iPhone and iPad games tend to benefit from minimalism. Angry Birds, Peggle and QuickHook proved you can get a lot of game out of a little focus. Battleheart sits at the opposite end of the spectrum alongside games like Infinity Blade and Flight Control – simple yet deep and attention-intensive. Part action RPG and part real-time strategy, Battleheart’s for those who crave a more robust experience. In other words, anyone who cares enough about games to read this article.
You’ll start out with just a couple units to command around a one-screen battlefield. But as you clean enemy clocks, you’ll rake in cash to spend on new weapons, armor, items and hireable helpers to bring into battle. Minstrels, mages, warriors and wizards each have their advantages, so you’ll have to spend time tweaking your team until you find a combo that works best for your play style. Regardless of how you kick orcs’ asses, you’ll have to be quick about it.
Touching a unit and dragging is a simple way to move and attack, with one-touch special abilities – meteor showers, healing spells, tornado-makin’ sword-spinnin’. This is all well and easy until a half-dozen bats drop in to help out a handful of green-skinned, wizard-stabbing jerks, at which point you’ll need to keep an eye on four friendlies at once, ensuring each of their hit points stays above dead, and fending off anyone who tries to introduce your healer’s face to their battle axe.
Stages are straightforward, and the sole differences are the enemies populating each new background, but despite the systematic repetition Battleheart rarely wears itself out. Even when we encountered brick-wall difficulty spikes early on, re-grinding through earlier levels to boost stats and earn new skills made for satisfying progress. Your team levels quickly, abilities unlock often, and you’ll always have enough gold to get something new, whether it’s a big-ass hammer, an armor improvement or a status-affecting ring.
Battleheart’s hardly a deep role-playing game, but it boils its combined genres down to their bare essentials while retaining enough complexity to keep it entertaining. It’s fast-paced, challenging and way cute – the spiffy 2D art reminds us of Castle Crashers’ squat characters and vibrant worlds. That’s plenty enough to warm our Battleheart.
Feb 11, 2011