Battle Hunters Review

Hero pick 'n' mix.

As poodle-barneted Welsh songbird Bonnie Tyler famously sang, we are all holding out for a hero. Well, I have good news for you, as Battle Hunters contains more heroes than you can shake a stick at. From wizards and warriors to dragon-folk and space marines, this game has the biggest case of identity crisis I’ve seen in a long while.

Billed as a classic RPG with a tactical real-time combat system, does this over-abundance of heroes – 28 in all – make this the best of all worlds or is it less than the sum of its parts? Without wanting to unduly spoil my conclusion, suffice it to say that it would take more than 28 heroes to save Battle Hunters from dull mediocrity.

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Battle Hunters takes a very light approach to narrative and dialogue. There are brief bursts of exposition between whoever is your lead character and NPCs, but these amount to nothing more than “Go here” with the whole process being incredibly linear. There are occasional sidetracks to unlock extra characters but these are rare and limited at best. You begin with a humble soldier, find a mage companion and then your roster swells from there. Every character has ‘unique’ skills and attacks, but in practice these are just simply variations on melee, ranged, and magic, with almost no real difference.

Battle Hunters has very stylised look, with character designs that have large, oversized heads and approach a cartoon-like aesthetic. While I can appreciate the attempt to produce something distinctive, the end result is pretty basic and unappealing. Every character does at least look different, and there are some interesting enemy designs with influences from various mythologies, although the actual number of different foes is small given the game’s length.

Building your team involves either simply talking to new characters or having to run a simple fetch quests for them. Some of these quests can take a long time to complete as the required object is locked away until later in the game, but with everything being so linear there is no real challenge aside from patience. Furthermore, despite the impressive range of character types, very few of the heroes are particularly useful. I ended up working through at least half the game alternating between about 6 characters; indeed I only used this many because of the freemium-style approach to health recovery.

Exploring the world is as rudimentary as the environments are functional. The linear paths to follow are predictable and the actual areas are disappointingly small. There are portals and locked paths but the progression is simply a matter of following each path until you reach a dead end or fight and then rinsing and repeating. This may sound like a distillation of all RPGs, but there’s not much meat on the bones of this skeleton. At least there’s no random encounters and enemies can be seen in the world, but the amount of grinding you need to do if you want to keep a varied line-up is completely out of place with the non-respawning enemies.

Your team is made up of three heroes, and you have complete freedom to choose from all those that you have unlocked. The usual temptation would be to select a varied team with complementary skills, but it soon becomes clear that the only workable approach is to pack the team with high hp melee fighters, as magic users can too often die in one hit. With no way of reviving heroes in a fight and healing almost entirely relying on the limited supply of items found or bought, there is no reason to take on the risk of your characters not surviving and therefore wasting the XP. Damaged characters heal when out of the team but only earn XP when fighting, so trying to vary the team just results in too many underpowered characters. To put things into perspective, my final team, featuring the only character to have a worthwhile self-healing ability – was many levels higher than the rest.

The lack of balance in the heroes makes having 28 to choose from completely redundant. This is only compounded by the uneven difficulty level that leaves you unable to avoid taking damage in fights. The result is either to switch the heroes out and wait for them to heal or, at best, have two teams in rotation. Neither of these approaches seem to fit with the game’s main selling point. There are arenas to grind XP if you could be bothered, but even these are restricted behind timers. As a result, the whole game is held back by the worst aspects of freemium gaming, despite being a paid title.

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Summary
I persevered with Battle Hunters and finished it (admittedly after dropping the difficulty down) but there wasn’t really a point where I actually enjoyed my experience. The most frustrating thing is that there were moments when it nearly came together in tactical combat, but it was continually held back by the need to rest characters and not sharing XP to non-party members. As a result, this is one adventure in which too many heroes spoil the game.
Good
  • Wide range of heroes
  • Some nice enemy design
Bad
  • A paid game held back by freemium mechanics
  • Most of the heroes suck
  • Dull and simplistic
4
Written by
Just your average old gamer with a doctorate in Renaissance literature. I can mostly be found playing RPGs, horror games, and oodles of indie titles. Just don't ask me to play a driving game.