by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Today is a new day
Looking at the scores given by critics to games created by Tilted Mill, I can't resist the urge to call the developer 'Run of the Mill' instead. The four games that they have under their belt score a mediocre average of just over 7 out of 10. Nothing to write home about. Yet today is a new day, and we look at Tilted Mill's latest game, Hinterland. I can already disclose that there is nothing ‘Run of the Mill’ about this game at all. If you don’t need your games to have so much eye-candy that it blinds you from seeing the game underneath, I recommend you to read on.
When I first started playing Hinterland, I was completely lost. The game is only available as a digital download which means that you are stuck with a PDF manual. An in-game tutorial would have worked wonders but, as it stands, there is none. A single paragraph of text is all the help you will find inside the game. Obviously, I have had more promising first encounters with games. Fortunately, my patience did not run out before I understood what this ‘hack&slash-meets-strategy’ title has to offer.
I found my character standing on a square next to a town hall. I was joined by two visitors who, clicking on them, informed me that I couldn’t hire them. The first told me I lacked cash, the second wasn’t happy with my reputation. My next move involved frantic clicking on every button of the interface as well as on the town hall but nothing told me what to do next. The ‘how to play’ info page was completely inadequate and it seemed there was nothing for me to do. I started wandering around and got messages telling me “you can go no further” and to top it all off, the King told me he wanted access to Souls. What the heck are Souls and how do I get access to them? Just as I was about to throw the towel into the ring, I received a message that my town was under attack. “Ah! Finally, action!” I ran back to town, saw three wimpy looking characters scaring away the two visitors and yelled “Go for the eyes Boo!”. The next moment I died… Okay, so there is more to this game than I had previously thought... Good!
After dying, the game spawned me back into town with reduced health, damaged pride and a big penalty to my stature with the king and his other subjects. On higher difficulty levels the game is less forgiving and at the hardest level, dying even means losing the game. Fame is imperative for success in Hinterland. Many NPCs will only join your cause if your fame is high enough to be deemed worthy of their attention. They also look at other factors such as money, the level of your town hall and sometimes access to a particular resource or item. Without followers, your town will not grow. You will still need to gather the resources but you use them to convert visitors into followers and the followers come in many different flavors. This is mainly thanks to a simplified RPG system that has been applied to each individual. Up to three NPCs can fight alongside you and gain experience and, depending on their occupation, they can bring their own allies to the party as well. You will also need them to run farms and production facilities in your town to increase your gold, food and produce items. This way of expanding your town is a refreshing take on the familiar strategy ‘gather and build’ gameplay that we have seen so many times before.
No Pros and Cons at this time