The Hand of Merlin
By Michael Lafferty,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Twists on classic myth hampered by complex combat issues.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players can do good deeds for people met along the path from Camelot to Jerusalem, and are rewarded with renown points, as well as with gold and supplies. Players can also choose to run or evade a battle, meaning that you're not forced to fight your way to success though this entire adventure.
Positive Role Models
As the one in charge of the party, you create your own role model, deciding on engaging or avoiding combat.
Ease of Play
There are two difficulty settings, but even on easy, the difficulty of combat can ramp up and there appears no way, apart from spells, to refresh the health bar of characters (early on the mage can refresh the armor bar). If a member of the party dies, it's permanent.
Violence & Scariness
Players can kill the enemy through melee weapons, ranged weapons or spells. A defeated character will drop to the ground and lay there during combat before disappearing with the fighting ends. There's no overt bloodshed visibile.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Hand of Merlin is a downloadable adventure game for Windows PCs. The title is a loose retelling of the classic Arthurian story from history, and is a single-player experience. This is a roguelite game (meaning that some progress carries over between runs through the game, and if your party is wiped out, you'll jump to a parallel world and start over), with players moving from one node to another, encountering situations where they can make a decision that affects the outcome of play. They can also engage in turn-based strategic combat that relies on points for movement and use of combat skills. Players recruit their heroes, use renown to level up skills, and purchase new weapons or armor at a blacksmith. The violence is mostly bloodless, with enemies (or heroes) falling to the ground and remaining there until the fighting ends. You can't revive fallen comrades, either, so if a character falls in combat, they're permanently dead.
Where to Play
Videos and Photos
The Hand of Merlin
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What’s It About?
In THE HAND OF MERLIN, a Cataclysm is corrupting the land with abominations, and it's up to a stalwart band of heroes to transport the Holy Grail from Albion to Jerusalem where it can be used to put an end to the evil. Along the way, the heroes will encounter those in need, bandits, and monstrosities in corrupted lairs. The Hand of Merlin is a roguelite progressive game where players take a band of heroes across a big map, making decisions that affect the tone of the game or resulting in perma-death. While the setting is historical, the game deviates with actual history, offering some twists and creating a non-linear story arc that makes decisions matter. The combat's turn-based with typical real-time strategy elements for movement and combat skills. Players will gain renown to level up characters (health and power are auto-leveled, but you can add to combat skills from randomly dealt cards containing new skill sets).
Is It Any Good?
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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about games created with an historical background, and how they may spark interest in history. Is it necessary to have history accurately portrayed? Why is using historical places or characters a good or bad thing? Would players prefer a game based off history, or would they rather play a game that is completely made up in terms of places or characters?
Why are turn-based strategy games a challenge, and how do you develop strategies for success? What are some instances in the real world where devising strategies for approaching a situation comes in handy?
The Hand of Merlin is heavy on text-driven storylines, but do you think younger players find this compelling or a waste of time? What makes for a good game -- story, action, or a combination of the two?
- Platform: Windows
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Versus Evil
- Release date: May 11, 2021
- Genre: Real-Time Strategy (RTS)
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
- Last updated: May 19, 2021
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Play
Our Editors Recommend
Great Games That Teach Strategy
Best Strategy Game Apps
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate