Parents' Guide to

The Hand of Merlin

By Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Twists on classic myth hampered by complex combat issues.

Game Windows 2021
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Blending a familiar tale with some clever twists, players will find immense replayability coupled with odd combat options and generic fighting sequences. The Hand of Merlin doesn't feature the best graphics on the real-time strategy/adventure block, but it's heavy in storyline. It asks the player to make decisions that can affect the path taken, leveling your party, how NPCs (non-player characters) view your hero, and many other options. Some frustration comes from the fact that there are two bars for each hero -- their health and armor. In battle, a character's armor goes first before their health, but if they run out of health, the hero dies -- permanently. Your mage can pick up healing spells, but initially only gets a spell to boost armor points. That seems pointless when your warrior is attacked by multiple enemies, wiping out any boosted armor by the first monster before others destroy a characters's health.

Movement and combat is a been-there-done-that experience, and there's little that's different from other real-time party-based dungeon crawls. If your party gets wiped out, you jump to a different universe with different kings and start anew, though some of your acquired skills follow you. While the narrative is text driven, The Hand of Merlin is a solid story experience. Decisions matter and while you can't backtrack your path to take a different route, you do hit intersections where you can pick a different outcome, which adds to the replay value. Overall, The Hand of Merlin isn't that visually impressive, but it can be an engaging strategy adventure and story. While the strategic elements, combined with permadeath and the story may be too much for younger gamers to assimilate, but veteran gamers find this to be a pleasant diversion.

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