Heimdall 1 & 2
This is a fun isometric action/adventure hybrid from The 8th Day and Core Design, starring Heimdall the Norse hero. Your goal is to lead Heimdall and his band of warriors on comical adventures through Scandinavia as they attempt to recover the weapons of the Gods before mischievous god Loki can bring about the end of the world. The game is presented in bright, cartoony style with a lot of amusing antics and cutscenes. In addition to traditional puzzle-solving, the highlight of Heimdall are three fun arcade-style mini-games scattered throughout the game that are pretty imaginative.
When you start your mission you are given three sub-games to complete. How well you complete these games determines Heimdall's stats (strength, agility etc) as well as how many people he can choose from to make up his party. If you don't do well then you won't get the full 30 characters to choose from and some of the better ones will not be available to you.
The first sub-game is the Axe Throwing Contest. Here you must throw axes at a young barmaid tied to a stock by her pig-tails. The idea is to hit the pig-tails and not her! Unfortunately because Heimdall is a bit drunk, your cursor wobbles all over the place! The second sub-game is Pig Catching (where you must chase and hopefully catch a pig in its pen) and the third is the Long Boat Fight (where you must try and get to the other side of the long boat without being thrown overboard).
Once you've done this it's time to wander around the isometric landscape solving puzzles and killing baddies (in a similar style to Cadaver) until you eventually find one of the god's missing weapons.
The first game, for example, takes place in a bar after our hero has gotten himself inebriated. In a variation to knife throwing, your job is to cut off the barmaids’ pigtails by throwing axes (apparently Heimdall is very drunk indeed). The second and third games are equally imaginative, and discovering them in the game is a pleasant surprise.
The cartoonish style of Heimdall and simplistic-yet-fun gameplay makes the game ideal for adventure game beginners, or anyone looking for a “light” game with a decent plot that won’t take weeks to finish.
Radically different from the first game, Heimdall 2 was played out entirely with isometric graphics, instead of switching to a more RPG-style interface for combat scenes as happened in Heimdall 1.
Heimdal 2 was a big game, with an epic quest spanning several worlds, all accessed from a central cavern with lots of portals, which became activated one by one as the game progressed. The adventure was very well designed and never felt too linear, and gave a real sense of accomplishment when Loki, the evil Norse god who once again returns to torment Midgard, is finally defeated.
This time around, there are only two characters to control (Heimdall, and a female Valkyrie, Ursha) and the fun selection process (remember throwing the axes at the wench, and catching the greasy pig?) are absent, which is disappointing as these were one of the most innovative sections of the original, it would have been good if Core could have thought of some equally original equivalents for this game. However, apart from that trifling detail, Heimdall 2 surpasses its predecessor in graphic quality, sound quality and gameplay experience.
The magic system is impressive and easy to use, based on a set of runes which the player collects as the story unfolds, with the most powerful spells only accessible when a full set has been uncovered.
All in all Heimdall 2 is a very polished package which holds together impressively well. There's nothing too taxing, so there shouldn't be too many points where the player gets hopelessly stuck, but there's plenty of them so it isn’t over too quickly. The only problem is that die-hard RPG fans might feel the game lacks some depth, and its certainly less of a standard RPG than the first game, being deprived of a character selection process or combat mechanism separate from the main game. Definitely more console-orientated but none the worse for it in terms of pure gameplay.