In an endless stream of new games which copy one another and follow a safe path – making that which sells, we rarely ever have the chance to get something new and innovative. If that ever happens, then everyone immediately starts copying it and it soon loses its allure. It was so with Battle Royale and many other games, but Haimrik is a title which will bring a smile back to the gamer’s face as it is an ingenious game which anyone will want to copy.
Only recently published by the 1C Company, Haimrik is developed by BTG (Below the Game), which is an indie video game studio based in Colombia. It is already known for creating unique games, bringing about innovative mechanics and art rarely, or never before seen.
In their own words, BTG states on their site that:
“Below the Game is an Indie Videogame Studio based in Colombia that creates unique games, be it on the game mechanics or on the art side of them. We strongly believe the only way to make the industry take notice is to make games no one has seen before, and have had validation in many international venues for it, being finalists for Indiecade, Nominees for both SXSW Gamer’s Voice and IMGA and winners of the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards in Colombia”
Now, there is nothing wrong with a small indie company to showcase their achievements on their site, but this game is, in all honesty, sufficient enough.
It is an innovative way of telling a medieval story, filled with puzzles which are quite cleverly integrated into the gameplay. The story and the gameplay are in fact also inseparable, in more ways than an average gamer is used to, and you will see why. This game will take anyone on a unique adventure, with might, magic, dragons, warriors, wizards, and puzzle-action platform adventure gameplay.
The Story and the Gameplay
As mentioned before, these two aspects are inseparable in Haimrik, because in order to progress through the game, you must move Haimrik (your character) over the words from the story, as if they were the floor, and solve puzzles on the way. This sometimes literally means grabbing the words from the story and making them come to life, like grabbing a word ‘sword’ and making it turn into an actual sword. Haimrik can also get hurt by the story’s words…
The initial plot obviously took me back to the old Sega gaming days and reminded me of the Comix Zone, where you get sucked into your own comic book, and need to battle through panels to defeat the villain and get back to reality. This might be the only thing about this game which remotely resembles something else, but even this aspect is entirely different.
The story introduces the player to the game’s universe like any other tale would – with ‘a long time ago’. Basically, the kingdom called Estria, where the story unfolds, was divided into four kingdoms which were at war for a long time. But, in the midst of the conflict, a new enemy arrived and ravaged this land weakened by conflict.
But, just before all hope was lost, young king Udolf, who ruled at the time, discovered an ancient power and defeated the invaders, uniting the four kingdoms in the process.
This magical power could only be wielded by the kingdom’s most skilled men and women, and they were called The Word Warriors.
But, this time of prosperity didn’t last long, as a new threat was just about to emerge, and it is at this time that the player is introduced into the game, by controlling a young boy, who is a scribe by trait.
At the very beginning of the game, Haimrik finds a strange book and uses his own blood to write his name in it, immediately getting sucked into it and beginning his own adventure.
But, you are not in the book the whole time, as your hero traverses the book world and his real world quite often throughout the game. You are in control of every aspect of this game and go through the story word for word, literally.
A good example of the game’s mechanics is the very first instance where Haimrik gets sucked into the book. You are walking on a sentence which says:
-Haimrik had heard whispers of legends that told of a strange key, one that opened a rusty old door.-
This sentence is written on the floorboards on which Haimrik is walking, and as you get to the end, there really is an old, rusty door there. In order to go through the door, you need to get back above the word ‘key’ and extract it from the story, materializing it and using it to then open the locked door.
The entire thing happens from a side-scrolling, platform game perspective, but the game shifts perspective in certain situations.
For instance, you walk on a sentence which mentions a crossbow and some guards firing arrows at you. You pick up the crossbow from the text and fire back at them, but when you aim, the perspective shifts to a third person view.
The game will also have you face boss battles, slay dragons, and even maneuver difficult terrain in a genuine side-scroller action.
Haimrik is a definite diamond of inspiration and innovative gameplay amongst the sea of games which do not even bother with having a story. It is a brilliant wedding of storytelling and gameplay, puzzle solving and action. Bellow the Game certainly justified its reputation with this title, as it is a game recommended to anyone who would want to try something different and exciting.