When new iterations of storied franchises are birthed, they usually get stuck into two camps with fans: going too far afield from the formula and staying too close to the formula. With Might & Magic Heroes VII, Limbic Entertainment chose the latter route. Here’s the thing: it kinda works in its favor.
That’s the thing about us old school PC gamers, we have long memories. I was first introduced to the Heroes of Might & Magic series back in 1999 with Heroes of Might & Magic III. And that design of have a hero, collect a variety of warriors, mages and mythical creatures and search for treasure and adventure is the same today as it was back then and it’s as if my long lost friend has suddenly appeared.
Sure, the stories are a little contrived, but it’s a fantasy story in a fantastic world. You are the Duke of Griffon and are having council to decide whether to plunge the crumbling empire into war with the hope of coming out with a better world or stepping out of the way of the lesser man in order to save innocent lives from having to endure a long war. As you sit and listen to your advisors, they tell stories broken into campaigns you, the player, must partake. It’s not the most compelling, but individual narrative is not the driving force of the game.
That would go to the game’s exploration through the overworld and the turn-based combat, which has been a staple for more than 20 years. It is obvious that this is where Limbic focused its energies. The character design and animations in the battle arenas are superb. I mean, you stop playing just to admire their work, exceptional. I really cannot say enough about these designs. From the color palettes to the death animations, every character is lovingly detailed from the lowly cabir to maybe my personal favorite – the arcane eagle. I sometimes even protected the arcane eagle during battle, not because it was my strongest creature, but I loved watching it too much.
The battle systems themselves stick to the tried and true formula of Heroes of Might & Magic games of the past, and while that made understanding them easy, I felt like some of the balancing between creatures in battle could have used a little work. Or maybe my hero’s development could have evolved differently. I felt most battles were either too easy or too difficult. I would steamroll 8 battles in a row and slam into a brick wall that involved numerous failures followed by me pulling out the victory by a fortunate “roll” rather than my strategy.
That’s another thing. While Heroes may be a remnant of my past and a bit like “riding a bicycle,” per se, there was no real tutorial to speak of. New players could be easily turned off by the unintuitive design and lack of introductory mechanics. In battle, there are enough breadcrumbs to aid the player and put them on the right path, but in the overworld, even I had a little trouble with movement and exploration.
Overall, Might & Magic Heroes VII, is a solid game built on a storied franchise with beautiful character design and animation. Limbic Entertainment’s goal was obviously to appease a nostalgic vibe inside PC gamers who love the old turn-based strategy games. They were extremely successful in that regard. 20th Century PC gamers can bathe in the nostalgic glory of this game. If you do not find yourself in that narrow niche of gamers, you may want to wait and see on this one.