I’ve always been a simple man when it comes to games – I’ll champion something that was done well, even if it is a simple, one-trick pony. I didn’t realise I was quite this simple though (others may have done though). You see, Warhammer Quest has been eating my time since I was passed it to review whilst Shadowrun: Dragonfall, Transistor and The Wolf Among Us all sit there unplayed. Not unloved or unwanted, mind you, I just can’t prise myself away from Warhammer Quest’s flimsy charms.
Warhammer Quest is based on an old board game of the same name and, like the board game, is basically a top-down dungeon crawler in which you take a party of four adventurers on various adventures in dungeons through three different Warhammer regions. You know the score: dungeons contain bad guys; heroes kill bad guys; heroes gain items, gold and experience. Use gold to purchase better equipment, use experience to level up and gain exciting new abilities. Rinse and repeat in more difficult dungeons for better rewards. Standard RPG fare that’s been the same since the Minoans invented role-playing.
It’s also a port of an iOS game so has been designed for touch-screen devices and this is blatantly obvious from the start. The controls are basic in the extreme – left click to do this, left click to do that. Oh, and the mouse wheel zooms in and out. Not that it needs anything else as this works perfectly.
As far as I can tell, there’s no overarching storyline. Your party turns up in various settlements and towns throughout the land and receives a ‘story-based’ quest, but these are specific to the town you receive them in and don’t seem to have any bearing on events in other parts of the world. Not that this is a bad thing – it simply reinforces the pickupandplayability (it’s a real word – look it up in the “Chopps’ English Dictionarium”), as you can ignore the game for days and then jump back in without having to remember what the heck is going on. Other than the story missions Warhammer Quest constantly opens up dungeons that reward you with a unique item that requires you to kill a particularly powerful enemy, or rescue some folk.
The meat of the game is obviously the adventuring and this boils down to you guiding your party through top-down, grid-based dungeons battling skaven, orcs, zombies, etc. The dungeons reveal themselves room-by-room as you work your way through (in keeping with the board game). Tactics come into play only in how you use your party – where you place the heroes (put the tank in the middle of the enemies, protect your magic users, etc.), and how you use your abilities. There isn’t a great deal of options available to you other than the aforementioned placement or abilities: you click on an adventurer, and then click on either a cell, enemy or ability.
And that’s pretty much it. The three different regions obviously contain different settlements and quests and vary in difficulty The settlements offer you some further distractions, such as different market places with a range of goods on offer, or temples where you can go and offer favours to the Gods who may bestow bonus effects on you for the duration of you next adventure. Or they may ignore you. They will ignore you.
There are also random events that happen – both whilst exploring the map and dungeons, and when mucking about in the settlements. These just tend to be pop-up boxes telling you that something has happened before giving you the effect of these events. There’s no real interaction with them but they do serve to add a bit of character.
So it’s all very simple – easy to pick up, easy to play, but unbelievably hard to put down. Everything just feels right and works as you’d expect it to. It’s quick – you can burn through a dungeon in less than 10 minutes, but there’s just enough depth in the character and game progression to keep you coming back again and again. Graphics and sound are all pretty basic, but you’d expect that given the game’s origins and this isn’t a game that would really benefit from bling – it’s so quick you’d miss all the glitter.
However – and this is a BIG however – the game has some pretty nasty micro-transactions (which, incidentally, is a ridiculous phrase). It has the usual uber-powerful items for sale and you can also buy gold (in-game, natch, not sacks of bullion) – I have no problem with this. If you want to waste your money on items that, other than being close to game-breaking, have such small impact on the game, then that’s your own fault. What I do have a problem with is the fact you also have to purchase additional character classes and enemy types – and you will want the other character classes. The base game is £10.99 which is already overpriced for what you get, but the deluxe addition, which has everything the game currently has to offer, is outrageously overpriced at £20.
If it wasn’t for the price, I would unflinchingly recommend Warhammer Quest – it reminds me of the days of yore when simple, well executed games triumphed and that’s a Very Good Thing, and I honestly haven’t played anything this addictive in donkey’s years. However, that recommendation comes with a heavy caveat about the price and what you get for it – if you can get it in a sale, don’t think twice about snapping it up.