Review – The Hearts of Men

The Hearts of Men, from Coltran Studios, then.

It’d be nice to review it without reference to a certain other game, but it’s completely impossible. The Hearts of Men is very, very Gauntlet-like.

But, at the same time, it’s also Gauntlet-lite. Not in terms of content, because there’s loads of that here, but in terms of difficulty. Gauntlet is relentless from level one and near impossible the further in you go. The Hearts of Men can still be very difficult, but there’s much more opportunity for fun before the onslaught.

The main problem you’ll have with THoM is having no friends. Like Gauntlet, the game is much better played with more players and indeed, in single player it can be quite awkward. The main attack of each of the four characters is a barrage of projectiles fired straight ahead of them, in whatever direction they’re facing. This means that running away from enemies and attacking them at the same time is impossible, and in small areas it makes the boss fights more difficult where they wouldn’t be if you had a friend to distract the boss.

In a way, though, that just makes it more satisfying when you take enemies down, especially bosses which are very, very pleasurable to take down on your own. Maybe the problem is having people to play with. Either way, however you’d like to play it, however difficult you’d like it to be, there’s an option for you.

You’ve got four classes of character to choose from when you start the game. Warrior, Wizard and Elf are all very similar. The wizard has a slightly lower rate of fire but has a more powerful attack and so they all perform about the same. The Viking, though, has a decent rate of fire and is ridiculously powerful, it also has the best special move (activated by collecting blue potions) and is the character of choice, without doubt.

Once you’ve chosen your character, and after a short story sequence, you’re thrown head first into the action, which takes place top-down over a series of maze-like areas. You just have to progress and progress, defeating everything in your path until you get to, well, the end. Collecting potions allows special moves to be used, and also allows for healing. There’s a boss every few levels and it’s advisable to stock these up, if you can, especially if you’re playing on your own.

There are a couple of issues with the game. Progress is made by collecting keys and moving through gates to further into the level. Sometimes though, you’ll wander up to a gate with a key in hand and will be told you don’t have the key, and it’ll turn out that it’s for some other gate. It’s odd, and the game could really use some colour coded keys to avoid such problems.

There’s also a very peculiar map which is accessed via the back button. Peculiar in that it doesn’t reveal any landmarks or nearby items, and only shows your your direct surroundings (which you can see on the screen anyway). It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose whatsoever.

Importantly, though, the game’s still fun. There’s loads of content and it offers a real challenge in single player mode and a fun, more chilled out experience when you’ve got friends over.

The Hearts of Men is available now for 80 Microsoft Points.

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3 Responses to Review – The Hearts of Men

  1. Wow, fantastic review!! Thank you for all the feedback, we’ll definitely be updating the key/lock issue, and looking into a way to make the map more effective for players. And the rest, brilliant (what can I say, I’m biased :O ) Thanks again for taking the time to review, it means everything to us 😀

  2. Sounds interesting, but it also sounds a tad unfinished almost. It’s in my download que…

    • JZielinski says:

      Chris, what you said was true! We went back and worked on the game alot in the last 3 months, we’re quite excited to share. We pulled the original version of the game, and are looking to release the new game sometime between august and september. Thanks for queing us up, we’ll be giving out free keys when release time rolls around, if you or anybody you know may be interested!

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