Kingdom Under Fire: The Crusaders went through (well, across one corner of) development hell on its route to the shelves. Three changes of publisher meant that the game that finally hit stores was missing a few key features that Phantagram felt would really push it into the realms of excellence. Heroes aims to refine the original’s still brilliant concept to earn the Kingdom Under Fire series the place in gaming history its predecessor failed to secure. But has it managed it this time?
Between missions, the game takes you to different towns on a downsized map, and shows you where all the battle hot spots on the continent are. This lets you develop a real sense of the geography of the war, and prevents the plot from becoming a sideshow in the proceedings – which is convenient, as it’s genuinely engaging, and reaches some significant (if rather sentimental) conclusions.
The seven heroes serve an additional plot function by providing a window into the private proceedings of the world – where normally we might expect a dramatic cut-scene, here much is learned from the dialogue between characters, often during missions. This personal aspect generates an empathy that translates straight into the gameplay, giving you motive and desire to win – it’s clear from the start that Phantagram wants you to actually care.
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