Merlin’s Hand (eShop Conversion) Review

Review of The Hand of Merlin - Screenshot 1/5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

A few years ago, a small Croatian development team called Room-C started creating a new game set in Arthurian mythology called Merlin’s Hand. Following a roguelite structure and based on tactical, high-difficulty gameplay, the release quickly gained a rabid fan base, who eagerly awaited each new iteration as the title took hold. Early Access on Steam. Now that the title has finally reached 1.0 state, it’s made its way to the console and we’re happy to announce that the final product is an exciting and powerful experience, well worth your time. time.

The story in The Hand of Merlin is kept to a minimum, consisting of a larger overarching event filled with various smaller emergent events that vary from run to run. The main thrust of the story here is that there is a terrible Flood that is slowly destroying the land and killing life, and the spirit of Merlin the Wizard is the last hero of the Round Table that can do something about it. . Even though he, uh, sorta dead, he is able to travel the multiverse and help various groups of heroes and adventurers in their quest to save the world. If they fail and die, Merlin saves them and travels to another universe to try again.

Review of The Hand of Merlin - Screenshot 2/5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The story unfolds in a unique way for each run, as different events fill in and give you the opportunity to make key decisions that change their outcome. For example, we stumbled upon an event when the lord of a local town was tasked with determining the sentence of an imprisoned man accused (without evidence) of stealing from another town dweller. The lord has asked our group of adventurers for help and we can choose from several options on how to handle him, with presumably different rewards being given to us depending on the decision. ours. We love this non-linear and somewhat random approach to storytelling, as it helps keep each run feeling fresh and gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the story. Your adventurers can be as honored or as bad as you want them to be, especially when the only goal that really matters here is that you can survive the battles so you can stand up to the Great Flood. .

Each run consists of several maps covered in several event nodes, each of which is linked to several other maps by one-way lines. Go to the end of the map and you will encounter a boss, and you will move on to the next map if successful. Each node has a difficulty level attached to it, and some will lead to a combat encounter, a town or merchant, or an NPC encounter. You’ve been given an idea of ​​the rewards you can get from a node in advance, which helps a bit with planning and charting your path for the inevitable boss encounter from at the end of the map feel difficult. Usually, you want or need all of rewards you can see from upcoming nodes so making a decision can be difficult especially taking into account what you may have to endure to get to the next node you really need.

Review of The Hand of Merlin - Screenshot 3/5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Combat in The Hand of Merlin will be familiar to those of you who have played it XCOM or Mario + Rabbids. You control a small group of explorers on an isometric, grid-based map and must decide how to get the most out of the relatively small set of available actions. Each character can usually only perform two actions per turn (including moving to another location), and many of their skills have cooldowns meaning they can only be used every few days. in turn. Battles rarely feature more than five enemies, but much of the challenge and intensity comes from figuring out how to best route them.

For example, most attacks have a hit rate that determines the odds of an attack landing or not. If you have an action left on the character, it can be beneficial if you have a 40% chance of hitting that enemy right at the edge of your attack range, or better yet you should increase the damage to nearby allies for next use. turn. Usually, there are consequences no matter what you do, so minimizing negative outcomes becomes an important part of surviving a runaway.

Each character has two bars — one for armor and one for health — and any damage taken hits the armor bar before it starts eating your health. Everyone’s armor will replenish after each battle, but their health can only be restored in town or during limited events. If anyone’s health drops to 0, they die from it and take whatever stats and gear they have. With luck, you can sometimes recruit new allies later, but then they need to be properly equipped to be on par with the rest of the team and you don’t always get a class instead. Take the role of your fallen warrior.

Review of The Hand of Merlin - Screenshot 4/5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

In many ways, The Hand of Merlin proves to be an uncompromisingly enjoyable game, as a poor decision made anywhere can result in a race with a solid chance of success. sure. The way the meta progresses between tries isn’t much either, so your success in future runs largely depends on your ability to learn from your mistakes as you slowly build up your knowledge. awareness of how different factors and mechanisms affect the outcome of a run. Those of you who don’t have the patience or temperament to handle a slow-paced and very difficult roguelite will want to make a clear turn later; Hand of Merlin is manageable once you put in the effort to play the game the way it’s intended, but second chances are often unlikely.

Have some However, this kind of meta progress and this is largely related to the achievement system in the game. Achieving feats like restoring a certain amount of armor in a battle or winning a war with just one character on your party will unlock achievements, and these will often unlock adventurers. New adventures for you to choose when starting a new run, or upgrade existing ones to give them an edge at the start of their next adventure. You can also play on harder difficulties to get blessings and curses to affect different odds for later runs and to farm a consumable resource to unlock and strengthen certain battle spells. It’s not quite Fraudulent legacythen, if you persist, you will definitely win finalbut there are still some avenues here for you to oil your wheels and put the odds in your favor when you try again.

Review of The Hand of Merlin - Screenshot 5/5
Taken on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Unattached)

It’s a good game, then, but one frustrating aspect we’re annoyed to mention is that The Hand of Merlin feels poorly optimized for the Switch controller interface. In terms of performance, everything is superior, but the UI doesn’t have to be busy and weird to navigate with just buttons. It’s clear that this feature is designed with keyboard and mouse in mind, as it takes several button presses to access some submenus that are apparently just one click to access on a PC. This goofiness with the controls doesn’t spoil The Hand of Merlin on Switch, but it’s annoyingly unforgivable.

The visuals in The Hand of Merlin are pretty decent, though not remarkable. The storybook-like sequences as you get to the new buttons are a cute touch, but there’s a pretty glaring lack of personality to the visuals. This is as simple as the magic image of the sword; the models are simple and dull, the environment is dimly lit and immutable, and overall there isn’t much flair to talk about. It’s also a bit disappointing as the otherwise engaging gameplay feels like it’s let down by this utilitarian and no-frills approach to presentation. We wouldn’t exactly call it a graphic uglyBut they sure are boring.


Merlin’s Hand may not offer anything new, but fans of hardcore strategy games like XCOM will still find a lot to love here. The uncompromising roguelite structure and decisive gameplay provide plenty of compelling content, even if these are held back a bit by boring graphics and an unfriendly interface. If you can get past those errors and you’re a strategy game enthusiast looking to get your next fix, we recommend getting hold of The Hand of Merlin.

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