Too Long; Didn't Play: 12 Labours of Hercules

Sponsored By: Cragmyre

Time spent heroically napping: 62 minutes

Kevin Sorbo Review

A game for the unsung heroes of legend: the road crews.

Steve Reeves Review

Have you ever read about a heroic journey and wondered: Who paved the road to Mordor?

It's a serious question. Some things the epic poets leave out. Odysseus bested a cyclops, but never seems to go to the bathroom. Prometheus stole fire from the gods, but how did he get back down from the heavens while carrying it? What, exactly, are the thermodynamic properties of fennel, anyway?

Hercules did a lot of things. He cleaned the stables, beat the hydra, and generally wandered all over the place being heroic and whatnot. But how did he get where he was going? Presumably there were roads leading to Augea’s house, but who paved them? What if Zeus got carried away and one of his lightning bolts knocked over a tree and blocked the road to Crete? [Ed. note: I … uh … hm.] How would anyone deal with the bull, then? These are the sorts of questions that The 12 Labors of Hercules sets out to answer. The answer is mildly disappointing: Hercules was just very good at delegation.

You see, Hercules is a big-picture guy. He can't be bothered building bridges or defeating every single abomination from Knossos. How would he get anything done if all he did was work?

No, Hercules needs to stay fresh for heroic stuff, like moving boulders or clicking frantically on Hydras until they die. He has people for everything else. Need a wheel of cheese? Send an intern. Need a bridge repaired? Send a co-op. Need a Minotaur defeated? Hey, hold on there, best hire a contractor for that one. I hear Medusa’s been doing good work these days, and she's cheap because she keeps turning HR managers to stone during orientation. Send the interns out to get some gold to pay her.

They say his father was Zeus, but in this game one can't help but wonder if it was really Necrophytes: god of panderers, go-betweens and middle managers.

The tricky bit about managing people is assigning priorities. Hercules has delegated that responsibility to you, the player. Scattered about every map there are broken roads, fallow farmland and reticent boulders that stand between you and the map’s objective. Your job is to send workers hither and yon to clear a path for Hercules and his direct reports. Early on, you can just assign work willy nilly and complete the level, but later on you can paint yourself into a corner by going after the wrong resources too early. It's all about optimization and earning that Lean management black-belt.

The art style has a lot to recommend it. It's cartoony and fun, and it translated well from the original Android resolution. The animations are your basic “I’m going to smash this with a hammer until it’s either built, repaired, or destroyed, and it’s beyond my paygrade to care which”, which isn’t anything special, but works in this context.

All in all, I can’t think of anything bad to say about the game. It’s a worthy addition to your library, especially for the usual sale price of fifty cents.

Shall I keep heroing on?

It’s a great timewaster for when you have a few minutes to play, but don’t want to get involved too deeply. The perfect mobile game, if you will. On a computer, it’s less appealing to jump into, but it’s a great thing to have if you’re a writer looking to avoid writing for a little while.

Or maybe that’s a horrible thing. I’m not sure which.

Is it the Dark Souls of resource-managing clickers?

I’m not entirely sure where this game would even add difficulty. It matters in what order you do things, and there’s no way to recover if you do it wrong, but the order you need to do things is not so obscure that you won’t be able to guess it, or even hit on it by sheer chance most of the time.

And that’s a good thing. I don’t want my mobile games to be frustratingly difficult; smartphones are entirely too expensive, and entirely too easy to throw – especially in the sorts of tiled rooms in which you’re likely to be playing mobile games.

No, 12 Labors of Hercules is like an old Steve Reeves costume epic. It’s not meant to challenge you, it’s meant to be a little bit of escapism to brighten your day. I’m happy to leave it at that.

Comments

"Send the interns out" usually works in all situations. Great review, DoubtingT. I really agree with your assessment, it's spot on in my humble opinion. I finished the entire thing, because I'm a completionist like that, but I think I might've liked it even more on mobile (but I still played the whole thing).

Curse you, Cragmyre!