Haimrik @ Gamescom 2016

I’m an English Literature student; my passion towards video games was born from a love of literary storytelling. Heck, I’m even stringing sentences together on this here website in my free time. Basically, words are everything.

• Developer: Below the Game
• Publisher: 1C Company
• Reviewed on: PC
Available On: PC
• Release Date: 2017

It’s easy to recognise why Haimrik’s premise was immediately appealing; a young scribe hailing from a medieval world discovers a magical book, revealing to him the Power of Words. Haimrik is thrown into this fantasy, and must use his new abilities to defeat different enemies and solve puzzles within the Word Worlds. I had the opportunity to play through a demo at Gamescom and also chat with Carlos Rocha, Game Designer and CEO of developer Below the Game.

Belonging to the 2D side-scroller genre, Haimrik has simple linear exploration. However, the unique interaction with surroundings brings both trial-and-error challenges as well as greater overall imagination to Haimrik’s world. Controlling the endearing scribe character the player moves across a surface of words, providing an intelligent piece of environmental storytelling. Haimrik can activate certain nouns and conjure them into being.

Haimrik 1

It’s initially pretty evident what words can be manifested; reading ahead of where we’re standing might inform the player that enemies will soon appear, making that sword all the more essential. The control scheme is very easy to pick up, employing an interaction button and some quick back and forth shift movements. The latter makes the basic combat feel a bit more participating, relieving the repetition of attack button mashing – although, Haimrik is not so much the warrior-protagonist anyway. Words are his familiar weapon, and the more of them the better.

One encounter against two burly foes proved difficult for young Haimrik, and were better dealt with in more imaginative ways. Conjuring a bucket full of explosives that I could then ignite with fire provided the perfect ranged attack – although admittedly, I was so overexcited at first that I blew myself up, too. Deaths are more than satisfying for all the dark-humoured players out there – prodding attackers with a sword until they collapse eyeballs-out in a pool of red is excessively silly and harmlessly fun. Hey, it’s the medieval times, right? Tedium is further prevented by different types of action sequence; rather than solely side-scrolling, there are moments of 3D action wherein Haimrik will be aiming a bow at archers (or dragons!). Fingers crossed this variation will continue throughout the full game.

Haimrik 3

Yet in a game like Haimrik, words speak louder than actions. During narrated moments wherein explanations and events are being described through text at the bottom of the screen, it can be a little tricky to keep up. With the text scrolling with the speed of Haimrik’s movements, it’s easy to become distracted from reading when the character and environment are in motion. Perhaps my awkward attention-span is to blame, but I did find myself backtracking in these sequences in order to read a sentence that I had run past. Other than that, the only hiccups I encountered were minor control issues, mainly the bumpy jump interaction that made timing a hop over a crevice somewhat clumsy. Hopefully these snags will be smoothed out in the final product, enabling the movement to be just as fluid as the unconventional gameplay.

After Haimrik’s first dive into a World of Words he awakens in his familiar locale full of fabulously quirky characters. We’re introduced to the town in the midst of a parade, showcasing a crowd of delightfully cartoonish figures – I was reminded a little of How To Train Your Dragon. The wicked dark humour and eccentric dialogue adds further colour to these sepia-toned characters. I didn’t get the chance to meet Masamba, Haimrik’s lioness companion, although Carlos Rocha’s description of their meeting exemplifies the game’s humorous direction; the predator actually eats Haimrik’s arm only to see it grow back due to his immortal powers. Thus, they have a mutually-beneficial relationship, with Haimrik as a walking lunchbox.

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My brief hands-on with Haimrik was more than enough to confirm that my intrigue about the game is well justified. Charm is just oozing out of Haimrik’s world, and its quirky (and at times, odd) humour had me laughing aloud. The merging of storytelling devices in Haimrik will hopefully prove to be a dream for bookworms and gamers alike.

While there is no confirmed date yet, Haimrik is set for release on PC at some point next year. Keep an eye on the store page!

Official Game Site

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