|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Wicked Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 13, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
For anyone whos been paying attention, Majescos Dawn of Heroes has been taking a little while. First announced to be released in the winter months of 2009, several delays have pushed back the tactical RPG. Finally, as of September 2010, nearly a full year after its intended release date, the game is out. For those who are curious, the reason for the postponement seems to be due to a delay of licensure from Nintendo to distribute the game. Why? Who knows? And it doesnt matter anymore either, because its out, and its a surprisingly fun game.
Dawn of Heroes is technically a role-playing game, specifically a tactical role-playing game. The DS system provides an ideal platform for a game in the genre to shine. In Dawn of Heroes, the bottom screen is utilized to show the battlefield from an aerial view, allowing for a point and click tactical feeling with the stylus. Meanwhile, the upper screen is used to display the eye candy of the graphics and battle reenactment as well as explain various stats and abilities as well as the games dialogue.
The games combat is fairly simple, for a TRPG that is, but still more in-depth than your standard game. The thing that particularly jumped out at me is how Dawn of Heroes had obviously been heavily influenced by 4e Dungeons and Dragons. Characters are divided into four general class types which correlate directly to 4es defender, leader, striker, and controller archetypes. There is a big focus on controlling movement and status effects; even party sizes are capped at five. Its not a bad thing; 4e certainly has some great things going for it that are ideal to borrow.
The central plot of Dawn of Heroes is light-hearted and whimsical. A band of adventurers discover a talking belt that designated them as The Chosen Ones and inspired them to complete a series of missions to break the spell controlling the leaders of different baronies. The dialogue along the way drives the story forward, albeit in a comical fashion. The heroes constantly get frustrated with one another and get themselves into bizarre situations such as fighting on the back of a giant turtle with no idea quite how they got on it. Along the way you will have opportunities to recruit and hire more adventurers to your party. Over twenty characters are available to choose from when forming your active party of five. Characters are also able to be equipped with a slew of weaponry, armor, and accessories to raise their combat prowess or provide extra benefits. The items and recruitment help tremendously in keeping things fresh and interesting between battles and allowing for even more strategic planning.
For as carefree as the plot and dialogue is, battles have serious tactical mechanics. Even the easier battles require some thought on how to best approach the situation. Each character can do damage in the form of physical, magical, or affliction. To counter that, everyone is resistant to each type of damage to various degrees. Also, under most circumstances a character can only be attacked once per round, making careful coordination of attacks and effects paramount. Some particularly nasty enemies wont be people youll want to have running wild on the battlefield against your team for very long, so figuring out the best way to take them out of the game as quickly as possible while also eliminated the lesser threats is central to Dawn of Heroes strategy. A few battles vary from the goal of defeat all enemies and veer into keeping a certain character alive while boss battles get more creative and often have a series of waves that must be completed.