With Diablo 3's insane launch fever now dying down, Heroes Call’s belated arrival on Android might damage its chances of raking in loot for the developers.
Still, few serious gamers can resist a good hack-and-slash, and Heroes Call has Diablo-esque RPG action in spades.
It’s just a shame that it tarnishes its otherwise sharp presentation with some freemium finagling, which conspires to drag you out of that hypnotic ‘zone’ all classic dungeon crawlers aim to inhabit.
A question of class
On the Tegra 3-powered devices it’s currently exclusive to, there’s no denying that Heroes Call looks the business.
The ragdoll animations, fancy particle effects, and dynamic lighting have all been tweaked to take advantage of the quad-core chip. It might lack the zaps, explosions, and swarming enemies of PC equivalents like Torchlight, but the isometric levels are crammed with hi-res scenery and intricately designed monsters.
Complementing the visual splendour is a dramatic, sweepingly orchestral soundtrack, and fine-tuned audio effects that perfectly capture the clank of blade on armour.
Gameplay is similarly refined, with controls simplified to a tap-to-move/attack system that only falters when your jabs are misinterpreted as gestures (such as swipes to charge enemies).
This badly saps the Power gauge needed to unleash special moves, so it can leave you in a bind if you’re then locked in titanic tussle with only a gentle hack at your disposal.
Chinks in the armour
There's currently a limited choice of just two character classes to fight with – Blood Knight (melee weapons) and Plague Wizard (ranged magic). More are promised, however, and there's a lengthy 40 mission campaign to take your mind off not having an Archer yet.
While Defiant Development recently abandoned the ‘wait to play’ approach to missions that blighted the initial iOS release at the end of May, Heroes Call's freemium pricing sadly never misses a trick to fleece your pockets.
There’s not even a fixed currency to simplify what you’re paying for. Regenerating mid-mission requires Gems, while identifying new loot needs Scrolls – all of which need to be bought in pricey bundles.
Occasionally, these precious items are dropped, but unless you’re prepared to grind back through previous missions to scour for scraps you’ll ending up digging deep to keep playing.Heroes Call might offer a decent Diablo-lite experience that you can get a couple of hours of action out of without spending a penny, but long haul players are going to feel like they’re the ones being looted.