Villagers and Heroes Review
6 Overall Score
Interesting crafting system | Nice game world
Very poor animations
Last week we took some time to play Villagers and Heroes, the rebranded MMORPG once known as A Mystical Land. The game is a classic theme-park MMORPG accessible through Facebook, Steam, or a small client.
In Villagers and Heroes, players will choose one of the 4 available classes and play the role of a rookie hero, adventuring through a fantasy world rich of monsters, NPCs and items to collect and craft in a typical story-based quest gameplay.
After a quick registration and the log-in process you will find yourself in the character creation screen. There are 4 available classes, standard classics which have already been seen in many MMORPG out there: Warrior, Hunter, Priest, Wizard. As you can probably guess, the Warrior is the heavy armoured tank, the Hunter is your physical ranged DPS, the Wizard the AOE-based magic DPS and the Priest is the typical support/healer. Besides the class choice, you can customize your character by choosing the sex and a very limited selection of other options, such as face, hair, eyes, etc. We have to say the despite being a browser based title, we would have expected a little more in way of customization options in a game that aims to be competitive and attract new players nowadays.
However, we chose the Hunter and jumped into the game world looking for a quest, adventure and some good old fat loot. You start your journey in a little settlement in the woods, next to an NPC with a familiar exclamation mark on her head. Being veterans of MMORPGs, we already knew what to do and went straight to her to grab our first quest. Our first task was to slay a couple of weak monsters that were wandering in the nearby area, while a text box explained to us the basics of combat. If you ever played a theme-park MMORPG like WoW before, you will basically already know everything you need in order to play Villagers and Heroes. You move with WASD, move the camera and interact with objects and menus with your mouse, select your target with mouse or TAB and use your skills with the number keys.
The combat system is the classic tab-target combat with autoattack and skills, and while it overall seems to work just fine, we would have liked to see even a small trace of innovation, but, hey, if it isn't broke, don't fix it, right? It was fun to kill stuff from afar with our hunter's ranged skills such as poison and shots that caused bleeding whilst we were moving around. However, while the combat mechanics were ok, we can't say the same about the combat animations, which were wooden and clumsy, with every skill animation totally untied to the other ones and visual gliches like an annoying sliding effect on the terrain.
We kept on following this starting quest chain that also works as a tutorial and killed our first mini boss, picked our first skills/talents, obtained new items and equipment and learned more about the game's systems and lore. One thing that we liked of the game is that items such as weapons can have their very own active skills that become available to your character when you equip them; e.g. we found a bow that gave us access to a poisonus shot skill when we were using it.
By levelling up you will unlock skill points to improve your character's passive skills or earn new active skills to put in your hotbar, giving you a nice customization tool to create a character that fits your personal playstyle. With the hunter, as an example, you can focus on increasing your raw damage or crit, or range, or useful buffs, or even improve dot skills such as poison and bleeding.
There are a lot of different quests scattered around that will ask you to complete several types of tasks - not only combat related ones - such as talking to certain NPCs or find specific items, and crafting quests as well, which bring us to the crafting. While we managed to get only a taste of the crafting system, we can safely say that it's well designed and interesting. There are a lot of crafting skills to improve, such as Fishing, Cooking, Mining, Bug Lore, Plants Lore, Woodworking and more, and the good thing is that a player can master every single one of these skills, so there is a lot of stuff to do if you like to craft and sell items.
Graphics wise we can see that developers tried to make the best use of the tools at their disposal, as they worked with a very light and simple engine that could run in a browser. That said, the game offers a cartoonish visual style with humorous characters and dialogues. 3D models are extremely simple and animations are often horrible and don’t link particularly well with each other, however, textures are not bad and environments are interesting and well designed, even if sometimes they can feel a little empty due to the lack of details.
Regarding the sounds, the music is quite good, with celtic-style tracks that will remind you of old fantasy games such as Zelda or Age of Camelot. On the other hand, the sound effects are poor and annoying, and they would certainly need some love.
Villagers and Heroes is an easily accessible, simple and casual theme-park MMORPG. It doesn't try to innovate or improve the genre, and just wraps the most loved elements and features from the classic WoW-style MMORPG formula in a light and family friendly package. It may not be meaty enough for the hardcore MMORPG fans, but could be an interesting game to play for fathers and kids together or for those who are looking for a light and relaxing fantasy MMO experience.