Heroes of Kalevala

Universal Rating: 4+

Heroes of Kalevala is a game from 10tons Ltd, originally released 17th September, 2010


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Heroes of Kalevala Review

Ever get the unsettling feeling that God moves humanity like pieces in his own little chess game? And do you occasionally lust for that ability to move people to your liking and say, “Ha ha?” Good news: With MythPeople’s Heroes of Kalevala, you can bargain the well-being of your very own civilization on a Match-3 game a la Bejeweled. It’s not as traditional as gambling the future of the human species on a chess game with the Devil, but it’s a heck of a lot more fast-paced and fun.

Heroes of Kalevala is based very loosely on an epic Finnish poem. You take up the role of a tribe leader whose people are displaced by a drought, and must try their luck in the uncharted world of Kalevala. After establishing one town, you’re encouraged to build up others. Building up towns requires money, which unlocks new structures and provides basic necessities like houses and happy little trees that keep townspeople from sliding into depression. And earning that dosh comes from playing the Match-3 game that forms the core of Heroes of Kalevala.

Grid your loins.

This type of Match-3 game should be familiar for fans of the puzzle genre, though Heroes of Kalevala adds more than a few of its own little twists to keep things interesting. Winning a round of Match-3 requires turning all the yellow tiles into blue tiles by matching symbols, but it’s not always that simple.

Hazards impede your progress, including ice, boulders, and bubbling pits of tar. Worse, your neighbor in Kalevala is a witch who’s not keen on sharing her real estate. Her pet crow travels the border of each board, slowly setting fire to the perimeter. If you don’t clear a board before it all burns up, it’s game over.

Luckily, the gods and heroes of the Kalevala epic are on-hand to help you clear your boards. As you progress further in the game, you unlock more heroes. These talented dudes and dudettes serve as deux ex machinas: Matching up three of their symbols is often what pushes you over to victory just as the last few seconds are counting down.

A new kind of pudding.

Don’t feel bad about enlisting the help of the gods, because Heroes of Kalevala doesn’t waste any time introducing you to some pretty difficult puzzles. You’ll get stuck often, and when you do, the world-building aspect of the game grinds to a halt. This is admittedly frustrating. You’ll curse and flail, but in the end you’ll be compelled to give that one stubborn puzzle another try. And more often than not, you’ll become unstuck.

Building up your villages between rounds of Match-3 is a relaxing way to catch your breath, and may well bring back memories of an old SNES classic, Actraiser. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much interaction between the villages as there could be. With a few exceptions, whatever resources you earn for one village usually can’t be transferred to another.

Though world building in Heroes of Kalevala isn’t exactly on the level of Civilization, it doesn’t need to be. The simple act of buying houses, laying them down, and besting that bloody crow for more coins is a richly satisfying experience on its own. If you have the patience and tenacity to stick with the game through its slower, more frustrating moments, you’ll be lording over your own nation in no time.