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Hoard Gives New Perspective

by Paul Cheong

Medieval tales of knights rescuing princess from rampant dragons can grow a bit stale sometimes. Hoard gives the genre a whole new lease on life by putting you in the role of the dragon. I picked up the demo of the game just a week prior to release, without much expectation, and didn’t stop for a couple of hours. Besides my major gripe, where I believe that dragons should be able to move while breathing fire, Hoard is a colorful and engaging game.

Game play essentially consists of the player flying a little dragon around a simple map, breathing fire, wreaking havoc upon the land and gathering treasure. The primary objective is to amass as much treasure as you can before time runs out by burning anything that drops gold which you can then carry back to your nest. Every piece of treasure you bring back to your lair will score you experience points that can be spent to level up your dragon. Speed, defense, breath and treasure capacity are the handful of stats you can choose to boost.

My major gripe, as I mentioned in my opening paragraph, is that you can’t move while breathing fire, but that restriction contributes to the strategy, as you can’t just fly everywhere roasting everything like a bat out of hell. Having to remain in one spot, whilst doing your roasting, forces you to consider exactly how long you should stay there, particularly when the assorted enemies of knights, archers and giants come after you.

Standard games of Hoard last 10 minutes and the dragon with the biggest hoard at the end of those 10 minutes is the winner. There’s nothing persistent about Hoard and no campaign mode, nor story to follow. There are four modes: Treasure Hunt (which has you gathering as much treasure within a time limit), Princess Rush (where you have to capture as many princesses as you can), Hoard (which I finally worked out was essentially Survival mode), and co-op which requires a friend.

The game’s charm lies in the colourful and light hearted nature of the design. While the graphics aren’t brilliant, it is has the ‘cuteness’ appeal. The electronic music doesn’t quite suit the medieval theme, but it is catchy and light.

Steam places this game in their action/strategy/casual/indie categories and it’s currently available for $9.99 for both PC and Mac (Mac users still packing the one-button mice – you’ll want that right mouse button). For those who love their Steam Achievements, Hoard currently boasts 115, ranging from “accidentally” frying a princess to stealing from every opponent in a multi-player match.

While it’s not going to win accolades for Game of the Year or Innovation, it is a refreshing little multi-player game that I recommend. As a quick fix, one can pretty much pick it up and put it down at leisure, and it’s some justice for the dragon in the gaming world.

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