Familiarity they say breeds contempt, and few recent games have reinforced this statement more than Limbic Entertainment’s Might and Magic Heroes VII, a competent but thoroughly uninspiring entry into the popular series.
The game’s story revolves around Duke Ivan Griffin, as he discusses and considers political and military strategy in the face of a crumbling empire. In turn his six advisors from the Human (Haven), Wizard (Academy), Elf (Sylvan), Orc (Stronghold), Undead (Necropolis) and Dark elf (Dungeon) factions tell stories of old battles to provide guidance. It’s a reasonably clever way to tell a story and allows logical progression through the six factions. It’s a shame then that the story itself is entirely forgettable. This isn’t helped by the poorly drafted and obviously rushed cutscenes, where the only thing stiffer than the freeze-frame characters is the stilted voice acting.
Unless you’re playing Metal Gear or Final Fantasy however, you’re more interested in actual gameplay rather than cutscenes. Again, unfortunately, you may be in for disappointment. If you’ve played previous games of the series – especially Might & Magic: Heroes VI – then all you need to know is that the seventh is basically identical, just a little less polished.
Gameplay revolves around the all-too-familiar trudge of building a town, recruiting an army, fighting monsters, collecting resources, levelling up heroes, and repeating ad nauseam. Perhaps if this was the first entry in the series it would be considered an innovative albeit repetitive game, but as the VII in the name suggests, it’s not exactly fresh. And it feels like it too.
Whilst the game has six factions, the difference in actual gameplay is negligible. Graphics obviously are different, and there’s no doubt Might & Magic Heroes VII is generally a very visually attractive game. Whilst the factions have distinct units, in practice there isn’t a huge difference in how combat plays out, with almost all fights decided on pure number of forces, supplemented by the hero’s abilities. That’s not to say combat isn’t fun; there’s still plenty of tactical choices to be made and there’s a real feeling of achievement when beating an opposing army with few or no losses. It’s just very, very repetitive.
To be honest, playing Might & Magic Heroes VII quickly becomes a chore. In small doses of say an hour at a time, it’s a decent diversion from the daily grind of life. In anything longer than that, it becomes the very grind you’re seeking to escape.
This is reinforced by the lack of real choice in the game: while hero skills allow for a good degree of customisation, town and army building still comes down to waiting until you’ve accumulated enough resources to purchase everything available. It feels like Limbic Entertainment really missed an opportunity to give players more choice, such as offering twelve different types of units but limiting an army to eight for example. More choices could have led to better customisation and probably some very interesting synergies between different types of armies and hero builds, but as it stands we’ll never know.
There’s also disappointment for players who enjoy the Demon (Inferno) and Dwarven (Fortress) factions, with both failing to make it into the game.
In a positive move, the hero skill wheels have been simplified and better laid out, making progression of hero abilities much easier to plan. A new “Governor” mechanic allows a hero to be allocated as the leader a controlled city which leads to flow on bonuses such as boosted experience or stats. These are nice additions, but the fact they’re the only “innovations” in the game is all potential players need to know about the originality of Limbic Entertainment’s latest release.
For those players who are in love with the series, and there are many out there, Might & Magic Heroes VII is a perfectly decent addition to the family. It doesn’t really offer anything new, but follows a tried and true formula that’s clearly popular enough to have gained legions of fans worldwide. For new players interested in dipping their toes into the Might and Magic Heroes pool for the first time, Might & Magic: Heroes VI with full DLC is a larger, cheaper and more polished entry in the series. This one is strictly for fans only.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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