Heldric The Legend of the Shoemaker is a survival hack n' slash game by indie game developer Astral Byte, and takes elements of many game styles and blends them together very well. The story tells of a boy named Heldric who dreams of being a knight for his Kingdom. And so, to make his dreams a reality, Heldric trains with an iron will for years, hoping to be chosen as a knight. And at last, the day comes when the select few are chosen to become knights. And despite Heldric's immense amount of training against that poor defenseless wooden dummy, he is not chosen as a knight for the Kingdom.
Heldric The Legend of the Shoemaker - Story
Sad news, huh? However, there is good news; in fact, it is great news! Because even though Heldric was not chosen as a knight, he found his rightful place in society, where he leads a meaningful life as.... a shoemaker. Not exactly as honorable as knighthood, but hey, people need shoes to protect their feet and look stylish, right? Anyway, the gameplay begins after your village is invaded by monsters of all sorts. With everyone in the village in an all-out panic mode, Heldric steps up to the plate to save his people and his Kingdom.
One of the most important elements in this game is the tower defense-like gameplay. Mind you, Heldric was not chosen to be a knight, so he's not some superhuman hero capable of taking on hordes of enemies with ease. This brings players to work with their fellow villagers rather than have to protect them as they sit around helplessly. This idea incorporates a much more strategic way of thinking because although the villagers fight alongside you, they are capable of dying if players don't assist them correctly. This is where the use of building structures comes into play. At first, players are only able to build a few small structures, such as tents and campfires. But as the player progress throughout the game, each level offers you more and more structures with different uses to further your strategy. For every level, there are certain land plot sizes upon which you can build certain structures, and this further encourages the idea of strategy since there are only a certain amount of plots for players to use.
Heldric The Legend of the Shoemaker - Structures
Since each structure has a different use, it's crucial that the player really thinks about how they want to set up their village in order to get the best defense and offense. The villagers will clearly need weapons to defend themselves, so blacksmiths and fletchers are absolutely necessary in order for them to have swords and bows, but then again, the more villagers, the better right? That is for the player to decide. With a lot of structures often sharing the same plot size and only a handful of plots available, players must decide what their village will need and how much of it is needed. But unfortunately, you don't have all day. Players are only allowed a certain amount of time between waves to build and upgrade their village and go hunting for extra gold if necessary. Animals can be hunted for a little extra gold, but the piles of gold are where the money's at. Throughout each level, there are a few convenient piles of gold lying around to be found by the player, and it definitely helps to accelerate your village-building process.
In addition to all the help you'll be receiving from villagers, you are given two other tools to aid you in your fight: arrows and powder kegs. Arrows cannot be obtained until a few levels in when you're able to build a fletcher, which is the construct that provides both you and the villagers with a bow and arrows. But from the very beginning of the game, powder kegs are by your side. And trust me, powder kegs are your best friends. Set them near an entrance as a trap or even drop them as you fight; powder kegs have infinite value throughout the entire game. Powder kegs do a great deal of damage and can be used to either take out a group of enemies or assist you in taking down one big enemy. The only drawback to powder kegs is that they take a while to replenish so players should try to use them sparingly. The bow and arrows are also useful but significantly less so than the powder kegs; as you progress throughout the game a lot of enemies tend to have resistance to the arrows due to their armor and shields. That resistance pretty much makes fletcher and archer towers useless throughout the later half of the game.
Heldric The Legend of the Shoemaker - Music & Sound
The music fits each setting perfectly and does a very good job of making you feel every environment as though you were actually in it. Music plays an integral part in any game, and good music is always a plus. From the peaceful Elven songs of a growing village to the epic battle music as waves of enemies approached, I personally found the soundtrack to be very well done and somewhat on the verge of a The Lord of The Rings-type feel. For an indie game, the game has very well-done graphics, and I'm betting that Astral Byte's production quality will definitely continue to get better. If your computer can manage it, try running the game on a higher resolution. You can adjust the settings in the main menu, and after I adjusted the settings, the game looked pretty good, and I'm sure there are tons of people out there with better computers than me. Regardless of adjusting, though, the game looks pretty good on its own.
In addition to the main game-play, there are a good amount of achievements for players to complete as well as trying levels on the hardest difficulty if you're feeling up to it. I sometimes even died on the normal difficulty setting without having set up a Rebirth Shrine. Trust me; you'll need those.
Overall, Heldric The Legend of the Shoemaker is a very good indie game with an excellent blend of style. I would like to see a sequel with maybe some character and weapon customization added in. I liked that the 200 HP (HP varies with the game difficulty you pick) you were stuck with throughout the entire game made things a little more difficult, but I also believe that some character upgrades/customization would be really cool to see. Maybe finding materials to build new weapons and armor? Who knows? If a Heldric sequel is ever released, I would be excited to see where Astral byte goes with it. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more games from Astral Byte.
TechRaptor reviewed Heldric on PC via Steam. It is also available on Linux. This review was originally published on 06-20-2014. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions, and for historical context.