In a world of magic, a world where Gods used to rule and wage war. Now in a godless world mere mortals have learnt to gather the earthbound powers for good, and ultimate evil. With power comes responsibility, and as you all know absolute power corrupts absolute. This is the world of The Pantheon Cycle, and you lead a band of heroes through the battlefields.
The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect is a turn based RPG on a hex grid. It leans heavily towards the turn based strategy genre, and the RPG aspect is limited to having unique upgradeable characters in your party.
The game starts off with a beautifully narrated storyline inspired by Norse mythology, and modern day Magic the Gathering. With such a strong accented introduction to the world it sets some quite high expectations when it comes to presentation, and gameplay. Sadly the presentation lets it down from the first time you move a character. There is no animation at all when moving. The only graphical indication that you are fighting is that there are arrows fired from archers, and a weak indication that you have hit your target. The next disappointment is the weak sound effects with just the odd grunt, and poor movement sounds. No music in the game, but thankfully you can play your own music. So far it doesn’t look to good for this game, but in the end what matters most is gameplay.
The actual gameplay of The Pantheon Cycle is painfully slow. I know that TBS games are supposed to be played at a low pace all the while you ponder over strategy. In The Pantheon Cycle there is a combination of slow movement, slow battles and low level strategy that makes it all feel like syrup. Tap a character, tap an enemy, choose move to attack, attack if within the action points left. Repeat, over and over again. Movement is just as bad, as it doesn’t offer any grid showing the range of movement. Too often I find myself moving within enemy range, without the ability to strike back for a turn. Furthermore when attacking, or being attacked there is only the attacker making a move. No retaliation that is usually a standard for the genre. This makes the battles so slow, oh so slow. Furthermore there are no way of telling the hit points left for the opponents meaning that it is easy to waste powerful attacks on almost dead enemies.
Once you have defeated all enemies, and considering that they can come out of the fog of war from any direction it takes some time. Once you have done all that you have to find chests, or move to the correct spot. This is also slow, and the fog of war doesn’t lift even after all enemies are eradicated. There is a move all option, and that I use a lot to get anywhere. The pace is still painfully slow.
The characters in the game are unique, and all come with a variety of strengths and weaknesess. If they fall in battle, they will be resurrected with the loss of experience earned for that particular battle. I like this more than the Fire Emblem way where a character dies permanently if fallen in battle. It does however make the characters feel more like units, and to some extent I care less for their wellbeing than if there were harsher results than loosing some XP.
The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect is the first game in a series, and it is definitely an ambitious endeavour creating an RPG series as a indie developer. Kudos to that, but in the end it isn’t a great game. When a game says that it is worth ten bucks it needs to back it up with shiny graphics or inspired game play. Pantheon Cycle lacks both, and all it can offer is an ambitious attempt at creating something great. With no online functionality there is little room to build a fan base focusing on multiplayer. The single player campaign takes hours to finish, but more due to slow pace than due to being difficult.
I want to enjoy Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect, but it is hard to when I get bored moving my troops along the battlefield. I wanted it to be the next Rimelands: Hammer of Thor that took me by surprise infusing great strategy in a turn based game. I can only offer an extremely limited recommendation to the most hardcore turn based strategy gamer to get The Pantheon Cycle.
The Pantheon Cycle: Shrouded Aspect $4.99 Introduction sale, normal $9.99