Here we finally got to this crap in games. The Hand of Merlin is not a project from the creators of the puzzle game The Talos Principle and the series of shooters Serious Sam… In this case, the Croteam studio acted only as a producer, that is, it suggested and directed Room C Games, which, by the way, is located in the same Zagreb in Croatia. There’s nothing wrong with that, and probably Croteam’s help was in order, but promoting The Hand of Merlin as a game from the creators of The Talos Principle and Serious Sam is a bit dishonest. On the other hand, the roguelike RPG from Room C Games really turned out quite well, so Croteam is eager to include it in its achievements.

Game The Hand of Merlin
Genre RPG
Platforms Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Linux, macOS
Languages English
Developers Room-C Games, Croteam
Publisher Versus Evil
Link Epic Games Store, Steam

The Hand of Merlin is a rather interesting interpretation of the legends of the Arthurian cycle, mixed with a little royal gesture, mostly “Song of Roland”, and a little legends of Al-Andalus, that is, the Iberian Peninsula during the Arab era. The mythical Arthur lived a little (several centuries) earlier than the real Charlemagne and Roland, but we have fantasy here, so who counts.

By the way, this is the second game interpretation of the Arthurian legends, which is released this year. The first was King Arthur: Knight’s Tale from the Hungarian NeocoreGames (King Arthur: The Role-Playing Wargame, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr), which was released on April 26, 2022.

In The Hand of Merlin, everything begins with Merlin waking up from his eternal sleep and realizing that a lot of time has passed, Morgana and Mordred have been defeated, the world is cursed (that is, not just one world, but all its copies and reflections), and himself Merlin had almost lost his powers and memory. But if the sorcerer manages to restore his memory and save at least one of the worlds, something may still happen. All that is needed for this is to bring the Holy Grail from Camelot to Jerusalem and destroy the filth.

Merlin himself is too weak for such a journey, so he chooses three champions, the Hand of Merlin. It is they who are destined to reach Jerusalem or perish somewhere along the way, and try again, and then again.

Yes, The Hand of Merlin is a roguelike, so you definitely won’t get anything right the first time. Most likely from the second too. I only made it to Jerusalem on my fifth attempt and only to die heroically one step closer to victory. The fact that the developers introduce two new types of enemies and completely new game mechanics in the last battle is a betrayal!

Although in reality, roguelikes do not really affect each subsequent passage. Yes, you gradually gain powerful spells to help you in battles, but they can only be used once per battle, because mana in the world of The Hand of Merlin is very rare and a very valuable resource. In addition, you gradually discover new characters, but they are not significantly different from the starting ones and have almost the same set of skills. The choice of path and the decisions you make in the text quests bring more variety to the passage.

Each game zone in The Hand of Merlin, and there are four of them in total, three large ones and a small final one, are matrices with a set of roads. Each node is an event. There are ordinary, most likely just text quests. There are those captured by filth. This is with a high probability of fights with monsters. There are towns where you can patch up wounds, buy provisions or new weapons. There are magical nodes where you can receive the blessings of Merlin’s former friends and enemies. There are nodes where you can find a new companion etc. Path selection is what makes each subsequent playthrough more varied. On the other hand, already on the third pass you will see repetitions. In addition, the key nodes do not change here.

Most likely, each subsequent attempt will be better as you begin to better understand the game mechanics of The Hand of Merlin, primarily the combat mechanics. At first glance and the first few fights may seem too simple to you. The characters have few skills, there are almost no interesting ones among them, so the first confrontations look uninteresting, very straightforward and even boring. But after the first zone, when you upgrade the party a bit and see new enemies, things will become much more interesting. The skills of the characters will begin to form chains; skills that seem to have no use become key. But this is different. That is, I advise you to make an effort and reach at least the second game zone.

After several plays, The Hand of Merlin reveals its potential. Playing becomes more interesting, your decisions in battle are more meaningful. By the way, in this game, even failure can turn into success quite quickly. So I, having lost two fighters in the second battle with some weak bandits, in the next two steps found new characters, with whom I reached almost the end of the third zone. On the other hand, in the next attempt, after chasing treasures and with a full and very well upgraded party, I got into trouble, collected a bunch of negative buffs and died ingloriously somewhere in the swamp.

As in any roguelike, random events in The Hand of Merlin can have a very significant impact on the passage. Both positively and negatively. The second happens more often. But overcoming obstacles is exactly what we love role-playing games for.

The Hand of Merlin is a pretty good turn-based role-playing game that we can recommend to all fans of the genre. It lacks the gloss of AAA projects a little, in fact it is almost indie. In addition, roguelikes can scare away from the game those who expect a clear storyline from an RPG and do not like to play through the same episodes multiple times.

Please note that until July 7, 2022, the game is sold on Steam with a 40% discount, for only UAH 213.