Even in the busiest of seasons, smaller games deserve some attention. In that spirit, welcome to Month of Coverage Club. Come back each day in November for a full-length impressions piece based on a hidden gem you've probably never heard of.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words won’t do a thing. Haimrik takes this age-old adage and throws it right out the window. Words are weapons in this stylized 2D puzzle-adventure. They’re also a gateway to a fantastical realm of possibility where anything can happen. Haimrik draws you in with its eye-catching art style and keeps you hooked with its imaginative storytelling and concepts.
Haimrik is the titular unsuspecting hero of this story. He becomes entangled in a tale of revolution when he stumbles on an old book that grants him the power to bring words to life. These extraordinary abilities grant him the exclusive title of Word Warrior, of which there are only four others in the world. After accidentally killing one of these legendary heroes, he becomes wrapped up in an adventure he never planned for.
A charming experience full of style and cool ideas, Haimrik is a game that never fails to surprise. It uses the format of a short story to present its puzzle stages, which make up its core. Whenever you come across a narrative obstacle, you’ll (rather graphically) shed your own blood and transport yourself inside your magical book. This allows the sheepish protagonist to get whatever he needs by imagining up some creative scenario.
For example, an early situation requires you to gather materials for a cage that can contain a roaming lioness. You’ll also need a sleeping potion to sedate the ferocious feline. To get this, your book transports you to a village full of angry Vikings. You must quickly gather the materials for this concoction whilst avoiding the rampaging Scandinavian warriors. It’s a hectic and imaginative means to an end that sums up Haimrik pretty well. The game’s well-realized, fun and fantastical charm are thanks to its hand-drawn art style. It provides the perfect foundation for its over-the-top action and excessively violent tendencies.
Haimrik is built on a wonderful concept. You have the power to bring words to life in a Scribblenauts-like fashion. Walk over keywords and you’ll be able to make them a reality. For example, activating the word “sword” will give you a sword, whilst “torch” will put a torch in your hand. The words tell the story of the scene, setting up the situation that needs to be resolved. They manage to simultaneously offer hints to the solution whilst also being the solution. It’s a very clever and understated idea that’s effectively executed.
This setup allows for a number of brief but clever puzzles with an adventure game feel. By that, I simply mean that you’re combining objects to gather what you need. Bucket plus water gives you a bucket full of water, for example. You may need to use this bucket of water to put out a fire or pick up a sword to fight a pesky goblin. Naturally, these puzzles start out simple but it doesn’t take long for them to get quite involved and challenging.
The rudimentary combat isn’t particularly responsive, but it works. However, there’s a fun brutality to the death animations that fit the brutal cartoon inspirations. There are frequent boss fights that are pretty great. In the early stages, these come in two forms. You have your 2.5D combat encounters and some almost rhythm-based side-scrolling sequences.
The combat encounters are “2.5D” because the boss (a dragon in the two instances I came across) sits in the background. You aim into the background in a pseudo-3D manner with a crossbow bolt or cannonball to shoot them. The word mechanics integrate nicely here. The word “shield” offers a place to hide from projectiles while “arrows” allow you to restock on ammo. These fights are cool set pieces that make interesting use of perspective. They can actually be quite challenging, too.
Meanwhile, the side-scrolling sequences offer a very different experience. You’re running away from an enemy in pursuit, firing when you can and using the word cues to know when to duck and when to jump. The rhythm aspect comes from these periodic keywords, which will glow as they approach. It gives these encounters a smooth flow that feels pretty good as you dodge, jump, and shoot your way to victory.
Ultimately, Haimrik is a unique puzzle game that oozes style and charm. The surprisingly engaging narrative, eye-catching art style, and clever blending of puzzles with the environment make a game that never fails to surprise. Haimrik is full of cool ideas and concepts with solid execution. If you’re looking for something a bit different, or with a ton of imagination and personality, then this is a game you might want to check out.
TechRaptor covered Haimrik on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.