I've been needing to write a review since becoming an Official Reviewer, but my game time lately has been mainly playtesting and playing games not on the AoMH downloads database. But this game caught my eye, sounding nice and short from it's description, so I thought that I'd give it a whirl!
The game is most certainly basic, the Hunter starts with one Scylla, the Runners with one Trireme each..
Hang on, did you say TRIREME?! Yes, instead of the usual affair with Hunters having to smash down wall after wall, instead it's more of a game of hide and seek on water. And it's not boring to play either, both the Hunters and Runners (or Sailors?) get some upgrades, for example the Runners can place a tower each, which makes room to be more tactical, if people put them in the right place you can develop a good system to try and avoid the Scylla. Alternatively, people could end up grouping their towers together, making them rather useless.
The Scylla also gets upgrades like the vision and spy GPs, though I don't find them as good, since Vision is just pot luck, and Spy is only ever useful if, while chasing a runner, you get lucky enough to see two at once.
Not that it doesn't happen. Often in the game people start out together early on, and new players are likely to follow the host around, but the best tactic is easily to split up and hide. It is a good thing that a Trojan Wall blocks the Hunter at first as when the Runners first start, things get a bit crowded as people explore the map and try to decide where to go, and two runners would probably die as the others get away. But thankfully that doesn't happen.
Unfortunately, probably the worst part of the game is that once you get caught, unless you're very lucky or the Hunter is very stupid, you're dead. There's no doubt about it, the chase is probably the worst part about the game, the Hunter clicks to attack, the Runner clicks around the map and the Hunter automatically follows, if the Runner is good they can probably survive for a couple of minutes, but as the Trireme automatically seems to hug the shoreline it's only a matter of time before it gets caught on rough terrain, allowing the Scylla to take a chomp out of the ship, and inevitably it will happen again.
From the Hunters point of view it takes too long to kill the Runner in the chase, and from the Runners point of view, you CAN'T SHAKE OFF THE SCYLLA! And with every speed upgrade, it's more likely that you'll get caught on rough terrain. You REALLY need to make it more exciting and interesting, like say giving the Hunter and Runners shockwaves to get away, or giving them Ragnarok GPs that increase speed for 5 seconds to get away or catch them.
An interesting note by the way, I actually enjoyed it more watching people play it after I died! That's no insult to the game, but it's actually a good spectator game, and seeing the Runner and the Hunter heading for each other as dots on the mini-map, in a crash course of disaster, resembles that scene in the Alien movie! :p
Otherwise it's basic, but it's not poor. It's fun, like a game of hide and seek, and it's better for the Hunter without tedious walls to destroy, but at the same time it's not above basic.
The balance is good, all Ships are the same speed and strength, there's no Runners being impossibly fast, or even Player 1 being double the speed of everything else, allowing him to laugh as he watches everyone else die, at the same time the Scylla doesn't appear to be faster either, and the scales aren't really tipped one way or the other. I played this three times, and the Runners won twice, with the Hunter winning once, so anyone can win.
However, it might just be too balanced. The Trireme and Scylla have the exact same speed and untill the Trireme messes up, the Scylla can't attack it. Without any individual speed boosts, or interesting GPs like Shockwave, the balance makes the chasing too inevitable.
But as Runner/Hunter maps go, this is balanced well. It just needs to be more interesting.
The map is rather creative, I don't tend to see Tririmes running from a Scylla that does 1000+ attack around a river with upgrades given every so often to maintain interest everyday, so you score points for that, but it does feel mediocre and basic in how it's done. There's nothing clever about it really, and there's no great variety of strategy. That said, I don't think that the map is trying to be like that, it's just offering good fun.
But I don't think that this map will catch on, I personally find it lacking, and think that it needs more ideas to it. The towers are a good start, and I don't think that you planned for this map to achieve greatness, but I would like to see an updated version.
Map Design: 3
The map isn't superbly eyecandied, it's the same thing most of the way through, sea and norse terrain all the way through, sometimes making shapes like one part resembles a hook (and if you go in there with the Hunter chasing you, or approaching - you're in big trouble!). I would've liked to have seen more, like a waterfall to show where the river started, but the fact is you can't clutter the map up anyway, as you need to be able to click as precisely as you can when a Scylla's head is pratically poing through your ship, without clicking on a tree and deviating from your course. In short - the map isn't beautiful, but it serves it's purpose.
There's an opening cinematic that explains it all, the sailors have stumbled into the Scyllas lair, and have to avoid getting eaten untill the monster starves to death! Although it confused me how the Scylla could eat three runners, yet still starve to death, it serves it's purpose, and there are full-on Escape maps that settle for less! The cinematic explains what you have to do briefly, as there's no hidde secret to it. You hide from the Hunter and sail away when chased. Or you find the Runners, the chase and eat them. There really is no need for objectives, as you'd lose out on valuable hiding time.
It's a decent game, but the amount of time I need to make my mind up on a review for it sums it up. By the third game I had seen all that I needed to see, and unfortunately when hosting it I had long waiting times for a game, and was plagued by map stealers (people who come, download, and leave), thus my decison to end it there.
In short, it's a fun little game, but you could soon see all that there is to see. Worth a go though!