Warhammer by Games Workshop is a gaming world that’s close to the hearts and minds of geeks the world over. Started in the early ’80s, Warhammer is a fantasy adventure table-top game that shares many of the same Tolkienesque tropes that Dungeons & Dragons does. But its potent mix of player interactivity and a world that’s darker and grittier than D&D’s have given Warhammer fans a violent, dangerous and enthralling experience that many still love today.
Warhammer: Quest was a spinoff game that debuted in the mid-nineties, and while it didn’t last for very long, its focus on loot and treasure created a fervent fanbase that still loves the game. Now Rodeo games, the makers of the excellent Hunters game franchise, has brought new life to the long lost series by way of one of the best dungeon-crawling, looting, Orc-smashing, strategy titles the iOS has ever seen.
Warhammer: Quest follows the trials and tribulations of a group of four adventurers (a barbarian, a dwarven warrior, an elven archer, and a mage) as they travel underneath the lands of the “Old World” in the their never ending quest for treasure, loot, and more treasure. They’ll travel to a bunch of villages that dot the landscape, performing odd quests like smiting terrible evils, rescuing wayward donkeys, and searching for ancient artifacts, all the while grabbing their own piles of plunder. All of their adventuring will take them to the deepest dungeons, the dankest caves, and chilliest cellars, as most of their jobs require them to go where few other would dare to tread.
If you’ve played Rodeo’s Hunter games before, then the presentation here will be instantly recognizable, and if you’ve actually played the original Warhammer: Quest board game, then its digital counterpart will make you feel right at home. It’s a top-down, turn-based fantasy strategy game that looks identical to an actual Warhammer: Quest table setting. Everything from the skeleton-laced dungeons to the spider infested shrines look like they jumped from the table to your iPad and received a gorgeous digital sheen to boot. The dungeons are richly illustrated in all of their scummy glory, the characters are well animated (the dwarf even has a funny beard that sways as he swings his weapon), and spell effects are appropriately awesome to look at. In a nice touch, you can pinch your fingers to zoom in and out and spin the “table” around to get a better look at things. This is necessary sometimes to get a better feel for how you’re going to do things.
Rodeo even did something unique with the inventory system that I like a lot. To access your swag, you don’t just hit a button. Instead, you turn your device to portrait mode to bring up the inventory screen. This has the awesome effect of actually making you feel like you’re taking out your pack and looking inside. This tiny bit of interactivity does a lot to bring gamers into the world and makes you feel like you’re doing more than just controlling a bunch of puppets.
But shiny and awesome presentation doesn’t make a lick of difference if the strategy and gameplay isn’t up to snuff, and we’re happy to say that Quest is an elegant and immersive experience that will give you hours upon hours of spider squashing, Orc bashing, donkey hunting fun. Heck, we spent over five hours just in the first town alone, and there are seven towns to go through! Some purists may balk at the simplified and stripped down Warhammer experience (there is no dice rolling or character customization, for example) but Quest does an admirable job of using Rodeo’s streamlined strategic interface and bringing it into the Warhammer world.
Even though the characters are all pretty typical, they’re a lot of fun to use. Each character has unique abilities and attributes, and as they level up they gain even more special capabilities. The archer may kind of stink in the early stages, but level him up and he’ll gain special powers that help with his shooting. The marauder can go into a berserker rage that gives him more powerful attacks (and can sometimes even paralyze him). Each character brings something special to the table, and figuring out the best way to utilize them is all part of the fun. Planning ahead is also a necessity, because this game can be hard.
If we had one major sore point with the game, it’s the fact that there is indeed an in-app purchase system in the game. We have no problem with the idea of buying the two additional characters (although the price is a little steep for them) as this is a pretty typical aspect in modern iOS games. No, what we have a problem with is gold. Gold is obviously the main currency in the game, and you use it for everything, even leveling up. The problem is that you never seem to get enough of it, which is odd given that this is a loot-based game. You can do a lot of grinding to get around this or buy more gold with real money, but then you’ll come across a random encounter with some creature that’ll steal from you. Why would anyone want to spend actual cash in a game that’s supposed to be focused on loot, and where you can randomly have that gold you stolen from you? It just seems a little backwards.
Luckily, as is the case with most loot-based games, the best equipment and treasure is going to be the stuff you find while questing anyway. We honestly only ever used gold to buy healing and to level up, but the IAP system is still a curious addition.
Rodeo has done an amazing job with Warhammer Quest. It’s far more than just a reskinned version of Hunters, as they’ve managed to make us feel like we’re really traveling and fighting through the Warhammer world. With all of the lore, characters, towns and dungeons seemingly ripped from the pages of an old players handbook, Warhammer Quest is a game that will give you all of those warm and fuzzy feelings you used to get from your former (or current) days of painting miniatures. Yes, it’s a simplified version of Warhammer, but this is still Warhammer in all of it’s goblin-hacking glory and it’s a heck of a lot of fun.