Hammerwatch

Swedish studio Crackshell brings Hammerwatch for Xbox One, a hack and slash action and adventure game that’s been shining on PC since 2013. Now published by BlitWorks, the game comes with two campaigns and much more in the package. Colorful and very challenging, every gamer who enjoys a good and old Gauntlet-style game should try this little jewel. Now get your group of adventures together and let’s explore the many dungeons of this world filled of treasures and enemies waiting for us! But first, behold our review, noble warrior!

THE GOOD

  • Hammerwatch offers two campaigns, Castle Hammerwatch and Temple of Sun, and two extra modes, Survival and Hero Defense (some sort of tower defense without towers). Gameplay is simple, but very engaging: in campaigns you explore dungeons, fighting against hundreds (sometimes, almost thousands) of enemies while accumulating treasures in increasing difficult levels. With these treasures, you can buy new skills and abilities in vendors across levels (never understood why there’s always a vendor in a dark and dangerous dungeon, but let’s talk about it another time). After accomplishing some tasks, you can face the boss of the level: beat it and you can access the next level. Just remember to stock health potions and lives, because they’re really challenging. In Survival, as the name implies, you’ll crawl through the dungeons with only one live. No need to say that I didn’t go very far in this mode. At last, in Hero Defense, you must prevent enemies, wave after wave, from reaching the end zone. Whenever one of them reaches it, you lose some energy (or health… not sure what that bar indicates). To make things ‘beatable” (never use the word “easy” in this game!), you can buy new skills and upgrades from some vendors located in the level.
  • The game can be appreciated in single player, but it really shines when you play with up to three more friends in a group of heroes that really complement each other (e.g. one tank, one range, one mage and one healer… and don’t you dare saying the healer is good for nothing: his special attack is a Kamehameha-like that no one can grumble about!). When I wrote this review, I could only play with friends in local coop, but developer is committed to make the online coop available soon!
  • Hammerwatch offers you seven different heroes that really feel unique to play with: The Paladin, a melee fighter with good mobility and high defense, the Wizard, a ranged spellcaster with good area of effect, the Ranger, a handy ranged fighter, the Warlock, a melee spellcaster who can replenish health, the Thief, a high damage melee fighter that lacks defense, the Priest, a ranged spellcaster with good defense and (very useful!) healing abilities, and the Sorcerer, another ranged spellcaster with good mobility and damage. Try them all and choose the one that suits better your playstyle or the need of your group!
  • Not everybody enjoys pixel art games, but those who does are going to be delighted with this game. Although small, characters, enemies and dungeons are well detailed, with a good amount of colors. Special attacks have also great effects, transmitting a good impression of how powerful they are. And I cannot forget to mention characters animations, like the rogue swinging his knives… so adorable to see! And all this greatness with those pixeled characters you don’t like.
  • Music in Hammerwatch is great! Each scenario/campaign has its own thematic for music that gives the exactly feeling, be it for calm areas or thrilling moments during gameplay. Sound effects are good… simple, but good.
  • Except when I’m complaining about lack of content in a game that costs too much, I usually keep comments about the price of a game away from my reviews. But in this one, I may need to open an exception: for 9,99 USD you’ve got a package with plenty of content, good replay value and many hours of fun!

 

MIXED FEELINGS

  • In a game that’s all about exploration, you can expect hidden treasures, switches and rooms that will demand your attention while looking for clues (a fracture on the wall or a switch that you can barely see, maybe?) and the next place to go, but I constantly felt lost while exploring the levels. It’s good, but at the same time becomes stressful after a while.
  • Cheap deaths from traps really annoys me. It’s nothing like Dark Souls, but there’re a good number of traps waiting to take your precious lives away in Hammerwatch. When you die for missing the movement pattern of a trap on the floor, you know that’s your fault. But when you die (repeatedly) for stepping in a switch the shoots arrows at you, you start to wonder if it wouldn’t be better if they, instead of killing you, only caused damage.
 My most memorable gameplay moment was to try each one of the characters, to identify what suits my style. For my surprise, it wasn’t the tank, as I’m used to: heroes with ranged attacks worked much better for me!

 THE BAD

  • As levels are considerably large, the translucent map (accessible with View button) is as handy as you can imagine. But as it shows information about your position, locked doors, vendors and pickups, I really miss the option to zoom out on it to help me identify where I needed to go during exploration.

[Score: 9.3/10] An already successful game on PC, Hammerwatch now comes to shine on Xbox One. Its graphics, music, different game modes and gameplay sum up to form a cohesive package for those who love hack and slash adventures. Its core gameplay asks for RPG elements, but delivers an action oriented pace that works much better than I could ever expect (remember I’m a RPG fan). And the multiplayer comes as the crème de la crème of this delightful experience! Go forth, adventurer: you won’t regret it!

Dev: Crackshell Publisher: BlitWorks
Played on: 
Xbox One | LifeisXbox received a digital Preview code, provided by BlitWorks.

Hammerwatch

Hammerwatch
9.3

Overall

9.3/10

Pros

  • Lots of challenging content
  • Nice visual pixelart
  • Nice music
  • Co-op gameplay

Cons

  • Zoom option on map?