Dawn of Heroes Preview

By Adam Ma on May 3, 2010, 5:00PM EDT

The Kingdom of Brimthule is not in a very good place right now. Its king has sacrificed himself to stop a monster, his land has been flooded with curses and dark creatures, and the barons that worked under the good king's rule have now mysteriously turned evil. Dawn of Heroes does a decent job in setting up a world filled with chaos and destruction, which is really all the motivation a player needs to go out into the world and start fixing/killing things.

Dawn of Heroes is a turn-based strategy RPG for the Nintendo DS that prides itself on its 3D graphics, character customization, and of course gameplay. Anyone familiar with games like Fire Emblem, Advance Wars or Front Mission should be familiar with how the game plays, as the combat system looks like a very simplified version of those more complex titles. The top DS screen takes care of all the fancy 3D graphics, attack animations, and overall battlefield layout, while the bottom shows more strategic information such as attacks and unit placement. It's an interesting breakup that allows for fancier looking animations to occur on the top screen, while putting all the more relevant technical data on the bottom so that players may feel like they're less distracted by too much information.

The game also allows for a reasonable amount of character customization as they form an army to march across the land, allowing for changes in colours and insignias. Naturally each character obtained also has equipment and abilities to micromanage, leaving for a lot of possibilities in army creation. Provided there are a lot of skills to learn and use the game could actually have a significant amount of depth and longevity to it, which would be the most important aspect to any RPG.

Despite how many things may look up for this title, there are a few aspects that make might be genuinely concerning. First and foremost being the streamlined interface breakup between combat and the animations. It'll be difficult to predict how much fun the game will be without actually getting to see how much action can be taken from the bottom screen, such as switching between characters, looking at the future turns, or any of those other little nuances.

The second issue may be more of a personal one, but the character design (while definitely unique) feels very tacky and done more because this is a DS title (and thus requires the art direction be less serious) rather than because it fits the world. The story is said to boast a lot of humour however, so perhaps if everything is taken tongue-in-cheek the entire presentation will be easier to handle. It would be nice to learn that the art direction wasn't meant to be a cutesy gimmick, but only a real playthrough of the game will be able to show that for sure.

How linear the storyline is and how easy the quests are to complete will be a deal breaker for some, but honestly it would be refreshing to just have a combat system that really works well. It will also be interesting to see how the multiplayer works for Dawn of Heroes, since not too many RPGs boast head-to-head combat or item trading - though the few that do have also been, curiously enough, turn-based.

Overall Dawn of Heroes looks like it could be offering some pretty decent gameplay, especially if the game is as deep as it claims to be. Creating an interesting RPG can be a daunting task, particularly on the DS which is far better known for its platformers. Wicked Studios has done a good job in making the game uniquely identifiable at least, and is definitely worth a second look if just to see how things turned out.

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