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Game Info:

HammerHelm
Developed By: SuperSixStudios
Published By: SOEDESCO
Released: July 27, 2017
Available On: Microsoft Windows
Genre: Action RPG, City Simulation
ESRB Rating: None specified
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $14.99

Note: All gameplay evaluation is based on the Beta 11.x builds of this game, as that is the latest build of this Early Access game at the time of this writing.

I would like to thank SOEDESCO for the preview code for this game.

Building games have, ever since the genre's explosion of popularity with the release of Minecraft, been more known for their building potential than their story. However, HammerHelm attempts to blend in some story to the sandbox building game genre in hopes of hanging a plot around your building game.

You start the game as a dwarf (who's character design is up to you) who decided to go against the grain of your clan and wants to try living above ground. Attracting other like-minded dwarves who desire to make a living in the light of the sun the norm instead of the exception, you try to forge a life for yourself above-ground building a viable town and fending off various things trying to make your life there miserable.

The story is a bit basic, but it works and mixing a combination of sandbox gameplay and town management mechanics, HammerHelm puts you in a third-person perspective as a combination town mayor/adventurer. The adventurer part is handled like in most RPGs, with findable and equippable upgrades to equipment and items to craft. The town mayor aspect involves assigning various dwarves jobs to the various buildings so your developing town can become a self-sustaining community.

HammerHelm
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good mix of sandbox, open-world RPG, and town management simulation
Weak Points: Music is quite generic and forgettable; unoptimized and uses a lot of processing power
Moral Warnings: Action RPG violence against generic fantasy creatures

Graphically, the game utilizes a somewhat cartoony fantasy RPG style, and while not full-on cel-shaded, it has a similar appearance that makes the world vibrant looking, even in the underground areas. Character design is similarly cartoony, and overall the game has a relaxing color scheme I found easy on the eyes. The only downside is some character models look stiff, but this doesn't hurt the presentation too badly.

Controls are accomplished via a PC gamepad or classic keyboard and mouse. While the former is fully supported, I preferred the latter since the town mayor aspect has a bunch of menus I found easier to navigate via the keyboard and mouse. The tutorials do a good job of easing you into figuring out the controls and they are quite responsive, so I can't knock them on those grounds.

Sound is nothing overly remarkable, nothing stood out, but at the same time, none of it is overly offensive to the ears. Sound effects are also undistinguished but get the job done, though at least the "hit" effect for mining or chopping trees sounds pretty nice.

Stability is hard to judge in anything but the most general terms, as this game updated several times while I was playing. Overall I would say it's good in terms of turning on and load times are not too excessive. All the basics appear to work with no obvious crashes. Scene transition is a tad slow and there is some graphics pop-in with distant terrain, but I expect this will improve as the game is further updated, neither of these cripple gameplay. The game does seem to use quite a bit of power despite not being half as technically demanding as the specs say it should be, but again, this is likely to smooth out as the game is further developed. As is, the developers continue to be active in honing this game three years on as of the time of this writing, so further improvement is likely. Updates tend to vary in size but the developers still actively work on this game, so be advised if you have a poor internet connection or tight bandwidth limits.

HammerHelm
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 15/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 5/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 94%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

On the moral front, this game is pretty clean in most regards. Violence is generally limited to action RPG style combat against cartoony generic fantasy stuff like goblins. Bodies disappear after death and no blood and gore are evident.

Language and sexual content remain practically nonexistent. All humanoid characters look downright conservative in dress and the cartoony style has nothing I'd be scared to show a child in general. This is a somewhat grounded fantasy game, meaning it only has some very basic stock fantasy elements but otherwise focuses on realistic topics like survival, and there is no evidence of anything occult or supernatural you couldn't find outside of stock low fantasy cliches.

Ethically speaking, it's mentioned your character is estranged from their dwarven clan for wanting to live above ground, and it's portrayed more as an ideological disagreement than a grave ethical sin. Further, you are mentioned as moving a respectful distance away from the said clan and are willing to work to build a life for yourself with other like-minded dwarves who would like to give living above-ground a try. All activity you and the other characters under your control can do revolves around basic survival topics like gathering wood and stone, running stores, and otherwise making a settlement viable.

For an early access game, it's pretty playable and fun for a town management/sandbox game even this early on, and it's worth the current asking price thus far. Morally, there is nothing any older child or young teenager shouldn't be able to handle, and if it continues to improve anyone who is a fan of the two genres this game appeals to is sure to have fun.

About the Author

Daniel Cullen

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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