The Hand of Merlin – Preview
Follow Genre: Turn-based, rogue-lite, RPG
Developer: Room C Games, Croteam
Publisher: Versus Evil
Platforms: PC
Tested on: PC

The Hand of Merlin – Preview

Good: Interesting story, Solid gameplay
Bad: The game misses additional voice acting, Making mistakes on the map in choosing your path is final with no way back
User Score
7.5
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

The Hand of Merlin is a turn-based rogue-lite RPG set in a world where the stories of King Arthur meet with sci-fi horror. The world as we know it is being taken over by some otherworldly evil abominations. With narrative bending choices, you will decide your path in a journey from Albion to Jerusalem. As Merlin, you control a band of mortal heroes on a journey to restore the lost fragments of your soul while saving the multiverse from the Cataclysm. The Hand of Merlin is currently still in Early Access, but the game already plays great with almost no bugs in our playthrough.

The Hand of Merlin is set in a world where the Arthurian legend meets sci-fi horror. The well-known wizard Merlin created King Arthur to protect each world in a huge multiverse from the coming Cataclysm. After being trapped by Morgana, King Arthur failed in each world and lesser men took his place, with no powers to be capable of fending off the Cataclysm. Now Merlin sets a band of three heroes on a journey to bring the Grail from Camelot to Jerusalem. After an awesome intro trailer, you start playing the game, and from this point on, the story progresses through a journal. At each node on the map of each land, the journal will pop up where you can read what you encounter and make your choices. Each choice has a different outcome, and there is no way back.

The Hand of Merlin looks pretty good. the main menu functions as a hub where you can check your chosen heroes and look at your Guardian Core. After starting the game, you’ll go through the story in the journal that pops up at each node on the map. With some well-drawn pictures and a fitting font, it certainly fits the game and its era perfectly. The maps you travel on look quite well and in-battle, the surroundings, heroes, enemies and area effects look very good as well. The game could use some extra video material as the scenes you see when progressing from one land to the next are just single pictures of your band on their journey in the same art style as the pictures you see in the journal. A video accompanied by a narrator would’ve been much more suitable.

The game starts with an amazing intro trailer where Merlin tells you the background story of the game, which is accompanied by some great voice acting. This intro certainly makes you eager to play the game. The sounds and effects all sound well and there is nothing wrong in that department. Sadly, after watching the intro trailer, you won’t hear any voice acting throughout the game, which feels like a missed opportunity. The game would definitely benefit from having a narrator who reads all the journal entries on your journey.

The turn-based battles in The Hand of Merlin are fairly easy to handle. Each side gets a turn where each character has two action points that they can use to perform actions like walking or using a skill. When you’ve used up all of your action points, the enemy will automatically start their turn. You don’t have to use up all of your action points as you can also manually end your turn. In The Hand of Merlin, there are currently seven different abominations you’ll encounter on your journey. Aside from the abominations, you can also encounter bandits or thieves, which are much easier to beat as the abominations all have their own special effects that grant them some benefits over you. While the developers state that this is a hard game, we didn’t go through a lot of trouble while playing our first playthrough on the highest setting, but this didn’t make the game less fun at all.

The outcome of your story in The Hand of Merlin is heavily based upon the choices you make on your journey. Each land features a big map full of nodes that eventually form a path to the last node on each map. On these maps, you can only travel forward, not back, so after making a choice you have to follow the path(s) in front of you with no possibility to return. You can’t load a previous game, as there are no manual saves, so you’ll always be stuck with the choices you make. There are a variety of different nodes on each map, with each being a random encounter with friendly people, or enemies. Some will reward you with money, supplies, mana, or even new gear. You’ll also arrive at towns from time to time, where you can upgrade your gear at the blacksmith, buy new relics, or heal yourself at the medic.

In this game, there are nine available characters, of which six are currently locked and will be unlocked after meeting certain conditions in your first run through the game. Among these nine characters, there are three different classes: Warrior, Ranger and Mystic. The Warrior class uses physical attacks that deal a lot of damage and can have extra effects like bleeding, knockback, or power-ups. The Ranger class uses a bow and arrows to deal a lot of damage from a distance and the Mystic uses his magic powers to deal damage and buff his teammates.

Each character class has its own skills, of which two are available when you start the game. By leveling up, you’ll unlock two additional skills to use in combat. When your Warband reaches level four, you will gain the ability to improve your skills with additional effects or more damage. By making some good choices, your Warband can grow very powerful. When you arrive at a city and go to the blacksmith, you can improve your weapons and armor for money. Each character has a health bar and an armor bar. The armor you’ve lost in combat will be restored again, while your health won’t replenish. Luckily, some characters have certain skills to heal your party and when you enter a city, you can go to the medic to heal your team for money.

Conclusion

The Hand of Merlin is a great turn-based rogue-lite RPG and while still being in Early Access, the game plays very well with only one crash in our whole playthrough. The story of this game is very intriguing and got our attention immediately. The game would definitely benefit from a narrator being added to the game as the whole story of the game is experienced by reading through the journal when you arrive at the nodes on the map. The gameplay is solid and the upgrade system of both skills and equipment is very well designed as well. If you like the combination of the Arthurian legend with some sci-fi horror embedded in a turn-based rogue-lite RPG, we’d definitely recommend taking a look at this one. We sure enjoyed our time playing the game and we think with some extra polish this game could very well be a hit.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
The Hand of Merlin - Preview, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
Nickskuh


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1 Comment

  1. […] Independent developer Room C Games in co-production with Croteam and in partnership with indie publisher Versus Evil have revealed 3 new heroes for their rogue-lite RPG game The Hand of Merlin. […]

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