Release: Sept 18, 2010
Genre: Match 3 puzzle, strategy
Developer: 10tons Ltd. and MythPeople
Available Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, PC, Mac
Apple Rating: 4+
From 10tons Ltd. and MythPeople comes a new and somewhat unique take on the match three genre. While matching three or more tiles is the core gameplay mechanic, you’ll also be building a village and eventually multiple villages in the land of Kalevala.
A great drought came over the land and the people had no idea what to do. They consulted the Shaman of the village who listened to the bones. They said that over the mountains there was a new piece of land called Kalevala where there was plenty of space for living, food, and water. So, the people traveled across the mountain and now they need you to help create villages for them to live in.
Match three games started with and tend to only involve one basic formula which is of course to match 3 or more tiles or gems to score points. A lot of them now though expand on this basic formula and involve stories, battles, RPG elements, and in Heroes of Kalevala’s case, village building. By completing levels, you are awarded points which is used to unlock new items to buy in the shop such as houses, trees, upgrades to people such as farmer and carpenter, and eventually the ability to expand to a new area to create a new village. More houses means more people living in the village. More people, means extra points; especially if they are happy, but that’s easy to do if you keep making trees.
Similar to the match three mechanic in Jewel Quest, Heroes of Kalevala requires you to match tiles in a non square playing field. There are even some walls in the middle forcing you to match around them. When you make a match, the tile is flipped to blue. Once the entire background of the field is blue, the level is complete. Matching tiles is easy, but when you are required to make every tile blue within a certain time limit and work around the obstacles, it’s a real challenge. The time limit is set by the crow that travels around the border who steals your diamonds. These diamonds are collected at the end of the level to give you extra points, but if you are too slow, the crow will likely take most of them away from you. To make things even worse, some tiles will be chained up requiring you to match near them a few times to remove the chains and then match them a final time to change the tile colour. There are also ice blocks that require a single match beside them, rocks that require multiple matches beside them and even black goo that will grow and take over tile space making it harder to match. Of course these too can be removed but when you have everything on the screen at once, it’s a real challenge. To make things easier, by matching 4 of the same tiles, you will get TNT which will remove 4 adjacent tiles from the board. Matching 5 of the same tiles will give you a bomb which has a much bigger blast radius. Both the bomb and the TNT will help shuffle surrounding tiles and flip tiles so try to get as many of these as you can.
In addition to matching various tiles, you can unlock heroes that will greatly help in removing tiles faster. Each hero has his own way of helping out. For instance, one will through TNT across the level, and where the TNT lands, tiles are removed. Another will create a wave of water from the bottom up which removes tiles or another which creates a vortex on a random tile and removes surrounding tiles. That’s just a few of the heroes that will join you, but by getting more overall points per village and by unlocking new villages, new heroes will be available.
Having the ability to create a village may seem a little strange as some people like to just match tiles or gems to obtain a high score, but it’s different. Between creating villages, unlocking new items, and heroes you always have something to work towards. The thing that caught me off guard, and I don’t know why I didn’t realize it right away, but Heroes of Kalevala is made by Myth People – the creators of Dragon Portals for the iPhone. Dragon Portals was one of my first iPhone games and I found it really addictive; Heroes of Kalevala follows this and is becoming a top game in my rotation next to Dragon Portals.
One dislike that really stood out was the repetition. I mean, sure, it’s expected when you are required to just match tiles and sure, each level poses a different challenge with a new layout, but there isn’t a whole lot of variety. It isn’t a big deal because if you are playing any match three game, this repetition is what makes the game fun and addicting, but it’s something to be mentioned for newcomers and likely to keep you from playing long sessions. As well, even though matching tiles is easy, being required to flip tiles and make them blue can be a real challenge, especially with the various obstacles. You will likely find one hero you really like, but sometimes another hero will be best for a certain situation during a level.
My final thoughts:
Heroes of Kalevala is a unique game that combines match three gameplay with a lengthy village builder. Not only can you create one village but multiple villages will be opened allowing plenty of hours. Of course with this, the game is very repetitive, but the challenge is very addicting and enjoyable. If you like Jewel Quest, chances are this game is for you. If you like games like bejeweled, or RPG elements like Puzzle Quest, this likely isn’t for you. But if you like to try any type of match three game, this might just be for you too.