definitely a game worth checking out.
Heroes of a Broken Land developed and published by Winged Pixel Inc. It is available on Steam, Desura and Gamersgate. It's homepage, which includes a demo is available here.