What’s the last tactical SRPG you played? I’m not talking about games such as Phantom Doctrine or XCOM, I mean games like Heroes of Might and Magic (HoMM) in which you travel across a map and engage in single-screen tile-based warfare? It seems like this particular style isn’t very popular as I can’t think of any games outside of the brilliant aforementioned Heroes of Might and Magic series which actually use mechanics like this. Well, that was until I was given the chance to take a look at the Braveland Trilogy on the Nintendo Switch.
The Braveland games may look and play like mobile phone games yet they were simultaneously released on both mobile devices and PC upon their original debut. Although, the iOS and Android optimisations and ease of play are clearly evident in all versions of the games. However, don’t let the visual design or what you ‘think’ the game is going to be like put you off, the Braveland Trilogy relit my love for this particular genre and are among my favourite Nintendo Switch titles I own so far. Let’s find out why…
As you’ll most likely gather from the name, the Braveland Trilogy contains three games in one package. Each game is presented as a new story within the game, all running independently from one another with their own heroes, creatures, enemies, mechanics, and abilities. You can also choose to play whichever you want in whatever order you please, but the game does warn you that it recommends you play them in order. I’m not quite sure why as I’ve not experienced any overlapping story, but the game does get more advanced as you progress through each story.
So, what are the three stories you’ll be engaged with?
• First, we have a tale of a humble warrior’s son whose village was raided. It’s your task to join up with multiple allies and seek revenge as you go from being a very weak and reserved individual, who is fueled by rage, to a strong and powerful commander who can command his mighty army.
• Next, we venture into the fantastical as we enter the world of wizards and witchcraft! As a new graduate from the Academy of Magic, you set out to prove yourself and engage in your biggest adventure yet. Venture through various magical lands as you pull together a group of allies as you take down orcs, ghosts, and other foul beasts.
• Finally, we take for the seas as we become a mighty pirate, yarrrr! On your way to discovering great treasures, your ship is capsized and you wash up on the beach. Reunite with your crew members, and hire more at the various Inns, as you take on the undead, evil pirates, and monsters who will stop at nothing to stop you finding the treasure.
Each story will take you around six hours each, so there’s a lot of content to work your way through. Let’s look at the similarities and differences you’ll encounter…
The core gameplay and mechanics of the Braveland Trilogy are very similar within each of the three games. As the game is essentially a mobile game, don’t expect anything too deep. Whereas in HoMM you would be traversing around an open area, moving freely until you entered combat, the Braveland games simply have a map which you move around, from point to point. You’re often given the chance to branch off and travel down a different direction, but there is ultimately only one way you can go as all side exits lead to treasure, more battles or new allies. But, don’t let the simplicity put you off, it works in the game’s favour.
As I play my Switch in handheld mode more than in docked, having a simple map made the game much easier and quicker to play through in short bursts here and there. It also makes the game a lot more straight forward and accessible for people of all ages – although hard-core fans of the genre may think it’s a little too basic.
So, as you move to the next point on your map, you’ll either be greeted by a new ally, be ambushed by an enemy, encounter a building where you can spend your money for skills or new team members, or it’ll be some story exposition. This is the same in all the games although they each have their own twist on what buildings you’ll encounter, the latter two games have infinite dungeons you can work through, and the final game even has you travelling between various islands via boat.
The combat is the main mechanic of the game which drew me in like a kid to candy! It’s essentially a watered down HoMM. Once you engage in combat, you’re placed on a hexagonal gridded battlefield with your team on the right and the enemy on the left. You then take it in turns as you command your units with a few standard options. You can move fully and nothing else, move partially and then block or attack, simply attack, or use either the unit’s or your own special move. The whole combat sequence is a numbers game, if your attack is higher than an enemies defence, then you’ll take off more damage, if you attack a certain number of times, then you can unleash your special attack, and if you use your units powerful attack, it’s a case of waiting for a few turns for it to replenish.
Also, just like HoMM, you can have a team of five individual units yet that doesn’t mean you only have five units on the battlefield. You can purchase or acquire more of the same unit and they’ll stack on top of each other until you hit the maximum allowed at that point in the game. This means you may have three units with you but they could essentially be made up of 15 individual units each – this both increases their health and attack. As you progress through the game, you’ll actually get help from more units than you can take with you into battle so you need to juggle things around and swap out units in order to ensure you have the best team for the battle at hand.
Now, one thing I absolutely loved about the Braveland Trilogy is the battle completion screen and how the game handles the death of your units. Let’s say you had three groups with fifteen units in each, yet ten of each unit were slaughtered within the fight. Instead of the game telling you to “do one” and only leaving you with five units in each group, it deducts a small amount out of your winnings and uses that to resurrect all of your fallen allies. This means that after each successful fight, you get all of your team back. Once again, this is catering to the more casual gamer and people new to the genre.
There is one major difference between all three games in the Braveland Trilogy, progression. The first game doesn’t really have any progression as it keeps it very basic and simple. When you earn enough experience, you can choose whether you wish to enhance your defence, knowledge or attack by one point (you’re given a choice of two at a time). Other than that, the only other progression you’ll see is finding higher levelled units to take into combat with you.
However, the second game introduces a rather simplistic skill tree. Each time you level up you’ll get a few ‘talent points’ which can be reserved or spent within this tree. A lot of the options are your usual point increase like they were in the first game, but some of them do more productive things like increasing the amount of gold you win or doubling the chance you’ll get a critical hit. This helped add a new level of strategy into the game as you now had to think carefully about where you wish to spend your points because you can’t refund them.
The third game takes the skill tree from the second game and ramps it up a notch. Now, you have a multi-path skill tree in which your choices matter even more than last time! You have three main ‘talent’ trees, Attack, Defence and Magic. They contain a few double options and some single – when you have a double option, you can only pick one of them as the one you don’t pick gets disabled from the game. It’s as if each game takes the previous game’s interpretation of the ‘talents’ and spins it into something ever so slightly different in order to keep things fresh.
I really enjoyed playing through all three of these games as each one progressively added more to the experience even though they all visually look pretty much the same. It’s like a feeling of deja vu yet with enough differences to keep you hooked throughout the new adventure.
That’s right, the Braveland Trilogy has a multiplayer ‘Duel’ mode which you can access from the main menu. Here, you can grab a couple of controllers or two individual Joycons, and you can battle your friend in local multiplayer. You get to pick which hero you wish to play as but the units you’ll be commanding are pre-determined by the game. It’s a shame there isn’t any support for an online version of this, or even just you vs the CPU for practising purposes, but it is nice that the devs included this mode so you can play against your friends and family.
One last thing to mention, which I don’t mention too often, the Braveland Trilogy supports nine languages! English, German, French, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Russian. So, if you’re looking for a game and you speak any of those, this game has you covered.
Okay, I have to talk about the stand out feature which made me instantly want to play this game, before I even realised what the combat mechanic was going to be like, the visuals! Everything is so darn cute and full of charm! I love the simplistic and minimalistic look the game has with its bold colours and very simple faces, yet when you combine the sharp characters with the environmental visuals, it’s like I’m playing a children’s illustrated storybook! As I previously mentioned, the game feels like it’s been purposely created to allow anyone of all ages and skill levels to jump in and enjoy the experience, the visuals further emphasise that to me.
The intro to each game is also presented as nicely drawn scenes which depict the tale which is being told. I just really enjoyed the aesthetic of the game, it also looks great on both the TV and in the handheld mode as the switch is more than powerful enough to run this particular game at full speed and quality throughout.
Audio-wise, the Braveland Trilogy has a selection of very appropriate music tracks which vary based on the game your playing, from what I could tell. The First game sounds like you’re a hero on an adventure, the second is more mystical and the final one is piratey, as you’d expect. I never grew tired of the music and I found myself humming along after playing for a few hours. There isn’t any voice acting, which is to be expected as it is an indie game which was primarily a small mobile and Steam release, but it would have been nice to have some voices in there.
I was going to mention here that there is actually a fourth game, which recently hit Steam, but after looking into it a bit more, it appears the developers have gone to the dark side. Based on comments on the Early Access title, the game ramps up in difficulty too fast and the PC version has the same microtransactions which the mobile version contains. So, I’m more than happy only having these three on the Switch as I’m not a bit fan of games which rely on iAPs.
The Braveland Trilogy has filled a genre hole which I never realised I had until I started playing it. Taking the core combat mechanics from the classic Heroes of Might and Magic series, then modernising it into a more simplified and accessible format so that anyone can play, I love that this rather niche genre is out there for everyone to try out. As you work your way through all three of the six-hour adventures, you’ll progressively gain access to more advanced skill trees, new special attack, more detailed units, and a much bigger world. It’s absolutely perfect for playing in short bursts yet also great for long sessions as it keeps things fresh with all the enhancements and new units you’ll encounter.
Considering Heroes of Might and Magic has never come to consoles, the Braveland Trilogy is the next best thing and I’m happy to say that it’s a great alternative. Sure, it lacks the depth of the HoMM series, but it more than makes up for it with the cute visuals, the comedic narrative, the solid combat, and the amount of choice on offer for strategic operations.
I’ve also taken a look at the collection over on the PS4, HERE.
- - Three games at around six hours each
- - Solid combat mechanics which are kept fresh with the inclusion of new units and abilities
- - Catchy music and cute aesthetics
- - Two player local Duel mode
- - Difficulty levels to satisfy everyone
- - Duel mode is local only
- - On the harder difficulties it does seem like the difficulty scales up faster than your levelling
- - No 'Survival mode' which is in the PS4 edition
- - This version is more expensive than the PS4 version