I fully expected to like Hills and Rivers Remain. I mean, it’s Square-Enix! And check out the title. It’s cryptic and intriguing. Judging by the cover, this book will be awesome!
H&RR takes a tested formula (Risk, Galcon) and gives it the ol’ Square-Enix makeover, complete with sexually ambiguous princes and voluptuous princesses. You know the formula. You have a base, or, in this case, a castle. You have X amount of units at your castle. Move your units to enemy castles to take them over. If your units are greater than the enemy units, you’ll be successful. If the enemy units are greater, you’ll be defeated. When one player takes over all the castles on the map, they win.
Fine. It’s a well-worn game formula. Throw in a shaky plot, complete with character stills, and call it an RTS RPG.
Nope, again. The only thing RPG about this game is the developer.
And the character stills? Please delete them with extreme prejudice. Of course, you’re only really getting a few images of each character (sad, happy, mad) to accompany enough meaningless chatter to make you want to tap your finger through the screen. All the good guys are very tortured and emotional. All the bad guys are joyful and sarcastic. And you don’t care because you just want to get on with the damn game.
Seriously, the dialog in this game interrupts far too often. And when I say interrupt, I mean it. If some random character decides to go on about the evils of war while you’re trying to move your troops, too bad, your move is cancelled. And this can be a big deal since it’s a real time strategy game. Without the so-called story, this game would be passable. With the story, it’s just irritating.
Add to that the painfully slow troop movement. I suppose Square-Enix is going for reality here–as in, how long will it take a bunch of knights to hike from one castle to the next? One helluva a long time, apparently. You can capture stables and use speed power-ups to liven things up a bit, but it still feels sluggish.
H&RR could be a decent strategy game, but when the game comes with the Square-Enix label, it’s kind of like saying a Ferrari F430 Spider could be a decent commuter. We all expect more. Where is Final Fantasy (any version)? Or even Final Fantasy Tactics? Other developers have proven that the iPhone can handle games like that and more. FFT is on Gameboy Advance for god’s sake. I know I’m not the only one who has paid for the same Final Fantasy games for different systems repeatedly over the years. This is easy money, Square-Enix! Why keep throwing substandard stuff like Hills and Rivers Remain at us?
Unless you’re crazy about this type of game, disregard the Square-Enix label and pass on Hills and Rivers Remain.