Developer: Big Sandwich Games
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
When I first played HOARD back at PAX, I knew it was something special. HOARD is a game where you are the dragon — not some guy riding a dragon, not some knight fighting a dragon, and not some happy, smiling dragon that wants to help people. You are a dragon who looks at people as things to give you gold. And if they don’t give you the gold you crave, you’ll gladly take it from them. Humans are nothing more than ATMs, and it’s time to make a withdrawal.
You can play alone, or with a few friends (up to 4 players total). Pick a mode and a map, and you’re on your way. At it’s core, HOARD is a 2-stick shooter — one stick controls your direction, and the other shoots in the direction indicated. As time passes, silly humans decide to build things like towns, castles, windmills, etc. It’s your job to swoop in and burn that stuff to the ground. The burnt structure turns into gold which you pick up, and bring to your HOARD (get it?). The goal is to be the dragon with the most loot at the end of the 10 minute round. Is your buddy collecting more than you are? Roast him, and take whatever he was carrying at the time. Just make sure no one else does the same to you, because none of the other dragons like you. Oh, and the NPCs don’t like you, either.
As time goes on, the castles will begin to produce princesses which you can snatch up and ransom back to the kingdom for fat loot. Of course, the castle also produces knights who will pour into your domain and try to rescue the princess. And they hit hard. If you decide to ignore the castles and concentrate on the towns, you’d better watch out for the archers that spawn from there. And their arrows are tipped with dragon-be-gone. If you decide to just fly around, then you’d better watch out for the wizard towers which will fire lethal bolts at you from across the screen. When you think about it, the humans are really just asking to be smoked. Man, it’s hard out here for a dragon.
HOARD offers a truly addictive arcade-style challenge, and the 10 minute rounds are perfect for jumping in, firing it up, and jumping out. The gameplay is the very definition of “a moment to learn, a lifetime to master”. The strategy is deep, but the game is extremely easy to pick up and play. It’s fast-paced, it has local and online co-op and vs. modes, and you get to be a dragon.
The game is not without fault, however. The one glaring issue I see is that there aren’t persistent game sessions. In short, at the end of each 10 minute round, you’re taken back to the title screen and left to set up a fresh new game. Now, if you just wanted to play a quick game and go on about your non-gaming life, this isn’t a big deal. If you wanted to sit down and spend some real quality hours with HOARD, then you’d better get used to choosing the mode, map, and dragon color often. This really becomes a problem when you finish an online game, and decide you want a rematch — good luck finding those players again.
The Demitrius Determination:
You should buy this game right now. Right. NOW. If you like having fun, there is no reason for you not to have this game. Dude…you get to be a dragon…did I mention that? HOARD is a game you can play with hardcore gamers, non-gaming friends, or with your significant other right next to you on the couch; however, I’d suggest you stick to the co-op modes with your girlfriend/wife/boyfriend/husband. Take it from me: the satisfaction you get from roasting your wife and taking her gold does not last as long as the sensation you’ll get from having her punch you in the eye for laughing at her skills.