Have you ever thought to yourself while playing The Sims (don’t lie, we all play it) that it would be so much more fun if you could take control of your character from a first-person perspective instead of purely top-down? Additionally, wouldn't it be fun if when you were done building your home and any other buildings in the town, you actually went adventuring instead of trying to decide if it is more fun to have your Sim pee his or her pants or starve while trying to gain a skill point in painting?
If you answered yes to both of these scenarios, then Heroes of Isaachar is for you!
That is if you can ignore the crippling gameplay elements, the constant crashes, the graphics from 2001, and little to no direction on what the heck is going on.
The game is described on Steam as, “a shooter meshed with a city-builder”, that “requires not only a savvy mind for strategy, but skill with your crossbow to cut down the enemy before they reach your walls”. It is in Early Access, so presumably a lot of the elements that prevented me from enjoying the game may be fixed, but it is also worth noting that the game has been in development for a few years and even has gameplay video from 2013 available on YouTube (which looks much better than the game copy I received, by the way).
After beginning a game in Heroes of Isaachar, and attempting unsuccessfully to change key bindings on the initial launch menu, I found myself watching an intro video about a lost sister and a portal to another world. After the intro I was simply placed in a room that led to another room with a guard, and no instructions. The player model for the guard was standing strangely like it was placed in the room and didn’t fit, which wasn’t that surprising after the pixelated loading screen set my expectations very low for this being a looker. I pressed ‘F’ to interact with this hilarious guard that seemed to be ignoring me… and the game crashed.
Thus began the real journey of Heroes of Isaachar for me. Bugs!
Making it through the dialogue tree, I was teleported to a castle where, presumably, my weapon was stored for retrieval. The game crashed 2 more times in my attempts to make it through the portal to actual retrieve said weapon though, I eventually got it… then my game crashed again. This isn’t something that is uncommon with Early Access games, but this has been the most I have seen.
Once I had my crossbow I set out to make my way in the world, and this all began by walking out the castle door. Unsure of where to go because of a lack of dialogue direction, or mapping elements, I found myself wandering a completely desolate castle in search of even one other person. Spoiler: I didn’t find any. What I did find was the bottom of the river that I couldn’t escape (no swimming mechanic, you just walk on the seafloor), until I found the edge of the map and fell through. This didn’t kill me, but because I was falling indefinitely, I was forced to restart the game again.
Eventually, I made it into the world to test out the combat gameplay, and let me tell you what, it was exactly as underwhelming as you would expect from the other game experiences. There seems to be a limited hit-detection system, no hit reaction from enemies, and you can just run backwards while shooting to defeat any enemy. I did this for a while, running around the completely desolate countryside and shooting at the 5 total enemies I found, until I got bored. I got bored because I literally had no idea what the point of my actions were, and nothing I did seemed to progress the game all. This also seemed to prevent me from accessing the city-building portion of the game, but I couldn’t really tell.
The shining light of this title seems to be the developer's activity level, which is high. They are communicative to feedback and responsive to all that play their game. Sadly, this just isn’t enough reason to purchase it.
I wanted to like this game, mostly because I find myself drawn to tedious city-building games and like to support developers, but this was nothing like what I could have anticipated. It is also strange to me that the game would seemingly go decrease in quality over the last 3 years, which is the only assumption I can make after watching the aforementioned video. This game is bad enough that it is making me rethink any reviews I have ever done, because I don’t trust my rating system anymore.