Heroes of Might and Magic VI: Shades of Darkness Casts a Familiar Light on Ailing Series
The coveted fantasy turn-based RPG series Heroes of Might and Magic returns once again with a new standalone expansion to its sixth installment titled Shades of Darkness. Developed by Virtuos and published by Ubisoft, the expansion features a new faction known as Dungeon led by the Dark Elves, new creatures and buildings as well as an entirely new campaign following Raelag, leader of the Dark Elves and his quest to save his race. Despite this being a new game all on its own, it doesn’t stray far from what the series has offered in the past and relies on being more of the same in a different package.
The story takes place over a century after the events of Heroes VI in the realm of Ashan. In the Dark Elf campaign you follow the story of Prince Raelag, leader of the Dark Elves, as he attempts to unite warring factions to rally his species to survive and once again dominate the above-ground world they once inhabited. If it sounds a little generic to you, it’s because it is. The story itself is rather bland and unimaginative with much convoluted lore and backstory that makes it difficult to jump right in to and fully understand. For the most part, I found I didn’t even really need to know what was going on to play the game and the story served merely as a backdrop for the path the game set me on.
I have liked the Heroes series for a while now, but found it difficult to become accustomed to the gameplay which has always been an interesting mix of strategy and RPG that sometimes borders on tedium. Shades of Darkness continues this trend of venturing around a world map as your hero, collecting items, capturing buildings for resources and getting into battles with various monsters leaving the strategy aspect very undermined during the campaign unless in combat.