Rimelands: Hammer of Thor Review (iPhone)

Release: Sept 2, 2010
Genre: Turn based RPG
Developer: Crescent Moon Games
Available Platforms: iPhone and iPod Touch
Players: One
MSRP: $4.99
Apple Rating: 9+

If you are looking to get your RPG fix while on the go, the iPhone has a great selection of games. From action, turned based, and tactical turned based RPGs, the iPhone has you covered. Based on the steam punk fiction, Rimelands: Hammer of Thor is the first in a series of great turn based RPGs that involve vault exploration, quests and simple combat that will easily bring in new and hardcore RPG players.

Surviving underground for a thousand years due to unbearable cold on Earth, mankind discovers an advanced technology they call Steam. With this new technology, the humans rise back to the surface in hopes of living above once again. To their surprise they find that a new bread called the Fair Folk, or Faerie, have now populated Earth. A war was fought but lost and a new group to bring together the humans and Faerie on Earth formed. Taking on the role of Rose Cristo, players embark on a great treasure hunt looking for valuable items for Rose’s Grandma that have been hidden in vaults. Each vault relates to the past, present and future and hold valuable information for Rose as she visits them.

When it comes to gameplay, Rimelands uses a simplifed RPG mechanic that should be easy for anyone to use. Take me for example. I’m not a huge fan of turn based RPGs. I like them, but they tend to feel too slow and involve a lot of thinking when it comes to leveling and the paths you can take. Rimelands on the other hand follows a fairly linear structure both with the story and leveling as well as a simple and quick combat mechanic which drew me into the game and made it hard to put the game down. From exploring to battles, the transition is seamless. Using the same virtual directional buttons, players can use a quick attack in the direction the enemy. For more powerful, skillful attacks, everything you need is readily available on the main screen making it very quick and easy. Defeating the enemy on the other hand can be quite challenging due to the lack of grinding. A lot, if not all RPGs I’ve played involve the ability to revisit locations to defeat enemies, gain extra experience and ultimately become a stronger character. In Rimelands, once you complete an area and defeat all enemies, there isn’t really a need to come back. You can still visit the area, but you will just be visiting a desolate wasteland; although some vaults have hidden areas. When you do level up, you can select one of the three skills –  melee, range, and magic. Every second level though only adds an additional die to the selected skill. When attacking and defending, dice are rolled and the amount of damage is randomly determined. Each dice has a single attack, double attack, miss, and shield face. With mana, you can re-roll an unsucessful dies but only once per turn/ So if you rolled a shield or miss during the attack turn, you can re-roll to try and get another attack dice; the opposite happens during the defense turn while your opponent attacks.

I really liked how progressive and simple the game was. Having progressive storytelling and leveling is great while the game is not not filled with boring grinding elements like most RPGs. Exploring and defeating enemies will award you with new and more powerful weapons/armor, while new levels will give you some interesting new skills. Visually and audio wise the game is great in making you feel immersed in a cold, sci-fi and mysterious world.

While playing the game, I noticed many places where improvements could be made. When leveling up, there is no option to quickly view the skill tree. When playing, I decided to have a somewhat balanced character, so when it came to leveling up, I wanted to see what skill I should unlock next. However the only way to view the skill tree is by entering the menu before the level up screen. Many times I would forget that the next fight would be enough XP and would forget to check which skill I wanted to unlock next. The next thing I noticed was the repetitive looking vaults. They looked great in that they fit the cold, steam, and metal world, but just about every vault looks the same aside from the layout. Due to the fixed camera position, you will occasionally feel lost or stuck due to hidden doors. The doors aren’t meant to be hidden, but with an option to rotate the camera, or making some lower doors visible, would help in some situations. Lastly, game progression. I’ve mentioned the game progresses quite nicely, but having a section that lets you know how long you’ve played, or a percentage showing the amount of game you’ve completed would have been nice to see.

My final thoughts:

Overall I found Rimelands: Hammer of Thor to be a great new addition to the RPG genre on the iPhone. The simple and quick combat was great for someone like me who previously wasn’t a big fan of turn based RPGs. The story was interesting, and the linear progression was a nice touch leaving the grinding part out. At times it would have been nice to level up a bit more to defeat a certain group of enemies, but after a few retries, it wasn’t too bad. I look forward to the next game in the series to see where it goes from here.

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