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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review: Hoard (PSN; PS3/ PSP)

Hoard is an addictive little game. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but for such a cheap asking price, it’s good to have sitting on the PS3 or PSP hard drive to relieve those moments of boredom.

I'm attacking your house, stealing your loots

In short – you play as a dragon, and you need to collect loot to increase the size of your hoard. You collect loot by burning farms, cities, carts and other objects to the ground. Oh, and you’re competing against other dragons to collect the most loot, so you need to do it quickly.

It starts off simply enough. There’s a few isolated farms, perhaps a village or two, and some slow moving carts to target. But as the game goes on, the amount of stuff happening on screen scales rapidly. Suddenly you have to contend with knights and archers, wizard's towers and chasing down carts piled to the brim with treasure. Not to mention the princesses start to appear. If you can capture one of those and hold it hostage at your lair for a short time you’ll earn a massive pay load, but it also means every knight and soldier is going to start targeting your lair.

It gets hectic. Thankfully, as you accumulate more treasure, the little dragon levels up, and you can choose to upgrade his breath weapon, flight speed, defence rating or the amount of treasure he can carry at once. Your opponent dragons are doing the same thing, of course, so at some point you'll need to contend with them. There's some power ups that are scattered around the playing field, and taking the time to pick those up can yield a range of benefits for the dragon - from speed boosts to special breath weapons.

The game is paced perfectly. New challenges are introduced at just the right time to keep you on your toes, without feeling overwhelmed. The penalty for losing all the dragon’s health is just a short period of downtime. Though it means the other dragons get a chance to grab more treasure, the lack of a “game over” screen also means this game is never threatening. It’s just simple fun. With games lasting just 10 or so minutes at a time, Hoard has that enviable pick up and play quality.

This game really is charming. Don't know why the developer calls it a 'strategy' game though. It isn't

The visual style is another real strength for the game. Bright, vibrant and colourful, everything has that faux-retro glamour that has made other games such as 30 Second Hero or 3D Dot Heroes so appealing. Though the screen can get packed with stuff happening at times, the frame rate always stays smooth, and with charming music, this game is a very pleasant experience.

There’s a couple of variations on the basic theme, and a decent range of maps to play on, but Hoard does unfortunately have the content you’d expect from a budget title. This means it’s better suited to the PSP for on-the-go bursts than the PS3 where you’re likely to be looking for far more in depth play. But either way, Hoard is simple, charming fun that nearly everyone should get a kick out of.

Review: Hoard (PSN; PS3/ PSP)
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