App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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As of this writing, SpellForce - Heroes & Magic is broken. It’s playable, but there are tons of issues that range everywhere between mildly annoying and literally game-breaking. I have to imagine that some point in the near future, SpellForce will get the treatment it needs to be a functional experience, but even then, I’m not sure it’ll be worth your time.
SpellForce - Heroes & Magic is a turn-based strategy game built from the mold of the classic Heroes of and Might and Magic PC games. In it, you control a hero character charged with building out their own kingdom and destroying all of your enemies in the process.
The action of SpellForce all takes place on an overworld map that is divided up into hexagonal spaces that you view from a top-down angle, similar to 4X games like Civilization. Unlike those games though, SpellForce doesn’t feature any trading or diplomacy. The entire game is about capturing assets and resources to ensure you can build an army capable of defeating your foes.
Whenever a conflict in SpellForce arises, the game changes from an overview of the world map to a small-scale battlefield where individual units in armies can fight to the death. These battlefields are divided into hexagonal spaces just like the rest of the game, but the gameplay switches focus from strategic conquest to tactical combat.
The forces you have at your disposal in combat depend heavily on which of the three races you choose to play as (Human, Orc, or Dark Elf). Ultimately though, the nuances between the races don’t really feel very distinct, as SpellForce’s combat system lacks depth and nuance. In just a short time with the game, I developed a very effective method for winning battles that I never once had to change for any reason during the rest of my time with it.
Flat combat is a huge pitfall for strategy games, but somehow that manages to be the least of SpellForce’s problems. The game is paced extremely slowly with no options to speed up or skip anything, it has a menu system that is clunky and confusing, and—worst of all—it is loaded with tons of technical issues.
There were times when playing SpellForce when I couldn’t reposition units without tapping the screen repeatedly in random areas, combat encounters wouldn’t initiate unless I force quit the app and restarted it, and a glitch that prevented me from loading a game that I had already started. These problems make SpellForce incredibly frustrating to play, though to be honest I don’t think the game would feel much better if they weren’t there. All around the game is kind of flat. The bugs just make it flat and annoying.
The bottom line
There are moments where you can see what SpellForce is going for, but none of it ever really comes together. The game’s glacial pace, simple combat, and all-around brokenness make it so you can’t enjoy any part of it without fighting through some kind of poor design choice or functional problem.