Hacking skeletons and scooping up gold coins while daydreaming about what could have been.
Heroes Call is the mobile poster child for missed potential. Here's an obvious Diablo clone that could have easily trumped other dungeon crawlers on the App Store, with a memorable story, lengthy quests and tons of loot, the sort of meaty experience iPhone and iPad gamers would celebrate. Instead, Defiant Development went the freemium route, and this critical decision marred a solid third-person adventure. That, and the bizarre choice to make players wait a specific amount of time between quests, which makes no sense whatsoever.
That's right, you can't jump into the next mission whenever you please. Instead, you sit in the in-game lobby five or more minutes until the quest is available. To be fair, the time goes by somewhat quickly, and you're free to purchase new items from the blacksmith and get things appraised (this also takes time), but that only lasts so long before you'll want to explore some ruins and lay the smack down on goblins, skeleton warriors and spiders, to which the developers say "oh no, you still have three minutes to go".
Meanwhile, there are only two characters available with the game's launch (the Plague Wizard and the Blood Knight), and gems play too big a role in progressing through this title. Thing is, those green stones are hard to come by, and you can't acquire more gold without them, so you can either grind it out the old fashioned way, or go with in-app purchases. Thinking of spending $0.99 for some? Well forget it, because the lowest amount (80) costs $2.99; 1700 gems will run you $49.99.
It frustrates us to no end, because Heroes Call shows signs of greatness. There's a cool Diablo-esque feel to the game, as you tap areas on the map and watch the chosen hero move to that location. Combat works in similar fashion, where tapping enemies instructs your warrior to attack, though he doesn't auto attack, and will therefore stand around like a fool as monsters deplete his health bar.
Finally, in the classic RPG tradition, there's a variety of items to find along the way, such as swords, daggers, helms, gauntlets and other fun things you can either equip or sell. Suffice to say, it's worth kicking open every treasure chest and coffin while breaking whatever wooden barrels you stumble across, just to see what's inside.
What's more, the graphics aren't bad, with winding staircases, fire pits, dead bodies suspended in cages and ransacked libraries. The visuals didn't blow us away, but what's here works quite well.
As for the story, it's forgettable at best. The developers made the minimum amount of effort, with players scrolling through black text next to different character's heads so you know who says what, but by and large, the narrative is unimportant.
On that note, Heroes Call is a prime example of why freemium isn't always the best avenue to take for certain games. Had Defiant Development created a more full-featured experience and sold it for $0.99-$4.99, we may have proclaimed it the dungeon crawler to beat all dungeon crawlers, at least on mobile. As it stands, this game's a missed opportunity, and we doubt it'll make it into our play list even a week from now.
What's Hot: Free to play, has that Diablo feel, plenty of enemies to hack and loot to find.
What's Not: Waiting between quests, too much emphasis on IAP, only two characters currently available, boring story.