Heroes Of Kalevala in Review – Virtual Villagers meets match 3?

The App Store is littered with match 3 games, so one would think we’ve had enough of them by now.  The truth is that there’s always room for another match 3, as long as that game either plays exceptionally well or brings something new to the table.  Fortunately, Heroes of Kalevala does both, making it a refreshing addition to the genre – or is it a village simulator that just happens to use match 3 boards as its means for resource gathering?

The basic idea is that you must lead a ragtag group of villagers out to settle a new land as yours has been devastated.  You start with one village and villager, and must earn money to build up your village by playing a series of match 3 levels.  All your typical match 3 elements are there, including locked tiles, tiles with ice or stone on them, and tiles with locked bombs that can only be removed by other bombs.  You earn bombs by matching 4 or more items at the same time, and you also will unlock “heroes” from time to time as you earn money.  Heroes are Kalevala’s equivalent of power ups, and will unleash some kind of force that generally helps remove tiles from the board.

The money you earn goes towards expanding your village and starting new ones.  You can build structures that will increase your population, and you can add trees to make the people happy so you can earn money from them.  You can also make one villager in each village a farmer, which will allow you to grow that village even more.  You must earn enough money in a particular village to receive a bronze medal in order to unlock the next village, but you can move back and forth between unlocked villages at will.  The village building scenario isn’t overly deep, but it gives you motivation for playing the match 3 levels and it’s always neat to see your villages expand.

The main negative is that during the match 3 phase, the game often seems like it has a mind of its own.  There have been numerous times where I meant to slide a piece one way and it went the other instead.  Not a big deal unless the resulting errant move creates a match that I didn’t want.  I also think a couple of “nice haves” would be a mode without the city building (it’s there now, but you have to play through the story first), and an untimed mode for those who just want to relax and do some matching.  The later boards can get pretty intense with the timer, especially on levels that have tar tiles.

Razzle dazzle in the graphics department isn’t a strict requirement of mine for puzzle games, but Kalevala does a pretty good job anyway.  The village objects are fairly detailed, though there’s no much action aside from the people moving around.  The tiles on the match 3 boards, on the other hand, are nicely animated.  The hero effects look slick as well.  Cut scene graphics have a painting like quality to them, which is a nice change look for static images.

The sound effects are pretty decent as well.  I like the intermittent caw of the crow as a reminder that your time is dwindling away, as well as the cackle of the witch when another gem has been stolen.  The highlight of the audio, however, is the music.  The menu and the village screen each have a theme, and then each village has its own theme when playing the match 3 levels.  So far my favorite is the match 3 theme for the second village.  It sounds a bit odd at first, but there’s something about it that just really catches my fancy.

Match 3 purists might balk at Kalevala simply because of the city building aspects.  However, if you’re into genre mash-ups or are just looking for something different from your standard match 3 games, Heroes Of Kalevala is a great choice.

App Summary
Title: Heroes of Kalevala
Heroes of Kalevala HD
Developer: 10tons Ltd.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $2.99/$4.99 App Size: 66.3 MB
  • Interesting game play mix
  • Great visuals
  • Excellent music
  • Challenging match 3 levels
  • Tile sliding a bit sensitive
  • No way to skip story / city building


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