Merlin and the parallel worlds – The Hand of Merlin – Review

Dracolich – Friday, June 25, 2021 10:45 PM
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Here at GTOGG, we consider it fairly important to actually finish a game before we try and review it in order to provide a viewpoint that’s as objective as possible. To be fair, that alone wasn’t necessarily the main culprit behind the delayed completion of this review — no, it was my stubborn insistence that I keep playing on the rather challenging Normal difficulty mode. And then failing repeatedly.

In order to fully understand the above, it’s also worth knowing that the game’s narrative takes place in medieval times, in the corrupted lands of Albion, and that your mission is to guide a party of three adventurers all the way to Jerusalem in order to prevent the end of the world.

The legend of King Arthur – Merlin and the parallel worlds

Our story begins in the famed Camelot, where – following the fall of Arthur – an old and embittered Galahad hands us the Holy Grail and sends us on our way. We receive our true mission from Merlin, though, who – through space and time – tasks us with bringing the Grail to the holy land of Jerusalem.

Merlin, whose self-appointed duty is to fight the corruption that threatens to unhinge the balance of the worlds, has lost his power, but not his will – and so, as players, we act as the titular hands of Merlin, whose job is to guide our group of heroes across the land to complete our holy mission – or die trying.

The Hand of Merlin is a narrative-centric game with a focus on exploring locations, events and countless choices; the game uses a book (a chronicle) to tell its story, and various nodes to guide you through its locations. Every node you visit causes some sort of a random event to occur, and it’s up to you to decide which order to tackle them in.

The game’s text-focused storytelling therefore encourages using your imagination to mentally conjure up the story of the various legendary heroes, and while Merlin himself is largely shrouded in mystery, we do get fragmentary bits of insight into his story as well.

Invasive monsters and hostile bandits

Battles do, of course, make up a decent chunk of the experience, and force players to prove their worth in a series of tactical, turn-based combat encounters. If you come out on top, the renown points earned this way can be used to improve and develop the skills of your heroes, thus toughening them up and making it a touch easier to tackle the next battle… or the one after that.

Levels, skills and upgrade paths

Upgrading your heroes is done through a not overly complicated, but still satisfyingly diverse skill graph, as well as various weapon and armor upgrades. In addition to all that, you also have access to numerous spells provided by Merlin, the Grail, as well as the mythical artifacts you find during your travels — and make no mistake, these are powerful enough to easily turn the tide of a given battle.

All in all, it’s worth planning ahead when upgrading your skills and picking which spells to bring to battle, as this will greatly affect the potential success of your future endeavors.

Similarly, a certain level of mastery of the game’s mechanics is required in order to make the best use of your characters’ abilities. For instance, when you leave one character to handle the onslaught of enemies while your other two try to make it as far from the battle as possible (in order for their cooldowns to safely finish), no one will think you’re being a coward — you’re just playing strategically.

Also, the presence of the Cataclysm means you don’t have the luxury of indulging in light-hearted adventures whenever you please – every path you take and every decision you make will come with its own consequences, and that’s not even mentioning the fact that the game itself is a race against time. The overall urgency of your quest is conveyed quite nicely, and indeed, what could be more urgent than saving the world?

Difficulty-wise, The Hand of Merlin is no walk in the park: in fact, I found even the Normal difficulty setting to be considerably challenging — as such, I would recommend newcomers to stick to Easy until they fully master all the mechanics and can hold their own in battle.

Try not to fuss over the lives of your heroes too much, though — the game, through the inclusion of so-called heroic nodes, makes sure you always have a new party member to recruit, should an old one fall in battle.

In addition to the above, meeting certain requirements can unlock further heroes as well, effectively expanding the available repertoire of characters for subsequent runs. People who enjoy toying around with various “what if” scenarios will no doubt find much to like about the game.

[DS al] Coda: The fate of our world and Merlin’s future exploits

The Hand of MerlinPlatform: Windows, Linux, macOSGenre: RPG, StrategyDeveloper: Room-C Games, CroteamPublisher: Versus EvilRelease: 06/14/2022I almost couldn’t believe it when, after a million and one tries, I finally emerged victorious against the corruption and my quest ended in success. At the conclusion of my journey, I was also treated to Merlin’s predictions regarding the world’s future, and how, with the corruption gone, the land can once again return to an area of peace and opportunity.

Until that time comes, however, many battles must be fought, and countless hardships need to be overcome, with all the ups and downs that naturally entails. But as a wise man once said: if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try try again!

The Hand of Merlin is currently available in Early Access, with the developers constantly tweaking and updating the experience based on player feedback.

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