Rimelands: Hammer of Thor Review
When it comes to the setting, role playing games generally fall into one of only a few categories, with the majority being of the swords and sorcery fantasy breed. Rimelands: Hammer of Thor, however, manages to infuse a fantasy world with post-apocalyptic and steampunk elements, to create something unique. The setting helps mask the somewhat generic story, leaving players with a solid but not entirely original RPG experience.
The game takes place thousands of years in the future, on a version of Earth much different than our own. After a new ice age forced people to live in underground vaults, humans eventually discovered the marvels of steam technology. This allowed them to once again live on the surface, only this time they weren’t alone, as the land became inhabited by the faerie people. After a bitter war the two races eventually formed an uneasy truce. But though humans are now living happily above ground, a wealth of treasure still lies in the vaults where they used to dwell.
Which brings us to heroine Rose Cristo. A young treasure hunter, Rose starts out the game searching for a number of different items for her grandmother. What exactly she’s looking for and why she needs to find them, she doesn’t know. She just does what she’s told. But along the way she’ll learn more about her mysterious past and a violent uprising that threatens to throw the world back into war. It’s an epic tale that, unlike most games in the genre, isn’t too heavy on the exposition. In fact, Hammer of Thor features a surprisingly small amount of dialog. This makes many elements of the narrative feel underdeveloped.
The game is made up of a series of quests, some of which are optional, and most of which involve venturing into the vaults to find some sort of treasure. Naturally, the vaults are absolutely teeming with enemies. The game uses a turn-based combat system that’s simple to understand but offers a good amount of depth. Nearly all of your actions are controlled via a virtual d-pad. This not only controls your movement, but also melee attacks. As your character evolves you’ll also have access to different abilities, spells, and ranged attacks. What’s great about the combat is that it is controlled by virtual dice roles, which determine whether or not your attacks or blocks are successful. You can use mana points to re-roll, and the whole mechanic gives the game a nice old school feel.
There are three different paths you can take when it comes to developing Rose: barbarian, assassin, and shaman. You aren’t confined to choosing just one, however. Instead, you can learn abilities from each path, creating a character that can use melee, ranged, and magic attacks all at once. There’s also quite a bit of weaponry and gear that you can find on your treasure hunts and you can even craft your own by finding the right materials. Between skills and gear, Hammer of Thor gives you a lot of freedom with how you customize your character.
With a solid 3D engine and some nifty special effects, Hammer of Thor is certainly a good looking game, though the character designs leave something to be desired. But for all of its technical prowess, the game suffers from a lot of visual repetition. All of the vaults look essentially the same, as does most of the snow covered above ground areas. Similarly, most the enemies you’ll face are simply palette swaps of one another, with only a few unique designs. In fact, some of the bad guys are actually spitting images of Rose herself.
But in spite of this, Hammer of Thor is a solid and enjoyable RPG. It may be slightly generic in a number of respects, but it’s easy to find yourself losing hours of your life thanks to the excellent combat system and in-depth character customization options. The story may not grab you, but the fun and addictive gameplay certainly will.