Off we go again, to save the world from horrors untold.
Unfortunately we are not yet but novice heroes, so first we must hack our way through dozens of species of lower forms of evil, to gain gold, gear, skills, spells and all that munchkin jazz. Good old outset, but what do you know, Helherron turns out to be a great, fun, challenging piece of a fantasy role playing game.
Eight-piece party, the wonderful combat system, the slew of skills and simple tile graphics, among other things, instantly brought Tom Proudfoot's classic RPG Nahlakh into my mind. Actually, by the time I bumped into my first demonic creature in battle, I was wondering whether Helherron was simply recycling all the ideas from Nahlakh. Well, Helherron does stand on its own feet. I suppose that, as both games draw heavily on the usual fantasy repertoire, similarities are inevitable. Nahlakh clearly is an inspiration, and this is of course good news.
Again compared to Nahlakh, Helherron has a little more standard RPG system. Nahlakh's innovative skill and magic systems are passed on in favour of ordinary experience points and levels, and learning spells from spellbooks and casting them with mana points. These and a few other differences makes a Nahlakh veteran tear-eyedly reminisce the demon-blood stained past. However, Helherron's system works well and has a few good ideas on it's own. The overall sense of adventure is great, and the world feels lively with active and interactive people (if not quite on the Ultima VII level). There is a good load of sidequests, which sometimes involve moral choices.
The combat is the heart of Helherron, and it fluidly pumps lots of blood to spill. It is truly tactical, with dozens of spells, items and enemies fueling it up. Someof the more challenging battles, where you have to put all your repertoire of spells and tactics into play, become exciting and even memorable.
There's one thing I really like, is that slain villains drop their loot on the actual map, which in short means you can clear a dungeon of enemies and loot it afterwards.
The unregistered version gives you plenty to play, but it's still just the beginning. Helherron has me deliciously addicted: I just got to play through just one more battle, just one more sidequest, just one more dungeon. Best of all, the designer has released the game as freeware in 2005, although the official site has yet to be updated with the "official freeware" version. In the meantime, you can download the game from this site and use the included registration code to unlock the game.