Help Athena rebuild Athens after evil sweeps across her land.
In the third installment of the Heroes of Hellas series, we see the once beautiful city of Athens destroyed by raining fire, sent by evil forces. Athena has come to you for help, and has promised to reward you beyond your wildest imagination if you can help rebuild her city to its former glory and save her magical tree to restore her powers. Oedipus will help you along the way through this city-building match three game, which varies little from its predecessors.
Continuing in the footsteps of the first two games, Heroes of Hellas 3: Athens is a match-three game that doesn’t require you to swap gem locations, but rather asks you to click and drag your mouse over groups of three or more like symbols, which rest in hexagons. Making a match of five or more symbols results in a coin, or wild-card that can be used to extend your chains or make otherwise impossible chains valid. Other power-ups appear at random as you play, with more being available in later levels. You’ll see multiple kinds of bombs that destroy surrounding tiles, winged tiles that reveal hidden sections of the grid, or even golden rings that remove all tiles in various directions (including diagonally).
The goals for each level vary, but ultimately require you to collect all of the treasure chests, gems, etc. from the screen, or destroy all of the golden tiles or monoliths. Golden tiles rest underneath symbols and are destroyed automatically when a match is made on top of them, while monoliths block entire portions of the grid, and are destroyed when a match is made that touches one or more of them.
Carrying over from previous installments is the ability to recruit Gods to help you on your journey. Starting with Zeus, you’ll be able to collect tokens or lockets through hidden object scenes that will see one new member being added to your team. These sequences happen automatically during gameplay, and are therefore mandatory. The scenes themselves are simple enough, requiring you to collect the building materials for themed objects and then replace them in the scene proper. While some items are harder to find than others, the hint recharge button fills in a matter of seconds, so you can feel free to use it indefinitely just to move on.
Once you recruit these Gods, the game becomes more complicated as their tiles are added to each level. Collecting enough of them will allow you to use their power (in our Zeus example, he will shuffle all non-locked tiles on the board), with different levels being available in the strength of their power-up depending on how long you store their tiles for future use.
As for restoring Athens, this is accomplished in between most levels. Each basic level (whether playing in the timed or relaxed gameplay mode) rewards you with coins, with those coins being used to purchase homes, gardens, fishing piers, bridges and more for Athens. After every set of upgrades, Athena’s tree will gain more of its life, thus giving Athena more power, but you’ll frequently be stopped by other interruptions that slow the rebuilding process. For instance, the Gates of Hell itself open up in Athens early on (another attempt by the culprit to destroy the town forever), forcing you to collect pieces of an artifact that will allow you to close them. These levels bring in a jigsaw puzzle mini-game as well, but they’re incredibly light in terms of complexity and can be finished in under 30 seconds.
Unfortunately, that can be said about the majority of the game. While there may be tons of content here, each level itself is rather short, and once you finish the game’s story, there really isn’t much to make you come back. Still, returning the light and life to Athens is incredibly satisfying while the campaign lasts, making Heroes of Hellas 3: Athens worth a purchase for those who are fine playing a game just once.