The Hand of Merlin is a turn-based technique sport printed by the crew at Versus Evil. If the identify “Merlin” sounds acquainted, that’s as a result of this title is predicated on the legend of King Arthur, Merlin being his trusted mage. The sport provides a twist to the fabled lore in a multiverse-spanning story that launched on Steam earlier than making its strategy to consoles. The one query is, has it been definitely worth the wait? It’s a little bit of a “sure and no” scenario.
Let’s begin with a number of the constructive facets. The Hand of Merlin options story-driven gameplay that follows your band of heroes by lands filled with hazard and intrigue. The narrative actually unfolds through an enormous ebook, with new conditions revealed each few web page turns.
My favourite a part of that is the non-linear, choose-your-own-adventure storytelling type, with decisions introduced on the finish of every web page. Are you courageous sufficient to analyze that creepy tombstone? If you happen to spot a baby in peril or come throughout two knights combating, will you select to have interaction or quietly exit stage left? Some decisions merely transfer the story alongside; others supply rewards, like gold, meals, or mana. At occasions your decisions depend upon probability, and also you’ll be requested to attract a card from a deck to find out the end result. These might be as critical as an encounter with witches or as frivolous as a sport of conceal and search with some native kids.
Some conditions drag you into an precise battle. These kind the second a part of The Hand of Merlin, going down on an isometric discipline with a turn-based method akin to Fireplace Emblem. As anticipated, you select and carry out your crew’s actions earlier than the enemy chooses and performs theirs, and so forth, till one total crew is defeated. The battles play fairly nicely and make for a enjoyable distraction from the storybook scenes.
Now to a number of the negatives. My preliminary impression of The Hand of Merlin was one in every of annoyance. Firstly, the sport begins extraordinarily slowly, with a really lengthy loading display screen to welcome you. And by “very lengthy,” I imply virtually two minutes! These loading screens are a recurring concern, with delays greeting you earlier than every battle, albeit shorter in length.
Secondly, I used to be frequently annoyed with the consumer interface. There are a lot of choices when you’re taking part in, which appears nice, besides that they’re additionally complicated and poorly defined, regardless of a devoted assist web page. For instance, a “useful” pop-up saved reminding me to stage up my characters – how, precisely? There are menus all over the place, and none of them make sense at first. It’s extraordinarily cluttered and tough to navigate. The usage of a “+” image in a number of areas can also be complicated – it doesn’t imply utilizing the + button, which I’d assumed. In actual fact, I’m nonetheless unsure what it means.
I get the impression this sport wasn’t optimized for the Change, which additionally explains the poor loading occasions. For instance, one menu asks you to “hover” over sure choices for data. Nonetheless, that is unimaginable with no mouse. These points might be forgiven if touchscreen controls had been included, however they’re notably absent.
Graphically, The Hand of Merlin fares higher, sporting a darkish aesthetic throughout battles that fits the medieval theme. The battles are additionally nicely animated, with fascinating enemies to come across, together with some beastly beasts. The storybook method additionally works nicely, although the textual content could be barely laborious to learn due to the best way it slopes – it’s designed to seem like an open ebook, in spite of everything. Every web page does embrace some neat stills to accompany the textual content, although.
Total, The Hand of Merlin is a tactical sport that performs nicely for those who can look previous the lengthy loading occasions and consumer interface points. Whereas it initially put me off with its difficult menus, the respectable visuals and interesting battles are enjoyable when you get the cling of them. It’s probably a tad on the costly facet, however followers of turn-based methods will seemingly discover some delicate enjoyment right here.