App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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I have something of a love/hate relationship with castle defense games. I enjoy the leveling, wide range of unit types, special abilities, and oftentimes the visual style. On the other hand, I’m not much of a fan of the typical inability to replay beaten stages to grind experience or money, the quickly-ramping difficulties, or the somewhat overly-simple strategic elements. Moleheart doesn’t turn me off to the genre for good, but it also hasn’t made me a true believer.
Like any game with the word “mole” in the title, Moleheart is about diminutive burrowing mammals. Although in this particular case it’s more like diminutive burrowing mammals with some severe family issues and legions of Underworld minions. Players can directly control (more or less as he attacks automatically) Prince William by tapping either side of the screen to move in a given direction, as well as tapping other on-screen buttons to activate special abilities such as lightning. Various unlocked and upgradeable units (knights, archers, etc) can be summoned by pressing the corresponding icon, assuming there are enough crystals saved up to cover the cost, and will proceed single-mindedly toward their goal. Viciously attacking any enemies that get in their way, of course.
While I can appreciate the added layer of challenge, I’ve never been fond of games like this which make use of multiple lanes. Fortunately Moleheart does no such thing. All units, friendly or not, progress along the same path. They might appear on slightly different planes in order to avoid creating an ugly mess of mole bodies, but they’ll fight each other just the same no matter how great the lateral distance between them. This frees up more thinking power to spend on positioning William (not too close to become a target, but close enough to attack) as well as planning future waves. Acts that become all the more interesting once things start to progress further when new units and abilities start to open up.
Moleheart still suffers from the one mechanic typical of the genre that continues to bug me; there’s no option to replay levels. Failing a level will still earn cash that can be used to upgrade various things, but it can be really frustrating to be forced to attempt the same stage over and over again. Each time without success. Just to grind up to a point where I can finally force my way through the enemy hordes and smash that statue at the other end.
As I’ve said, Moleheart probably won’t turn non-believers or dabblers into enthusiasts, but it will doubtlessly please fans of the genre. Plus there’s moles. Moles and necromancy. If nothing else it wins major Silly Points.