Warhammer Quest Review (iOS)
When it comes to any videogame related to The Games Workshop’s intellectual property, I always feel a compulsion to mention my history with what they call “The Hobby”. I want to describe my Wood Elf and Space Wolf armies, my Orlock gang and my human Blood Bowl Team (The Kislevette Sabres). I don’t normally do this though. I normally restrain myself. Not this time obviously.
I guess I want to go into this level of detail about my tabletop and wargamming past to establish my credentials. When a developer makes a game about Space Marines or Chaos Gods or anything with lead miniatures that you would paint with a fine detail brush, I feel confident that I understand it. It feels like something I can judge authorititavely as not just a game critic, but as a lover of the Warhammer mythos in its various forms. Sadly, lovers of The Hobbey have been disappointed as often as they have been rewarded when it comes to vidoegame adaptations. I am glad to say that Warhammer Quest is unlikely to disapoint anyone, Warhammer fan or otherwise.
At heart a tabletop game reimagined on a mobile device, Warhammer Quest has solid game mechanics. This shouldn’t be surprising as it’s been made by some of the best tabletop game designers alive, and refined over years and years of play by innumerable enthusiastic hobbyists.
Essentially a turn-based strategy game, you take a team of adventurers through dungeons, mazes, sewers and more dungeons in search of treasure, fame and glory. Played from a top-down perspective, it’s a simple matter of selecting each of your heroes, moving and attacking with each one until their are no more actions left, then watching in fear as your enemies take their turn. On the easier difficulty levels character death is a setback, while on the higher levels permadeath is your punishment for lack of skill, patience or luck.
If anyone has ever played tabletop Dungeons and Dragons (or Games Workshops popular “gateway drug” Hero Quest) then they should have some idea of what to expect. A dark fantasy setting, a black sense of humour and huge doses of enjoyable high fantasy nonsense. Meanwhile, serious fans of the original Warhammer Quest tabletop game are likely to love this for how faithful an adaptation Rodeo Games have created.
When it comes to videogame versions of boardgames it’s common to see a developer take a lazy approach, relying on the popularity of the original game to sell their sub-par effort. That’s not the case here. Every part of Warhammer Quest is brilliantly designed and beautifully presented.
The production values and the quality of the games art are clear from the moment you step into your first dungeon. The games font can be a little small, but there’s a beauty to the character sheets, overworld map and even the inventory screens that you don’t normally expect to see in an iOS game. The menus and interface feels far more like an old PC RPG, albeit one full of the gorgeous artwork that Games Workshop is known for. Whether it’s the character portraits, the little animated footsteps on the world map or the panoramas of the towns you visit, every little detail is impressive in how aesthetically pleasing it is. Most impressive of all, when you walk to a town theres an animation that plays out where the buildings form from the pages of an open book thats simply gorgeous, and is exactly the kind of thing that Warhammer fans will completely lose their shit over. It’s likely to also be loved by Game of Thrones fans as it evokes the series intro.
In-game the visuals are simpler but still impressive. The layout of the dungeons are based on tiles from the tabletop game, but the characters are fully animated and modelled, even though you only see them from above. Enemies are varied and nicely drawn, but you’ll spend more time worrying about their movement speed, range of attack and special abilities than their appearance.
Moving from town to town in the Warhammer world via an overhead map, you’ll have a chance to trade, level up, recruit more heroes and progress the main story between encounters. The experience is very open ended, and random encounters spring up often.
Whether you’re in towns, in a battle or on the world map, the interface in Warhammer Quest is brilliant. Simple, accessible and intuitive, it’s a joy to use. I can’t stress enough how much of a big deal this can be in an RPG, and everyone could learn from what Rodeo Games have done here. Well, with one excpetion. Whoever thought it was a good idea to require the player to flip their device to portrait mode to see their character sheets should be sent back to user interface design school. And while I’m nitpicking, it would have bee nice to have the option of seeing the hidden dice rolls.
As regards customisation, you’re given four heroes at first with the option to buy more with real money. There’s not a lot of customisation for them at all; you won’t be naming them or dressing them up to look like Batman. You can also buy in-game gold with real money. Thankfully, after hours and hours of play I never needed to spend real money to progress in the story. I’ll probably even pay to buy some of the other characters, as I’ve had far more fun from Warhammer Quest than the reasonable price tag would suggest.
Oh, and it also has one of the most stirringly bombastic soundtracks in a fantasy game this year. Seriously, I can’t hear it without wanting to go on a quest of some sort and slay something heroically.
I could go on about Warhammer Quest at some length, telling you about the exploits of my Wood Elf Wayfarer and her quest to save a Donkey. But I won’t. Instead I’ll tell you to buy Warhammer Quest. If you love Warhammer. If you love RPG’s. If you love good games. Buy Warhammer Quest.
4.5 Quests to save an Ass out of 5Warhammer Quest Review (iOS),