IGM Aus: Hands On With ‘Frozen Hearth’
This week on IGM Aus, we’re taking a closer look at an upcoming release from Australian studio Epiphany Games, the Real Time Strategy that is Frozen Hearth.
I used to play Age of Empires a fair bit way back when, a game that had that addictive quality I’m always searching for, something that really gets you sucked into the world to just play one more game. The good news for Frozen Hearth is that it feels much the same, so if you’re an RTS fan like I am there’s plenty to look forward to.
Frozen Hearth combines a few different elements and rolls them into one. You’ll get your RTS options such as unit and building creation and upgrades. Along side this you have a hero unit that involves character progression not unlike an RPG. The story has a lot of RPG like lore attached to, the supernatural Shangur introducing themselves early on in the story. Your mission is to face off with this deadly foe and force them back in order to save the Danaan in the process.
You’ll begin the game by selecting your chosen hero similar to how you would choose a class in, say Diablo. With that out of the way you’ll have to build your units around you as each quest begins. To do that you’ll need to capture certain points on the map that will provide the materials needed to create said units.
It’s far more streamlined than the good old days, no need to create hundreds of villagers in order to mine stone or chop wood. Here it’s all automated, though I can see things getting hectic when defending your captured points from invading forces, especially in multiplayer. Hectic in a good way like the flurry of battle.
What’s an RTS without improvements to your base? There’s a ton of options to upgrade your forces and add the likes of archers or spell casters to your forces. I have a habit of just highlighting everything and going in all guns blazing, but those much smarter than me will be able to maintain a better level of unit progression and movement. Archers can be kept back to provide rear guard support whilst the heavies run forward, for example.
Then there’s the hero unit itself, who can change the face of the battle with one sweeping move. There’s so many upgrades and options available within this unit alone, at times it can be a little overwhelming. If that’s the case when you pick the game up don’t panic. There’s a neat tutorial mode that breaks things down as simple as possible by highlighting each area of the on screen menu and giving you a breakdown of every element of the game.
I will say this from what I’ve played so far: Early on the visuals are a little simple in appeal, but as you delve deeper into the experience you’ll see a lot more detail, especially in the environments. The artwork, too, is extremely impressive. You can tell how much time and thought has been put into the very deep back story. There’s some nice little touches, like the ability to zoom right in on the action without the frame rate skipping a beat.
Now unfortunately I haven’t tested the multiplayer as yet. Such is the way with previews where there’s no players to compete against. Having said that, the options available look good (allow fellow IGMer Alex to fill you in) and then there’s also the co-op story mode to play through. A neat addition and certainly something you don’t always see in an RTS. For an indie title, there’s actually a ton of content to get through and that’s a fantastic thing that Epiphany have thought long and hard about that.
To put some perspective on Frozen Hearth, Epiphany Games may be a small studio but they are packed with experience. Having worked on a number of previous iOS and Android titles over the years. Frozen Hearth is also one part of a much larger whole. With two other games in development and one already released (the really cool Runic Rumble) that take place within the same world. If that isn’t ambitious, I don’t know what is!
Frozen Hearth will be released on November 29th for PC. If my time with the early build is any indication, there’s plenty to like about it. While the release looms closer, why not show your support for Epiphany by approving their Steam Greenlight campaign. Meanwhile, I’ll see you online for some multiplayer skirmishes!
If you’re an Aussie Indie developer looking to get your game out there or have something special to say, get in touch with me via email, twitter or on the IGM forums and you could see your story on IGM Aus.