[Nintendo Switch] The Hand Of Merlin Review
The Hand of Merlin from Versus Evil and Room C Games is a turn-based roguelite RPG on Nintendo Switch in which Arthurian legend clashes with cosmic horror. Check our The Hand of Merlin review!
The Hand of Merlin from Versus Evil and Room C Games is a turn-based roguelite RPG on Nintendo Switch in which Arthurian legend clashes with cosmic horror. You’ll set out on a quest in a group of three mortal heroes that must be guide them on a journey from Albion to Jerusalem, wrapped in a medieval setting on the brink of apocalypse. You’ll need to prepare for every step you take, since you’ll be tempted into taking a riskier route in exchange of potentially finding a powerful relic, and you must understand when you can take that risk, and when you should take the simpler path. Relics are important since they’re imbued with magical power. While some can be bought, others must be earned by completing quests.
Given the game’s roguelite nature, that means content is procedurally generated for each run you take on. The game will have you explore a variety of alternate dimensions in which history is reshaped. A different King might rule the land, and the events you face, the characters you meet, and the battles you take on will also be different. This greatly increases the replay value, since no two runs will be the same. If you manage to save a world, then that world is saved for good. But if you fail to save a world, then it will be lost forever. Are you up to the challenge?
Once you’re ready to go, you can take on the standard adventure for The Hand of Merlin that is balanced for gamers of all skill levels, offering a variety of difficulty settings. Story will boost hero health and amor by 20, reduce enemy attributes by 25%, increase max mana by 7, grant your heroes one mana at the start of combat if they have none, increase the gold and renown received by 25%, and you’ll be able to reroll ability cards for free. Easy will increase hero health and amor by 20, reduce enemy attributes by 25%, and increase max mana by 7. Normal offers the standard experience for The Hand of Merlin.
Then we have Hard, which considerably increases the challenge in which your enemies have increased health, armor, and power, and you can run into corrupted encounters with deadly enemies. You can gain Essence for each zone cleared, which can be exchanged for Blessings and Curses, which add temporary benefits and burdens in equal measure for your next run. And if that’s not enough, Hard Mode+ can be taken on after you’ve beaten a run on Hard. This is reserved only for the bravest, most seasoned of adventurers. The challenge is dialed up to 11, forcing you to manage your resources and double and triple check every choice you make, so that you can outsmart your enemies. While the challenge is bumped up for Hard Mode, the rewards are also greater, so there’s certainly a balance to experience.
At first, you’ll only have access to three heroes: Breunor the Warrior, Merewen the Ranger, and Morgan the Mysctic. Each hero will have different stats for max health, max armor, power, range, move, and evasion, as well as starting skills and passive effects to consider. Breunor will have a slash skill that deals damage to a single enemy in melee range, as well as a passive effect for applying a stack of bleeding to foes that while in range once per turn. To unlock the rest of the heroes, you’ll need to defeat specific bosses, defeat three enemies in a single turn, spend five mana in a run before reaching Maca Hispanica, defeat 10 human enemies in a single run with a Warrior hero, deal 20 points of damage in a single action as a Ranger hero, or purchase 4 relics in a single run, to name some examples.
You’ll move your group from node to node on the map as you take on a variety of events. There’s going to be a lot of reading in your future, as you learn more about the game’s story and settings as you move through each node. You’ll have to pay attention to what needs to be done, so that you can decide what actions to take on. Some of these events will lead you into skirmishes, where you’ll have to use your heroes’ abilities to overcome all odds and emerge victorious.
As you defeat enemies in skirmishes, you’ll earn Renown. Renown which can be used to level up your heroes. When using Renown to level up your heroes, you’ll be able to select between getting a randomized set of new skills or improved attributes. With this being a roguelike game, you’ll have to balance out boosting your characters’ attributes and gaining access to new skills, so that you can balance out your group and be able to take on the challenges that lie up ahead.
Along with leveling up your characters, you’ll also have to consider upgrading their equipment. I towns, you’ll be able to find ways of improving your weapons and armor, but you might also end up being lucky and find a hermit artisan out in the wild. If you don’t upgrade your weapons and armor, you’ll end up being destroyed by the enemies that will continue to increase in power.
What’s new for The Hand of Merlin for its Nintendo Switch’s debut? There are three new heroes for you to recruit – Tariq al-Ash’ab (Warrior), Alain the White (Ranger), and Isabel de Orreaga (Mystic) – and each one has new passive abilities. On top of that, each class has new abilities. There are also new enemies to take on. And since the game was on Early Access for a bit, the game’s VFX have been overhauled, along with an audio overhaul to better complement the experience. And there’s also a Hard Mode+ difficulty in case Hard Mode was not challenging enough.
You can customize your experience with The Hand of Merlin by making some changes in the options menu. While there, you can change the camera speed, animation speed, end turn confirmation, move confirmation style, show unit fill, show unit outline, and the visibility radius for the tile grid. That last one is an important one, since it allows you to mark the tile grid you’ll be playing on top of, which can make it a lot easier to visualize where you can and can’t move your units.
There’s a lot to do in The Hand of Merlin as you travel through each procedurally generated run, exploring each node on the map. You’ll take on a ton of skirmish, help those in need – or not – and there’s plenty of lore to experience in this Arthurian setting with a dash of cosmic horror, with the looming corruption getting ever so closer. You can work on unlocking new heroes, increase the difficulty as you get to know how the game works, and even try to unlock the different in-game achievements. Have two of the same relic equipped at once? Check! Reactivate Stone Henge? Why not! The Hand of Merlin is out on Nintendo Switch with a $29.99 asking price.
This The Hand of Merlin review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by Versus Evil.