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Hero Emblems II review - "Lovely visuals and music, but match-3 combat lacks strategic depth"

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Hero Emblems II review - "Lovely visuals and music, but match-3 combat lacks strategic depth"

I'm not entirely sure if it's just the genre-fatigue talking, but there really does seem to be too many match-3 RPGs in the mobile market these days. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love the mix of genres as it combines casual combat with the best bits of role-playing and strategic thinking, and I love the way they work so well together.

The thing is that it'll only really be enjoyable if the combination is done well, and with Hero Emblems II, it just feels a little bit off to me, leaving me with mixed feelings. Will your experience be the same, I wonder?

Table of contents:

HERO EMBLEMS II GAMEPLAY

Given its genre, Hero Emblems II lets you explore different nodes on the map on a typical RPG quest. Encountering enemies thrusts you into a match-3 battle where you'll have to match emblems to perform devastating attacks to take down your foes. You can also combine these emblems for special skill effects, or you can even heal your partymates to get yourself out of a tight spot.

Outside of battle, you can use the gold you earn to buy gear you can equip your characters with. It's a typical fantasy setting as you embark on an adventure with your party's varied classes, and you'll be battling spiders, skeletons and other nasty fiends using your adventurers' unique skills. The narrative is, of course, typical of the fantasy RPG genre as well, and while it's nothing worth writing home about, it does keep you going as you hop from quest to quest to engage in match-3 combat.

The match-3 combat is, of course, the main highlight of the game. It tries to encourage you to switch things up in terms of strategy, but somehow, I found myself using the same skills most of the time without anything that's really too strategically deep. To this day, I still think Million Dungeon's strategic depth is unparalleled when it comes to its match-3 combat, and Hero Emblems II doesn't feel like it shares that same depth.

THE CONTROLS OF HERO EMBLEMS II

During my playthrough, I felt that the UI had a lot of issues that made it a little bit harder for me to enjoy the game. For instance, you'll need to tap on an exact node on the map to travel to that area (the exclamation point icon is different from the node too, by the way), which isn't too intuitive on a small touch screen, in my opinion. At one point, I kept tapping on a node and wondering why my party wouldn't move there - it turned out that I had to tap on an image of a bridge first because it meant crossing the bridge to load the next area of the map.

These little quality of life issues may seem small, but they do add to the overall experience of a game. Thankfully, the visuals of Hero Emblems II do look lovely, with the vibrant colours and the top-notch character art. I also really love the action-packed feel of every battle, as characters' grunts and battle sounds are all voiced, and really well at that. All these add to the exhilaration of each battle.

WHAT'S THE APPEAL?

While the combat can be fun, it can get pretty grindy especially when you have to earn the required gold just to nab the gear you need. QoL issues can be a bit frustrating as well, like when the enemy HP bar only appears when you attack. And while you can see the enemy turn counter, it feels a bit like a moot point strategically since you can't pick your target, anyway. Plus, after a random enemy encounter, you have to direct where the party needs to go on the map all over again.

Still, while there are a few localisation issues, they're nothing too distracting. The music is absolutely lovely too, and is one of the things that really kept me going. If anything, Hero Emblems II is another way to quench your thirst for match-3 RPGs if you're a fan of the genre. Give it a go if you're a fan of the original game as well - at the very least, it'll give you something to keep your fingers busy when you're up for a quick time-waster.

Hero Emblems II review - "Lovely visuals and music, but match-3 combat lacks strategic depth"

Hero Emblems II is a match-3 RPG that combines role-playing level progression with match-3 combat. The battles themselves feel a little bit on the lighter side when it comes to strategic depth, but it might just be your cup of tea if you're a fan of its predecessor.
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