Heimdall: Trudging through Corridors

heimdall-corridorThe chief play mode in Heimdall, the one where you spend most of your time, is an isometric view of various rooms and corridors. Sometimes the corridors are decorated to look like roads in the outdoors, and they do a much better job of looking outdoorsy than the wallpaper back in Might and Magic, but they’re still functionally corridors. You make your avatar trudge around in this environment — there’s no “run” button, and walking is slow enough to make me impatient sometimes — picking up treasure, finding keys to unlock doors, and running into monsters and pit traps.

The pit traps are the most irritating thing in the game. They don’t kill you, they simply take away a certain amount of health and send you back to a safe position. But they’re unmarked, and usually come without warning — a cheap trick if there ever was one. (When I do manage to anticipate a pit trap, it’s usually because I fell into another one nearby. They hunt in packs.) There exists a “detect traps” spell, but casting spells in this game uses up the scrolls they’re written on, so you can’t simply cast “detect traps” in every room — even if you were to find an infinite source of “detect traps” scrolls, you don’t have enough inventory slots to carry as many as you’d need. And anyway, so far it seems like it’s more efficient on the whole to just go around triggering the traps and then eat some food to replenish your health when necessary. This may change over the course of the game, if the traps become deadlier or more numerous, but right now, they’re just an annoying non-challenge.

The color scheme of the corridors, as in game as a whole, tends toward brown and grey, with occasional splashes of red or light blue. I’d call it dull and unvaried, but sometimes it seems more like deliberate TRON-like stylization on the palette level: the vikings blend into the stone as if made of the same substance, while the occasional red bits seem all the more significant. (One area has walls that are entirely red, and it seems more special because of it.) I don’t really believe any of this, though. More likely we’re just seeing the artists doing the best they know how with palettized 8-bit color. They know what they can do with shades and tones, but only have room for so many.

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