Hieroglyphika is a game without words. I wish their was a way to review it without using words either, but I couldn’t think of one. This review does spoil some of the gameplay experience, so please read at your own risk. Sadly, it’s hard to describe how great a game is to potential players without actually telling them anything about it. After all, pictures can only go so far.
Or so I thought until I played Hieroglyphika…
Hieroglyphika is a creative, turn based rogue-like. The way to “win” is to successfully make it to the other side of each level. But the game doesn’t tell you that. Instead, players begin in an Egyptian tomb with no tutorial or other instruction.
The controls are easy enough to figure out though. Everything is done with the mouse. You simply have to point-and-click your way across the stage. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong! While I am unsure how many levels there are, I do know that Level 4 is when things gets dangerous as I have yet to make it to Level 5. The challenge is real.
What makes Hieroglyphika so challenging isn’t the lack of words or instruction. Though that does play a huge part in making Hieroglyphika so unique. But more on that later. The issue is all the traps, obstacles and Egyptian monsters roaming around. The player can only do one thing each turn. Either move or use an action. After the player’s turn ends, the stage gets to have a turn…
Each monster can advance on you and will likely attack once within strike range. There are traps all around you that trigger every few turns. Then you have to deal the various stage obstacles as well that may block your path or weaken you in some way. Setting your sights blindly ahead without taking into account everything else around you will only lead to an untimely death. You have been warned.
Hieroglyphika isn’t just a point-and-click survival though. You can fight back. The game helps you defend yourself by offering up some sweet ol’ loot in the form ancient Egyptian artifacts, weapons and gear. This is where being a wordless game comes into play. Each piece of equipment (many can be seen in the image below) have various stats, abilities and effects.
Some weapons can deal poison damage. Others offer passive effects, such as increased movement. A particular helmet I always hope to get makes you immune to fire damage. There are even offensive and defensive spells. The list goes on. Or rather, it would if that list had any words on it.
Everything I just mentioned had to be figured out on my own. The various item and spells effects are not clearly defined. Some barely at all. Players have to figure out what each new items does via pictograms. You can see an example of these pictograms just above the items in the screenshot above. The left most group of images have symbols next to various numbers. Those are the stats of the weapon. I feel like those symbols are easily identified and understood. But look to the next two sets of pictograms, the middle and right. Not nearly as straightforward.
I see a man with lines around him, lots of swords, a spear, jagged looking spikes above the spear and hourglasses with numbers beneath them. All these symbols mean something though and can be learned after enough games. The pictogram details of spells and items with passive bonuses are hardest to decipher I learned.
Making it to the stairs advances you to the next level.
It’s all about the stairs. If you manage to make it to the stairs you get to move on to the next stage. That doesn’t make life any easier for you though. From what I can tell, all of the items and gear you find are randomized. You could find a really great weapon on Level 1 that you previously didn’t find until Level 3.
There might be more science to it than that, but rogue-likes always end the same. If you die, you have to start alllllll over, no matter what sweet items you may have found. It’s fun though with tons of replayability. Hieroglyphika is an awesome addition to any rogue-like fan’s library. Raid responsibly my friends.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Silently Raid Egyptian Tombs!
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Challenge - 9/10
Design - 8.5/10
I am normally not a fan of rogue-like games but Hieroglyphika had me coming back for more me after each loss. While incredibly simple to play, you often have to pause and think about the position of everything on the map before making a move. Was very challenging and oh so much fun. Hieroglyphika offers a truly unique rogue-like experience.