Although released almost one year ago, it is only now that I had the chance to give Hinterland a try and I decided to share the experience with you guys – if there’s somebody left on this planet who hasn’t played it yet. So read on my Hinterland review to find out if you should buy the RPG/city building sim or if you should keep your money for another game.
First things first: Hinterland was developed by Tilted Mill, the same company behind Children of the Nile and SimCity Societies, two average city building simulations. This time, the developers wanted to take the whole thing one step further and created a mixture of a role playing game with city building elements, topped it with something we could call “casual” play and offered it to the world under the name of Hinterland. And, generally, it is a good mix.
Even though the beginning is tougher than it should be. There is no tutorial whatsoever and, even though the interface and the concept are probably known by 95% of the gamers in the world, it wouldn’t have hurt to have a tutorial to tell us how to play the game. But a few minutes after the game start you will know everything there is to know gameplay-wise.
There is no story in Hinterland, which might seem strange for an RPG (or, better said, a hack and slash) and all you have to do in the game is to destroy all the enemies on the map. Plain and simple! In order to do so, you will start by choosing your character (there are more types all with different starting bonuses, but in the end the way you’ll play the game remains basically the same) and setting up some rules, making the game more challenging or easier. Then, you are thrown into the game’s world, with enemies patiently waiting in their areas and with different character types ready to come visit your town and maybe accept a job there.
This is the so-called “city building” element: you will need food and weapons, you will need people to join you in the battle, you will need money to further develop your town. All these are done in a very basic manner, by placing houses around your starting castle and upgrading it if necessary. If you’re not a huge fan of city building games, you shouldn’t worry: you won’t be troubled that much by these decisions. On the contrary, if you love building cities, then it would be best if you went for a classic like SimCity or Caesar…
Once you have your town and first 2-3 buildings set up you can go further into the enemy territory and keep hacking and slashing. There is no real point in doing so except for some very basic resource gathering and gaining access to various in-game bonuses, generally used for attracting characters to your town or fulfilling the king’s wishes.
I have personally considered the number of items dropped by monsters inconsistent and not at all satisfying: the mostly drop weapons – which can’t be sold or taken advantage of in the later stages and really few health potions or other stats boosting items. And this starts to become a pain on bigger maps when you might find yourself traveling a lot to reach the closest portal to send you home to spend some time there and regain your lost health. Add to that the fact that you can’t control what items are being created by the folks in your city and you’ll have a few reasons of frustration every now and then.
But generally you will be too busy hacking the enemies to think about something else. Unfortunately, due to some repetitive landscapes and enemies, that will become just a routine in the end. However, I still found it refreshing and pleasant, even though repetitive: Hinterland doesn’t try to bring in anything but a simple game that can be played for five minutes per day (or even a couple of hours) and it succeeds greatly with that! Of course, the hardcore RPG fans might not like it since there is basically no depth whatsoever, but those who just wish to have some fun and nothing else, the game will do a great job.
The visuals are not impressive, nor is the sound, but having in mind that you can get the game for as low as $20, I think we can live with that. Especially since the game, in the end, is fun and simple.
Hinterland is an interesting mix of two genres that apparently have nothing in common: RPG and city building, but this doesn’t make it a poor product. It is indeed simple to play, a bit repetitive and it lacks depth but all these were the plans of the developers who wanted to deliver a casual, fast and fun title rather than a complex one that will result in sleepless nights and angry parents. So if you want something like that too, give this game a try. It might be a really pleasant surprise!
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