For those of you that listen to the Podcast, you might be aware that I’m a bit of a board game fan. As such, I was looking forward to giving Warhammer Quest a whirl to see how well the game would transfer from one medium to another. For those new to the game, Warhammer Quest is a game that sees you manage a party of 4 heroes as they quest through various dungeons in search of loot. The game itself is very much a digital recreation of the original board game released back in 1995 and encapsulates the main game as well as a large number of it’s expansions. I’ve not played the original game before myself, but I have played a lot of it’s more recent incarnation Silver Tower which I have very much enjoyed with my friends. As such, I was looking forward to giving this a try.
So, for those of you who haven’t played the game before it is basically a role playing game where you and a group of friends manage a party of various heroes as they quest through dungeons looking for loot. Each dungeon is randomly generated by randomly drawing a room tile each time a new room is entered. Alongside this, dice tables are used to determine random events such as the spawning of enemies and other random encounters. This all works nicely to ensure that each quest is somewhat unique in both the map and the events that occur as you progress further into the dungeon. Earlier, easier, missions make use of weaker enemies and smaller tile sets where as later enemies are tougher and dungeons more sprawling. From a large overworld map, there are 3 regions to explore each made up of around 7 towns. Travelling to a new town for the first time requires you to go adventuring, which translates to partaking in a minor dungeon crawl for some bonus loot. The main quests lines can be found in each of the towns. These quests might comprise of 1 or more parts each getting progressively more difficult.
Presentation wise, it is a faithful recreation of the board game.
Gameplay is turned based, with the heroes going first followed by the monsters. During your turn each of your heroes has a number or move or attack actions that they can perform. You can perform these actions in pretty much any order that you like, and switch backwards and forwards between your heroes as much as you like. The only limitation is that once a hero has attacked, they are no longer able to move. As such the game is largely about strategy, and ensuring that you maximise your damage output each turn whilst positioning yourself to minimise the amount of damage that you take.
You can’t take too much time however, as randomly at the end of each round the game can spawn more enemies in to the local vicinity. Sometimes this happening during a nice intermission, as you travel the corridors between the larger rooms, but every so often whilst you are in the middle of clearing a freshly opened room the game will spawn an extra set of critters for you to deal with. The randomness helps to keep things varied, and coupled with other random events that can occur, which often result in negative effects applying to your heroes for the duration of a dungeon, it helps to keep things challenging and some what varied. Dispatching enemies and completing quests earns you new equipment and items. Most equipment is class specific, although during quest selection you can often see what the main reward will be. Other items come in the form of potions, one shot spells and accessories that serve no purpose other than to be sold at market.
Due to the random nature of events, things can escalate very quickly.
Progression in the game comes through leveling up your heroes, which in turn increases the difficulty of each quest. As each of your heroes level, they will unlock additional abilities that help to improve various stats or unlock new abilities. Leveling up a hero is a costly affair, as in addition to collecting XP from killing enemies you will also require a number of gold coins, over 10,000 for later levels, so that you can send your hero to a training academy to complete the leveling process. During my playthrough, I actually found it harder to collect the required number of coins as opposed to the experience which meant most of my heroes would sit in the ‘Ready to Level Up’ state for quite a large amount of time, although this does help to encourage you to rotate your party members and try out the other classes available.
On a more critical front, one of the major let downs of the game is the input and user interface. Having been ported from mobile navigation in the menus is extremely clunky with certain things such as scrolling text, which rather than using one of the joysticks to scroll requires you to tap a button to cycle the text, and navigation between menu items feeling like far to much hard work. Compounding this is the poor colour selection for highlighting the currently selected menu item which can be extremely subtle and hard to naturally track. Other quirks include equipping and item or object causing the focus to jump somewhere else and as such often leads to you accidentally doing something you didn’t intend to do, such as selling the wrong item. Thankfully this is rarely too costly, although it has on occasion caused me to accidentally end my turn well before I had used all my actions. There are times however where it can cause you great issue. For example, one quest required me to return a cursed item to it’s original owners tomb and at the start you are asked to select a hero from your party to carry the cursed item. Sadly, the menu wouldn’t let me scroll between my party members and in the end I was forced to use the default selection of my Marauder who also happened to be my highest level hero. All these minor annoyances do wear on you, and as you progress you’ll find yourself getting more and more frustrated with it’s clunkiness. It’s a shame considering how well polished the rest of the game is.
The menu system is clunky, and buggy in places.
Overall, the game is an accomplished digital re-creation of the board game, although this both works for and against. Other than it’s clunky user interface, it successfully allows you to play through a full campaign and experience most aspects from the board game. It’s lack of any form of multi-player support is a little disappointing, although you could in theory still play co-operatively if you were to gather around a single screen. For fans of the board game, then you might find some appeal to playing the video game during the times that you cannot play the board game by yourself but at that same time you may find the greater pace of the video game serves to drain your appetite for the game faster than playing the table top version. And this is the biggest risk of playing digital versions of some board games in my opinion, that they play too fast. An evening with the board game might see you complete 1 or 2 quests, however an evening with the video game will see you tackle maybe 15-20 quests and as such you’ll experience a lot of repetitivity that you normally wouldn’t be exposed to. I felt the same with the Space Hulk video game, and having playing this for around 15 hours now I am also beginning to get the same feeling. You can after all have too much of a good thing.
To conclude, Rodeo Games have created a very faithful port of the original Games Workshop game. If you’ve not played the game before, but are a fan of board games like Descent or just a fan of Warhammer then you’ll probably enjoy this game, and as such I would advise you to give this a try, But if you still play the board game and are wondering if you should get the video game, then I would advise that you proceed with caution, as you might well end up consuming your appetite for the game entirely.
Warhammer Quest was reviewed with a download code of the Xbox One edition, provided by Xbox.