I’m a fairly big advocate for free to play games. I’ll happily split my time between various games that use energy systems, without worrying too much about any restrictions. BattleHand makes me wish for an ecosystem that wasn’t so reliant on them though, and I can’t decide if it’s because its energy system is so limited or simply because I’m enjoying what I’m playing too much to want to stop. I’m pretty sure it’s a little of both.
Part card game, part turn based RPG, BattleHand is a somewhat familiar format that uses the genre’s tropes well. You play your way through various stages, frequently unlocking new quests and bonuses to entice you into doing more. It might be cliched but it’s still pretty fun to negotiate. It’s also quite gorgeous to look at with visuals that look far superior to what you’d usually expect for the genre. Throw in its great trickle feeding approach, making you feel like you can achieve a lot in a short space of time, and BattleHand initially, has plenty going for it.
Combat is, obviously, the main part of the game. You’re given a selection of cards to choose what move to unleash upon your enemy. Simply tap on a card and it’ll inform you of what it actually does, but it’s all fairly self explanatory. Once you’ve decided, drag the card to your enemy and the attack is performed at the end of your turn. It’s simple stuff, and that’s the approach that works so well for BattleHand. There’s a tutorial but it’s all pretty intuitive. Even better, for the impatient gamer like me, you can whack the speed up to full and complete turns even faster.
Where BattleHand gets a little more involved is outside of combat. You acquire new cards after each successful mission and these can be used to level up existing moves. It’s still a fairly simple concept so you don’t need to get too bogged down with the details, but it’s enough to make you feel in control of your destiny. You can hire new heroes too, bolstering your strength and being fairly essential to any lengthy progression. Concentrating on having different elements available to you soon becomes vital too, with the usual combination of water defeating fire, and so forth, ensuring that this is familiar territory once again.
That’s also where BattleHand’s lack of balance weighs in a bit. At times its difficulty level spikes pretty drastically, meaning you’ll have to grind a lot to get up to scratch. That wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the aforementioned stingy energy system. Generally you can only complete a few battles at a time before having to wait for the energy meter to recharge. That’s pretty annoying when you’re on a roll and want to keep battling. It’s a customary element of any free to play game, but this one feels more harsh than others.
It’s great having so much available to you, with BattleHand certainly packing in plenty of content. However, it feels artificially extended by that cumbersome way of dealing with energy. It’s deep enough to make you want to play for a long time, but instead it’s casual gamers that will glean the most benefit, being able to dip in and out for a fight or two. Still, at least it’s a cut above the rest in many of the ways that count.