Hoard is an action-strategy game where you play as a fire-breathing dragon. If that doesn’t immediately grab your attention, there’s probably something wrong with you. Being a dragon of the Tolkien variety, you’re a particularly greedy bastard who spends the entire game burninating the countryside and robbing the dirty peasant folk of all their gold, princesses and wealth. Concept-wise, Hoard is pretty freaking sweet. More importantly, the gameplay is solid and the price is incredibly reasonable.
Hoard is a game that’s meant to be enjoyed in nice, bite-sized chunks. There is no conventional single-player campaign or story mode for players to follow. “You’re a dragon and you like gold” is the gist of it. The game’s art design and top-down bird’s eye view makes it look and feel very much like a board game. Aside from single-player high scores, nothing is carried over from one match to the next.
There are a couple different modes to play through, but the meat of the game is in its Treasure mode. Giving you a ten-minute time limit, the game tasks you with grabbing any and all booty you can find. Burning down villages, crops, towers and castles rewards you with bags of gold that you pick up and fly back to your pile of swag to drop off. Likewise, you can kidnap a princess to hold for ransom or steal massive gems from wizard towers. Of course, there are quite a few obstacles to impede your treasure binge such as thieves, noble knights, town archers and other dragons. There’s also a survival mode, a co-op function and a game mode that challenges you to kidnap as many princesses as you can, but you’ll most likely be spending the majority of your time in Treasure mode.
The twist with Hoard’s arcade-y game design is that it mixes in RPG stat building and power-ups to add a slight element of strategy to the chaos. Hoarding gold also nets you experience, which can then be used to upgrade your dragon’s fire breath, flight speed, gold carrying capacity and armor. There are also power-ups littered across the map that offer all sorts of cool effects like ice breath, fire balls and super fast flight.
While single-player is definitely fun, multiplayer is the game’s greatest strength. An online match basically takes everything from Treasure mode and throws human opponents into the mix. This creates an interesting scenario where you can either fly off and collect gold by yourself hoping that no one wants to mess with you or follow other players and steal from them. All’s fair. The dragon with the most loot by the end of the match wins. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to play that many matches. Whether this is due to a small online community or bad servers, we don’t know.
This is a game that benefits from simple design. Supported by well-executed mechanics and a very cheap price tag, Hoard is the perfect game for anyone seeking a quick fix.
Apr 13, 2011