I bought Hellenica, a game made by The Dragonloft, on a whim. Hellenica is an SRPG that takes place in a steampunk ancient Greece setting. Seeing it on the front page of Steam, I noticed it had a striking similarity to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. Final Fantasy Tactics is my second favourite game of all time (next to Final Fantasy IX), so seeing a game like Hellenica come out intrigued me enough to check it out. The sprite-work, map design and grid-based battle system are all reminiscent of the two SRPGs I mentioned, but unfortunately, the game left me feeling that it was a poor attempt to attract the audiences of these games through visual only.
Hellenica starts up with a campfire scene as the menu’s backdrop. What I first noticed was that the water tiles in the river had no animation or life to them. They were completely still, and this carried on into the opening cut-scene where the developers had clearly tried to include was looked like fountains–a feature that should include a resemblance of moving water. This was the first clue that I was walking into an unpolished game.
The opening scene featured two characters meeting for the first time in the woods. The archer girl, for some reason decides she will travel with this stranger at the campfire and go on an adventure. The protagonist (a woman who also transforms into a bear), banters with the archer girl for a bit and then is forced to travel with her after they are jumped into a battle together.
The first battle opens up and the player is given no option for a tutorial. Feeling a little lost, it took me some time just to figure out how to move the characters and move the camera. I also discovered that the battles are less turn-based and more “every party member moves all at once in whatever order you want”. It was clear that speed and initiative were not features of this game. The music was also very underwhelming and did not fit with the mood of the battle.
After this, the player is pushed straight into a town with no warning, and transferred to a backdrop where you click on character portraits to talk to NPCs. The characters spoke to an NPC, had an option to move on in the story, and then suddenly the same NPC was in our party and we were engaging in another battle. As I progressed in this next battle, I also discovered that the enemies do not move until you get close enough to them.
I refused to play anymore passed this and requested a refund (something I do not do lightly). It is possible to get some enjoyment out of the battles in this game, but overall, the game in unpolished and does not match the price point ($21.99) that the developers try to sell it for on Steam.
Hellenica is a game that tries to ride the bandwagon of games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre and fails miserably. There is no pacing in the story, the characters fall flat, and it looks and feels overall unpolished.