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Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes - Definitive Edition

Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes - Definitive Edition

Written by Elliot Hilderbrand on 7/20/2023 for SWI  
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I’ve never spent any real time with the Might & Magic universe. I’ve also never put much time into match-three-style puzzle games. When the chance to review a game that includes both arose, I jumped at it. Alright, that’s not true at all. I watched a trailer and was drawn into the world. The art alone sold me on trying this out. Watching the trailer, I could see there was more strategy than just matching colors. I’ve never been much of a match-three type of gamer, but I’m not sure why. I do a daily crossword and Soduku, so I have that puzzle itch scratched daily. Clash of Heroes looked to be a real test for me; would this be a new genre I fall in love with?

When it comes to story, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes has it, but there’s no real meat on the bone. The story is basic and predictable. You play as the children of kings and queens from around the globe. At the start, a big meeting with the heads of these kingdoms takes place, and to put it mildly, it’s a slaughter. All of the adults, save one, are killed off-screen. This isn’t much of a spoiler, it happens in the first five minutes. As their children, it is now your duty to track down the missing magical items and restore peace to the realm—a pretty standard affair. There are a few twists, betrayals, and some fantasy tom-foolery, but again, nothing crazy, and very predictable. I found myself skipping through most of the cutscenes, the reading wasn’t very engaging and had little to do with the gameplay.

Here is what is not predictable, the gameplay. When you enter battle, you face off against another hero character on the other half of a battle grid. Each grid has eight columns on each side, and up to six units can fit on each column at one time. You then play a match-three style of game each round. If you line up a column of three of the same unit you attack, if you line up a row of three of the same unit, you create a wall the enemy units have to clear before attacking. The goal is to attack the opposing hero character, who is unseen but their hit points are attacked once you break through the line you are trying to attack. There are a couple of other elements, but they build on the premise of lining up units to attack or defend.

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is a near-perfect example of easy-to-learn, hard-to-master. I would amend the traditional saying to something a little closer to easy to learn, impossible to win. The basis is simple, but there are too many outside factors that make Clash of Heroes go from a fun time to a nightmare. The first problem is the random layout at the start of a battle. My units are always put in different places, but the computer opponent units are not. On the first turn, it makes the same moves, setting up rows and columns to attack in the same place every time you play that match. I know what is coming, but if I have a bad starting placement, I can’t do anything about it. Some matches took me eight or nine times to win because there was nothing I could do to defend myself from the onslaught at the start of the match.

I have other issues with the combat, but they are exclusive issues with me and how I would like to play. You only have a set number of moves you can make on your turn, and they never feel like enough. If I could make one or two extra moves in a turn, I would always have done better. The two extra, or special units you can use in fights are fun and interesting, but they take up so much space on the battle grid that I find myself having more success not using them. I know that can not be the correct way to play, or the developers' intention, that leaving out units makes games easier, but that was my experience.

Am I just stupid? Yes. But, am I too stupid for this game? Also, probably yes. I really like the ideas Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is trying to get at, even if I don’t feel smart enough to play. The problem feels the same when it comes to Chess. I can think two, maybe three turns ahead. But often, I need to think four, maybe five turns ahead; it’s the same with Clash of Heroes. But you often can not think that far ahead, because I have used up all the units on the board and need to call in reinforcements. That puts another random assortment of units onto the battle grid, and the process begins anew, only now I have some units already set to attack or defend, making my new choices even more limited. I also get rusty when I skip playing for a day. I need to refresh my brain to work the way Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes needs me to in order to be successful. Luck seems to play a big factor too. If I get a good loadout at the start I can usually win a match quickly.

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes also has some RPG elements. Your hero and units level up after winning a battle. While some of the traditional elements are present, they don’t fit very well into this mold. There is no way to grind out levels for units or your hero, outside of a few side quests in each territory. And while they are called side-quests and are not required, if you want a fighting chance of winning you better do them. If not, you’ll find yourself three or four levels back when you face off against the territories boss. In the first world, I got to the final boss sitting at level 6, the boss was level 10. After going back and finishing the sidequests, I was sitting at level 8, a much easier feat to beat him, although it still took five tries at level 8 to win. I found it a bummer I couldn’t just grind out some levels, I feel like I would have a better overall experience if I could be a level or two higher.

It’s not an entire miss for me. When it comes to the art and look of Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, this one is top-tier. The art resembles something that feels like it was drawn for a Saturday morning cartoon of my childhood. The movement of the characters in battle, and the traversal of the world, is so good that the backgrounds the characters battle and walk across are doing a disservice by not having the same feel and look. While the cutscenes didn’t do much for me to make the story interesting, the art was fantastic to look at.

When it comes to multiplayer Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes has the right idea too. There are 30 heroes you can unlock to use in the multiplayer modes. As you progress through the five territories of the campaign, you unlock new heroes for the multiplayer. Each hero has a unique ability, and they are powerful, but none of them feel game-breaking. Multiplayer has two modes, an online mode, and a pass-and-play. Any game with pass-and-play is doing something right in my book, and Clash of Heroes is no exception. I miss the days of sitting in my parent's car, going on some road trip, and beating my younger brothers in a game that has pass-and-play. This feature will get the most playtime from me and my friends.

And lastly, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is perfect for handheld. The art still looks crisp, the size of the units is not hindered by the handheld mode of the Switch. If anything, it should always be played in handheld mode. I didn’t know it when I began my review, but Clash of Heroes has been ported to many different platforms, including mobile phones. I can see this being an excellent game for car rides, airplane trips, or bathroom breaks.

When it comes down to it, I get frustrated with Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes more often than not. Maybe it’s something I don’t understand about the battles. I can think ahead, but that often isn’t helpful because the moment you call in new units, you have to rethink your options. The story doesn’t do much to get me to stick around, either. But Clash of Heroes is pretty. The art is something to look at and enjoy. The multiplayer options are great as well, including a pass and play feature that I wish I saw in more games. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is clearly not for me, but I can understand it is for some. Someone who is a glutton for punishment, with the patience to replay the same battles until you come out the victor.

There is a lot I enjoyed with Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. When I’m winning, I like the gameplay loop. The art is fantastic, and looks great when I play in hand held mode. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes starts out as a welcoming game. After a few battles, I begin to see the cracks. Enemy heroes I play against are two, sometimes three, levels ahead of me, something that is not easy to overcome. The random drops of units on my side don’t feel equal to the ones my AI enemy gets. I feel like I’m always on the defensive during the campaign. But the multiplier is excellent, pass-and-play is exactly what I want in a game like this.

Rating: 7 Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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I'm pulled towards anything that isn't driving or sports related; having said that, I love a good kart racer. I Can't get enough RPGs, and indies are always worth a look to me. The only other subject I pay any attention to is the NFL (go Colts!).

While writing about games is my favorite hobby, talking is a close second. That's why I podcast with my wife Tessa (it's called Tessa and Elliot Argue).

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