HOARD

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HOARD on Steam

MSRP: $9.99

Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux, PS3, PSP

Release: 4/4/11


I can’t be the only one who ever pondered how dragons got so rich that they could sleep on their piles of gold.  Of course, I also wondered why anyone – even a dragon – would want to sleep on a pile of gold; seems like it’d be pretty damn uncomfortable.  HOARD attempts to at least address the first question – you play as the dragon, and the goal is simply to amass all the gold you can by setting things on fire.

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Although HOARD works just fine with a keyboard and mouse, it’s very clear from the get go that there’s an expectation of controller-based play.  Having tried both, I prefer the keyboard and mouse, but only by a very slim margin, and even that because you use a thumb stick to breathe fire instead of – at least to me – the more logical trigger button.

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Pretty much everything can be set on fire.  You can burn cities, crops, soldiers, and transport wagons.  Once you burn something to the ground, there’s treasure that can be picked up and carried back to your hoard.  Once you return home, you need to wait for the treasure to unload before going back out.  As you acquire gold, you also level up, granting you points to spend on improving your armor, carry capacity, speed or flame breath. Easy enough, until you consider that there are not only thieves, but other dragons going after the same treasure as you.

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At its core, HOARD is a simple enough game to bumble through, or play in multiplayer with some friends, but the more you play, the more you realize there’s also a strategy to it.  Towns that keep standing get richer over time, but they also spawn more soldiers to defend them.  If you do enough damage to a rival dragon, he’ll drop his gold as he returns to his base, letting you scoop it up instead. Princesses are worth a good ransom if you can hold onto them, but the time you’re waiting to make sure you are well paid, you’re not out burning down wagons. HOARD plays like an arcade game, but to really excel, you’ll need quick thinking as well as quick fingers.

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Unfortunately, unless you have HOARD for the PlayStation 3, local multiplayer is not supported (although you can set up private multiplayer sessions, both in competitive and co-op scenarios through the game’s interface).  It’s really unfortunate, because it feels like local multiplayer would really be the most flattering light for this game.  Playing alone, against the AI, it’s not a bad game, exactly, but it doesn’t feel like it has the same kind of staying power. It’s also a bit pricey for an arcade-style title of its age, and unless you can pick it up for a few dollars, or have friends to play with online, it’s probably not worth the investment.

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