The Dink Network

Historical Hero II: Armageddon

Avalanches... they tend to happen. Dink receives a letter
October 14th, 2012
1.10
Score : 9.1 exceptional
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Kyle
Peasant Male Belgium
 
I'm going to preface this review by saying two things: I never played the first game, but watched the LP. Furthermore, because of limited spare time I decided to skip a lot of the optional stuff in this d-mod. I can't remember the exact completion percentage but it was not very stellar.

Story:

Dink is sent on a quest to recover an important crystal that was stolen in Old Tutras. Of course, nothing goes as planned and Dink finds himself sidetracked into other heroics. So far, pretty normal for a d-mod. However, the way the story flows is where the game excels. There's never a feeling of doing "useless" things, except maybe a few minor tasks that you are given at the start of the d-mod. And even in those cases, the tasks are brought alive by humorous NPCs. Indeed, just roaming through the first town in the game (a small one) immediately shows the attention that was paid to making the people seem "real" in their current situation.

This brings us to another facet of d-mods that I really enjoy and HH2 does a good job of achieving: setting up a world to play in. Some locations from the first game are revisited (albeit changed) and so there was already some sense of a familiar setting, but from the get go there is a lot of talk of other towns, cities, mountainranges, legends and myths, gossip about problems, etc... You just get the feeling that this d-mod wasn't made on a whim and that a lot of thought was put into how the world functions. Sure, there's not really any huge surprises in the locations that you visit like in Cloud Castle for example, but it feels a lot like an evolved, extended setting of the original Dink Smallwood game. To me, that's a good thing

If I had to give one point of feedback to improve this further it would be to have more characters play a role in the overall story rather than the substories of the particular area. There were quite a few interesting NPCs that I expected would show up again later or would advance the story in meaningful ways, but after finishing their task (if they even had one) they'd be out of the picture. In such cases I would prefer quality over quantity, with deeper personalities and ties to the main story. But I make that gripe about pretty much any game, commercial or not...

Graphics:

Although there's not a large amount of new graphics to be found in HH2, what's there is functional. I think some more community made stuff could have been implemented to spruce up some of the areas or offer more enemy variety, but you'll still be surprised now and then by what was selected to be in the d-mod. There's one particularly funny new graphic set that you'll definitely enjoy The UI has also been touched on and doesn't look out of place like it often does when authors try to skin the status bar. So good job there!

Map decoration, as touched on above, could have been improved. Most outside locations are standard and functional, with grass, trees and rocks (and some water) being responsible for most of the decoration. Dungeons are rather empty though and could do with some more details. Having said that, monster passability is good and I never had any trouble navigating around sticky edges.
The map itself is huge though. I didn't check in the editor but I assume at least 75% of the available map squares have been utilized, maybe even more. This further enhanced the sense of being part of a huge world. I hope Skull will put a little more effort in the decoration (boring as it might get...) to truly invigorate the landscape to encourage more and more exploration.

Sound:

This d-mod has a very large amount of music included and I would say 80% of the tracks fit their locations and events perfectly. Some locations definitely felt better because of the music and none of the tracks really ever detracted from the experience. Most of the music will feel familiar from other media, but that's unfortunately how it is when you're using midis. I hear Skull plays some guitar so I suggest he compososes a song or two for his next d-mod Even crappy self composed songs still bring something truly new and personal to the table.

Gameplay:

Boy this d-mod is hard. Very hard. I never cheated, but sometimes I really wanted to. Having said that, I rarely play d-mods these days so I could just be out of shape. Just be sure to dodge the boss attacks or prepare to load over and over Luckily there's enough savepoints spread around so it never becomes really frustrating. And I do enjoy a good challenge as long as I feel I can overcome it through practice, which I did.
Weapon/Magic wasn't really the focus of this d-mod and you won't be too surprised by any scripting magic, but I also never had the feeling that it should have much more in this area of gameplay. What's there worked well and was well balanced (no iceball, I'm looking at you PotA).

There seemed to be a large amount of optional things to do (the housing was touched on), but as I said I never went too far into that stuff. I might replay this d-mod later on (when a walktrhough is available) to experience all the little sidequests that Skull put in. I did collect as many Honorgems as I could find though, that was very fun. There's also a convenient questlog to keep track of which quests you activated, though the descriptions on these quest entries could have used some more detail. At some points in the story I got stuck and looked to the quest log for guidance, only to read a very vague description of what I'm supposed to do. Letting the player figure out stuff by himself is fine and a design choice, but here and there it could have been more obvious or perhaps just illustrated better in the quest log. The addition of a completion percantage, while arbitrary, is a nice addiotion for the completionists among us... And just depressing for the rest of us

There's one last thing I want to add that Skull did an AMAZING job at, something I always look to in d-mods and gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside: object interaction. Literally no matter what you talk to, punch and sometimes even try to push, there's some line of dialogue to accompany it. Some of it is mundane, some of it is funny, some of it is even disturbing, but god I love that about this game. I can only imagine the amount of time and determination it took to write all of that. It tapers off towards the middle/end of the game but it was still a gigantic success.

Overall:

Historical Hero 2 was a blast to play. I feel that if I had spent more time and less breaks in between play sessions I could have gotten more out of this d-mod, because it just has SO much to offer. The detailed setting, the talkative NPCs, the difficulty, it all comes together to form one big epic d-mod. And make no mistake, it IS epic. As usual there's a few things that could be improved such as the decoration and enemy variety, but none of those issues stopped me from enjoying the game If there's ever a third Historical Hero (the ending I got doesn't rule it out) I'll be one of the first to download and play

Good job Skull on making a d-mod that will go down in history!