Developer: Four Thirty Three
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

So the whole “save the world” thing is vastly overplayed in RPGs these days, but not many of these anti-apocalypse tropes involve playing nursemaid to a bunch of dragons. It’s different if nothing else. Bravo, EpicHearts.

Players select one of three heroes (warrior, gunner, shadow fencer), then get tossed into a bizarre plot riddled with horrible text orientation (see screens) and a handful of localization errors (“calm crap?”). The story gives characters a reason to move from location to location, but as with most iOS action RPGs the real emphasis is on the action. Action that can vary greatly depending on which playable character is chosen. The warrior is fairly typical of the class with greater importance given to strength and health. The gunner is much like the Ranger found in most fantasy settings without gunpowder; not much defense but she deals plenty of damage from a distance. Finally there’s the Shadow Fencer, which is kind of like a thief class, only with more of a focus on magic. Plus he can turn into a werewolf.

The style and animations of all three protagonists – as well as pretty much every other character and enemy in the game, really – are handled beautifully. There’s plenty of nuance to the way each Chosen One fights, stylistically. EpicHearts is also a game with a lot to offer diligent players. There’s character progression, naturally, but also a whole host of other features to take advantage of or ignore (save a couple of quests that introduce the concepts) depending on personal preference. Of course as someone who tends to enjoy seeing as much of a game as I can, that means dabbling in everything from gathering resources on the field to use in item crafting to raising pet monsters on the ranch. Yes, that’s a thing.

My largest annoyance with EpicHearts turned out to be a moot point but I’ll mention it anyway as I probably won’t be the only person with this problem initially: the game moves too fast. That is to say, the whole thing from combat to cutscenes moves like a DOS game running on an over-clocked modern PC. Fortunately there’s an option in the menu to adjust the game speed (I set mine to one tick under halfway) that made a huge difference. Now things don’t look insane, but I do still have trouble getting the special skill buttons to register 100% of the time. But at least it isn’t running like a coked-up Speedy Gonzales anymore.

I was honestly surprised by how much I’ve been enjoying EpicHearts. I was expecting more of a Me, Too vibe but it goes to great lengths to offer up more options than most of the average iOS ARPGs. It might take a little adjustment to get things running smoothly, but it’s totally worth a look.


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