EpicHearts: Realizing RPG Greatness on iOS

EpicHearts is from 4:33, the talented developers of The Secret of Chateau de Moreau. It is an iOS RPG clearly designed with the longtime RPG lover in mind. That’s not to say it won’t appeal to newbies to the genre, however. Its appeal rests on classic RPG elements rather than novelties, and that’s what will draw in RPG diehards; its simple controls, smooth interface, and great graphics will serve to bring in the rest of the crowds.

So what makes playing EpicHearts like meeting an old friend for the first time? There’s the classic fantasy setting — warriors, magic, vaguely medieval get-ups, dragons, etc. Then there are the quests — NPCs all over the map, requests, shopping lists and crises that, of course, only the player character can solve. Let’s find out more after the jump.

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It’s a familiar backdrop that immediately feels like home, but with the advantage of a new universe, narrative and characters to discover. Building a game on genre staples is tricky business, but 4:33 pulls it off beautifully with EpicHearts. Forget gimmicks, this game runs on quality, polish and exceptional design.

And the best attribute of awesome game design is that you don’t really notice it, because your attention is never captured by awkward errors. This leaves players with the opportunity to be fully immersed in the experience the game and its narrative offer.  EpicHearts players will take on the role of one of the “draka” — apprentices whose lives are dedicated to the ancient ritual of Renobatio.

Translation can be iffy in some spots ...

Translation can be iffy in some spots …

Of course, renobatio is not just any ritual. It’s the rebirth of the millennial dragon, upon whose wisdom the balance, harmony and very survival of the EpicHearts universe depends. Naturally, there’s some backlash to the benevolent power and it gets especially riled up during Renobatio, a time of great vulnerability for the dragon hatchling. That’s why the draka are more than acolytes — they’re warriors.

EpicHearts offers a choice between three main characters: a rough and ready swordsman, a moody holy paladin and a vivaciously pink-ponytailed gunslinger. Each brings their own personality to the game, as well as their own skills, strengths and weaknesses.

Interface & Functionality

The controls system, however, remains the same — so those who delight in playing a game through from each perspective will find transitioning to be a seamless affair. There are two sets of control options for players to choose from.  Direct move was far more intuitive for me than the game’s d-pad based option, which felt a bit sticky. The in-game menus for leveling up skills, dealing with inventory, quest logs and IAPs are well nigh flawless.

There are some pretty sweet skills to learn

There are some pretty sweet skills to learn

But what EpicHearts can really brag about is content. The game is huge for a newly launched RPG, in the App Store no less. Eight fully defined worlds with their own distinct features offer hours of exploration for the player. And that exploration is directed in a most engaging manner by 240 varied quests.

There are 60 different skills are available for leveling, so players can really customize their builds. And items and gear? Literally thousands of options from world drops to the in-game shops. The only aspect of the game that shows any lack of professional polish is the obviously (and poorly) translated text. It’s enough to get you from place to place and tell the story though, and it’s only a smudge in an overall brilliant experience.

Design & Performance

Gorgeous graphics need no translation, and EpicHearts has them in abundance. The high contrast, highly detailed, incredibly varied environments are a lovely backdrop for the phenomenal character design. And despite the sometimes rocky dialogue, conversation is a treat because of the beautiful illustrations that indicate who’s speaking.

This is one epic adventure for ARPG fans!

This is one epic adventure for ARPG fans!

EpicHearts isn’t trying to set any records innovation with its graphics and animation—it’s purely pseudo 3D and more flat than anything. But this just reminds me that ultra-realism isn’t what a visually appealing game truly depends upon. Talented design, a real understanding of aesthetics, a great color palette, compelling themes and well-thought out animations that show off all of the above to their best effect is what gives a game eye appeal. EpicHearts has all of these in abundance.

Final Thoughts

All in all, EpicHearts is a one of the (if not the) best examples of a traditional fantasy RPG in the App Store. So now the question: is it pricy to download or is it going to drain your wallet via IAP? Surprisingly enough, it’s neither.

There’s an IAP shop of course, but it’s not necessary to enjoy EpicHearts to its fullext extent. And the download is priced very reasonably at $1.99. This is definitely a game that we’d see around the $4.99 mark from some devs, but 4:33 knows its audience and gave us a great game at a great price. Check it out ASAP in the iTunes App Store!


Its appeal rests on classic RPG elements rather than novelties, and that’s what will draw in RPG diehards; its simple controls, smooth interface and great graphics will serve to bring in the rest of the crowds.