Hoplite: Part RPG, Part Chess
To be honest, I have never paid for a mobile game. If I want to game on my phone, I play free trials and only download full games if the price tag is a big whopping FREE. Mobile games are, at best, trivial time killers and the limited enjoyment that can be squeezed out of them is rarely worth a handful of pennies. Besides Hearthstone (which is totally free unless you want to build faster) I haven’t found a mobile game I would waste a dime on. That is until last week, when a friend introduced me to Hoplite.
Developed by Doug Cowley as part of a contest to create a roguelike in seven days, Hoplite released for iOS and Android in December 2013. In this deceptively simple turn-based strategy game, you control the eponymous Hoplite (an ancient Greek soldier armed with sword, spear, and shield) and your quest is to recover the “Fleece of Yendor” from the demon-infested corridors of an underground dungeon.
In typical roguelike fashion, if you die, you start over. So to help you survive your quest, there are shrines you can visit to receive blessings from the gods. At each shrine, players can choose from several blessings/upgrades that either increase their health or grant special abilities, such as an AOE stun attack or a stronger shield bash. Each floor of the dungeon swarms with more and more enemies, so carefully choosing blessings that fit your play style is important to your success.
Though it has all the expected RPG trappings of a roguelike, Hoplite’s gameplay actually has more in common with strategy board games like chess or checkers than it does with traditional role-playing games. Each floor of the dungeon is a randomly generated grid made of hexagon spaces that you must deftly navigate to avoid damage, defeat your enemies and progress to the next floor.
If you’re careless, you might walk into an attack or even find yourself trapped and unable to move, resulting in a game over. Regardless of all the blessings you receive along the way, prevailing in Hoplite requires constant forethought and tactical positioning. Later levels are packed with long-range and AOE enemies, so players must plan their movements strategically in order to traverse each floor safely.
But even when you are skilled enough to beat the game without a scratch, Hoplite has bigger challenges in store. Earning in-game achievements, such as bashing 10 demons into lava or returning the Fleece in less than 150 turns, rewards you with new blessings you can receive from shrines. Twenty in all, achievements in Hoplite are worth striving for and add unique challenges and skills to the game that keep it interesting.
Legacy Graphics Setting
Hoplite also offers daily challenges that pit you against three difficult floors with only a handful of specific skills. And there is an entire library (300+) of similar challenges that can be played at any time. All of this extra content greatly increases the game’s replay value and will keep players coming back for more well after they have returned the Fleece over a dozen times.
Players can download a free trial to try it out, but most gamers interested by this article will likely end up spending the $2.99 it takes to play the full game with all its features. With Hoplite’s addictive gameplay, surprising amount of depth and wallet-friendly price tag, strategy game fans should download this one immediately.