Rimelands: Hammer of Thor Hands-On Preview

Rimelands: Hammer of Thor is an upcoming RPG from the combined talents of the folks at Dicework Games and Crescent Moon Games. We got our grubby mitts on a preview build of this good-looking app and took it for a spin. So what’s it like, you ask?

It’s impressive, to say the least. As the tale goes, back in the 1800s our factories spewed so much filth into the air that soot filled up the sky and an unimaginable chill descended. To survive, humans created Fallout-like vaults and lived underground for a thousand years. When they determined that the planet was livable again, humans resurfaced to find that some people called the fair folk, or fae, had claimed the land. After much bloodshed, a tenuous peace deal was signed, and the groups live more or less happily.

Here’s where you come in. You are Rose Cristo, a tough young woman living under the rule of her stern, demanding grandmother. Grandma, too old to do much of anything herself, sends you down into the abandoned vaults to find treasure. As you play, you’ll also pick up quests from random folks you talk to around town. We didn’t get too far in the storyline, but what we played definitely held our interest.

The fighting in Rimelands feels more like a table-top RPG like Dungeons and Dragons than like a videogame. Combat is based on die rolls, so each time you attack an enemy, dice tumble onto the screen to determine your attack strength. The enemy you’re targeting then rolls in defense. Each die has sides with one skull, two skulls, a shield, or an X. The number of skulls you roll determine how much damage you cause, while the shields are responsible for blocking. The X’s are misses, so they don’t help you out at all. All of the number crunching is handled by the computer, of course, so there’s no math involved for the player. It’s a speedy process, and we got used to it quickly.

You also have mana points, which you can spend to re-roll any dice that don’t land in your favor. So whatever intensity might be lost in the turn-based nature of the battles is made up for by the strategizing you’ll have to do in order to succeed.

In addition to regular attacks, as you level up you can unlock new abilities on three separate skill trees. There’s one for melee combat, one for ranged combat, and one for magic. It’s refreshing that you don’t have to pick a single path and stick with it through the entire game– you can unlock ranged abilities for a while and switch to magic abilities later if you want. This gives the game a very open, customizable feel. Using special abilities during combat also costs mana, so you have to use them sparingly.

As you walk around after a fight, you automatically re-gain whatever hit points and mana you lost, assuming no other enemies are in the vicinity. It might seem like this would make the game a cakewalk, but it doesn’t. The part of the game we played felt very balanced, but we definitely had to use health and mana potions in the middle of battle from time to time.

Speaking of potions, there are tons of items in the game, from weapons and armor to accessories and mechanical parts. You’ll find items in treasure chests, in stores, and on the corpses of fallen enemies. The inventory system is easy to use, and has a decent stat-comparing system to help you determine what to equip. Any unused items can be sold in the stores for extra pocket change.

We could go on and on about the features of this game, but here are some that stood out: The game automatically saves when you close the app. You can move the D-pad to the left side of the screen (for some reason it defaults to the right). There are three save slots, so multiple people can have quests on a single device. There’s a quest log, so you’ll never forget what you’re supposed to be doing. And there are guns in the game, which is rare in fantasy RPGs. More firepower is always a good thing.

So far, Rimelands: Hammer of Thor looks to be shaping up nicely. It’s deep but not overwhelming, full of options for customization, and has just about every convenience you’d want in a game like this. The graphics are great, too. If we had to nitpick, we’d say the script could use a little work, as we found a few typos and weren’t crazy about some of the dialogue. But overall it’s looking very promising. Rimelands should be submitted to the App Store in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for this one.

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