A long time ago, back in the late 20th Century there was a board game that captured the underground shenanigans of Hero Quest with the horror and violence of Warhammer world. And it was called Warhammer Quest. It was also a box set crammed full of plastic and carboard and it made no bastard sense.
Aside from the obvious question of why a Dward, an Elf, Barbarian and Wizard would band together other than for a joke in which they walk into a pub with hilarious results, it never really explained why by Sigmar’s left testicle there were so many dungeons in the first place and why these plucky band of misfits were exploring them other than, it seemed, they were a greedy bunch of buggers.
But for all those things, and many other nonsensical aspects, Warhammer Quest was a lot of fun and the sort of thing that you could keep playing forever. And some dungeons rather felt like they did. There was a raft of extra characters, the sculpting quality of which varied massively but their entertainment value was never in doubt. It was all going swimmingly for Warhammer Quest until the early noughties when, during a server upgrade – as the story was passed down to head office when I worked for the Games Workshop – some twat deleted it.
And so Warhammer Quest passed into legend and as other games came along and sculpting progressed those that owned the game shoved it under the bed, never to be seen again.
That is, until now. Rodeo Games have produced a video game version of the classic dungeon exploring, monster manging boardgame for iPhone & iPad. And being me I simply had to download it and put it through its paces.
Now I wouldn’t say that I was the biggest expert on the original but I can remember it well enough to say that the feel of the game is pretty dead on but with the benefit of some general tarting up.
Everything has had a face lift so the giant spiders and bats don’t look like they came out of a Kinder Surprise and the characters thankfully bear very little resemblance to the original plastics. Although the barbarian is now a Chaos Marauder which is a bit shit and makes even less sense than your bog standard barbarian consorting with the other party members.
But that aside it is a very pretty looking game. The monsters and heroes are nicely animated and things die with a very satisfying amount of blood. In fact after some of the bigger scraps the tiles – which a wonderfully reminiscent of the originals – look like something out of a Tarantino movie.
Like the original, it’s turn based with your heroes moving and manging people in the face as much as possible before a return manging ensues. The combat, providing you turn the sound off is immensely fun and becomes a delicate dance as you position your characters for not only the attacks you’d like them to make but for the contingencies you’ll need to cover your dwarf who will only ever hit 50% of the time at most. And that’s not even a joke. He’s fucking rubbish. His toughness makes him ideal to stick in the middle of the tile to get duffed up whilst the rest of the team runs around killing everyone. With the right equipment even the Wizard is better than him.
As nice feature is that, rather than the text-based grind and misery that use to be the post-quest travelling, searching and rolling on tables, you get to navigate your way around a map of what appears to be Stirland, visiting towns along the way which allows you to resupply, train your dudes or, if you have real cashy money, buy new characters to take on your adventures. You also unlock quests specific to that town which although are harder than the other ‘generic’ requests they hold greater reward.
What’s rather cool is that arriving at town you get a rather natty animation which I’ve captured below.
Once in a town you can still be afflicted by random events, just like the original, but I found the same ones kept cropping up. So much so that my Wizard apparently has a penchant for confused little old ladies who wander into the street as he keeps getting run over trying to help them. Unfortunately this knack of misadventure follows you around the Old World which usually costs you some of your hard-earned gold and adds nothing to the game other than irritation, especially if you’re a little short on coin in the first place.
Equally the ambushes come a little thick and fast at times and it’s hard to figure out if the game is meant that way or if it’s a glitch of which there are a few such as items not appearing in a characters hand so they can’t attack until you go into their inventory, remove the weapon and reassign it. Which you can’t do until the battle is over. Which is unpleasant. The Wizard sometimes will be unable to cast spells despite having the power to do so and the probability engine seems to be hopelessly, hilariously, weighted against the Elf being anything other than a hindrance. Unless this is just my experience but still rather suggests a patch or two are in order.
That aside it is a monstrously fun and addictive game. A dungeon will take a solid half an hour to an hour at a time so for £2.99 it’s pretty good value. But be warned there are a finite number of dungeons/missions and then you have to pay for expansions. Although not a lot of money, coupled with the purchasing of new characters and the option of buying gold pieces it can prove quite an expensive game, and considering it’s little more than top down, turn based, less good, more buggy, version of Diablo II that’ll soon become a rather bitter pill to swallow.
But for now it’s just great to have the old girl back, stupid wound/wounding rule, mad flailing barbarian and all. And with the ease of the customisation interface – which is displayed by rotating your device from landscape to portrait – you can field some pretty tooled up characters in a relatively short space of time. And as your heroes’ appearance changes on the screen with the load out you get them they do look pretty cool.
Warhammer Quest for iOS is great fun. However I’d like more content to be made available for free. I’d also like the quests to reap slightly more on the coin front so I don’t feel like I’m being pressured in spending a couple of quid on 4,000 gold crowns so I can get the really good shit. And with a limited number of quests before you have to buy more quests, you’ll have to spend the money.
For all the niggles, glitches, bugs (of both types) and daft rules that should have been left out, it’s just great. It’s slick to play, easy to learn but a challenge to master. The dungeons are well thought out and are made of up re-imagined tiles from the original so it has the air of familiarity about it whilst still feeling fresh and exciting. If you have £2.99, are a fan of Warhammer Quest or Warhammer in general you’d simply be mad to download a copy. And then mang lots and Orcs in the face.