"You know it's time for the hammer to fall."
Hamerwatch II is a 16-bit, co-op, hack-and-slash RPG where you can team up with your friends online and do quests, collect materials and items, craft items, brew potions, and battle enemies ranging from pirates to wolves, from the undead to dragons. Fantasy is probably my favorite genre. Make it a hack-and-slash RPG and I would be lying if I said I didn’t expect it to be fun. This game picks up right where the original Hammerwatch left off, but can it live up to its predecessor? Let’s see.
Hamerwatch II starts with the option to choose your difficulty: easy mode, normal mode, hard mode, and serious mode. This is very nice; it not only gives the three basic modes for the majority of the player base but also gives an even harder mode for some veteran players. Once you pick your mode, you then create your character in one of five classes: Paladin, Rouge, Ranger, Warlock, and Wizard. Each class has its own abilities and stats which makes them unique and offers different ways to play.
With these set, the game throws you into the same place where the first game ended (after giving you a recap of what happened). You traverse your way through the ruins of a prison to learn the basics of the game. After you escape the prison, you are led out into the wilderness of East Hammer Island. From there, you find the town of Haart’s Landing and truly start your journey.
The controls are pretty simple and can be changed in settings, but aiming and selecting things is sometimes very difficult, at least on the Switch. The control stick is way too sensitive to aim with, and I found it very difficult to be able to attack unless an enemy was standing still or only moving straight up, down, left, or right. Leveling-up also proved difficult because you have to use the control stick to move a cursor to click on the things that you want to level up.
The normal enemies generally aren’t that complicated. Their move sets are pretty easy to get used to, but the enemies tend to do a lot of damage which causes constant retreats from small skirmishes. The punishment for dying is losing a portion of your gold. This isn’t too bad, but for how much damage basic enemies do, it’s easy to die if you mess up slightly. That can be frustrating, especially losing most of your gold each time you do.
The game’s graphics and design are great. The characters and NPCs are all very well made in the 16-bit art style. A lot of detail went into the landscape in each area; be it in the wilderness, a cave, or a town, each area has shadows, and the landscape flows very smoothly.
The soundtrack—while it can get repetitive when playing for long periods—is good. Just about each area has two tracks: one for day and one for night. The songs help immerse the player into the fantasy world, and each night song is similar to its day counterpart.
Now, this game’s bugs are what more or less ruined the experience for me. Some abilities do not work as intended, and respecing your level-up points requires you to pay 10k gold. This turns what is shown to be a cool ability into something that barely works. In addition, a couple of quests could not be finished due to the disappearance of the NPC who initiated the quest. The time you spent on that quest was for nothing.
Finally, the game crashes very often, especially when entering things like boss rooms. Not good, considering the game is best enjoyed when playing online with others. This is extremely frustrating as it makes you spend around ten to twenty minutes to just enter a boss room or travel around.
Even worse, the crashing ended up deleting my progress on my first save file, removing hours of progress.
If the bugs were to be fixed, Hammerwatch II would probably be a well-worth game to buy, Until then, I would stay away from it.
Review: Hammerwatch II (Nintendo Switch)
Hammerwatch II’s graphics and world design are amazing, and the soundtrack fits super well into each area. The gameplay is still a little frustrating, though. And with the very real chance of losing all of your progress, I wouldn’t say it’s worth it. It’s sad to see such a well-designed game ruined by such fatal bugs.