There aren’t many games on mobile that perfectly marry the concept of a dungeon crawl with party management and world exploration. Warhammer Quest, from Rodeo Games is a perfect example of this done right, with gamers treated to the kind of title you can drop in and out of for short room-by-room exploration sessions or settle into a meatier period of dungeon crawling.
Based around the board game of the same name, itself a successor to ‘Hero Quest’ and ‘Advanced Hero Quest’, Rodeo Games have selected a source material that couldn’t be better suited for a semi-casual WRPG. Designed to be a mixture of character management and dungeon diving from the outset, the game brings over just enough of the rules from the physical edition of the game to be fun without engaging in a rule-for-rule rendition that could have skewed too hardcore for many.
Visually the game takes place in a 2D dungeon that has been illustrated using 3D software to match its visual design to the 3D characters and monsters on screen. This dungeon is revealed one room at a time and lit in moody tones to give a sense of depth that genuinely works. A nice visual flourish is that the player can pinch and zoom in/out of the map to see where they are in the overall dungeon or better pay attention to the character’s he/she is managing, although the board turning can be a little annoying on the eyes when it’s almost impossible to straighten back out again manually. Characters are well animated and the limited pool to draw from means that each has had the attention spent on them to give them a range of poses and reactions to mirror events in-game. Monsters benefit from a similar treatment and overall the game looks quite stunning. Outside of dungeons the map is presented from an overhead perspective with little animated cutscenes showing towns and villages folding out of the pages of a manual like a pop-up book. A neat nod to the original board game only featuring towns as options and rolls in the rulebook.
Sound is quite serious in its structure, with dungeon music that could have been taken from the Moria segments of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films and effects that play heavily to the ‘bleeding out’ or ‘set on fire’ tone. There’s little humour to be found here (which is just as well given how seriously some fan-boys for Games Workshop can take things) and the game makes sure to keep everything as close to realism as possible.
There’s not a great deal of narrative to the game as a whole, rather each individual quest and subsequent dungeon tells its own contained story. In one you may be delving to find and slay a powerful Orc Warboss who has hold of an enchanted spear you’ve been hired to return to a client, whilst in another you could be looking to rescue a bard who has gotten lost. The game does a good job of randomly generating an almost infinite selection of basic sub-quests, with pre-set larger missions being dished out before shipping you off to the next key location on the world map.
Gameplay works on a turn based system where every character in your party gets to move to the limits of their range each turn outside of combat to make negotiating the corridors and rooms that make up each dungeon more expedient. Rooms are unlocked one at a time when a character steps into one, and each may contain a trap, treasure, encounters, etc. In combat characters still move in a turn based manner, but each character has a limited amount of action points that can be used per turn and enemies take a round in which to retaliate. In this mode movement also costs points and you will need to be much more careful when planning your moves. Each character is of its own race and class, which comes with bonuses and specialities in different weapon types as well as having special skills. You’ll begin the game with four of these (Dwarven warrior, Elven Archer, Human Wizard and Human Barbarian) but can purchase additional characters for your party as in-game DLC (and these days that DLC is nicely priced to match and also contains additional dungeon content!). Getting to know each character’s strengths and weaknesses is key, as battles can be joined by fresh waves of enemies if rolls go badly. Essentially this is the crux of the game, with randomly generated dungeon layouts and missions, but you can spend a lot of time exploring the world map and levelling your party in the various towns with experience earned from a decent raid. Turning the device you play the game on onto its side switches the action to a menu screen (this is of course different on desktops via Steam) and allows you to equip items and weapons to characters that you’ve purchased or looted in town. Getting the perfect party and enjoying a quick dungeon-hop is where this game excels, and you’ll soon find that sessions can be tailored to your availability to play, enabling smaller dungeons for quick sessions or larger caverns for bigger installments.
Overall, Warhammer Quest is a slice of classic WRPG values wrapped in a Games Workshop skin. This means you’re looking at a fairly straight-forward high fantasy romp through dungeons, slaying monsters and building a team to do more of the same. The narrative flow of the game is a little slow, but there is a story to be told here and enjoyment of it doesn’t hinge on a knowledge of the property. With the game and its DLC expansions now particularly cheap on iOS and very reasonable as a complete package on Steam, I recommend you buy a copy and see for yourself.