Heroes: Enigma is a prequel to the new Heroes: Reborn TV show but don’t worry – no spoilers! Playability is pretty darn simple and straight forward as a touch/hold/tap/release first person puzzle solver. In the tradition of full disclosure I must admit that I love Heroes – even the maligned 3rd and 4th seasons – so you can imagine my excitement when they announced they were reviving the show with new episodes.
I was equally excited to get the chance to review the officially licensed game for mobile devices… then I actually got to play it and that excitement quickly waned somewhat.
In the story you play 14 year old Dahlia; a girl with telekinetic abilities. We begin by waking up in “The Quarry” which is a lab for us sort of “special” people to test abilities and conduct research. Trevor Mason, the head of The Quarry and chief antagonist, baits you into taking his series of tests; using your younger sister, Cassie, as the proverbial dangling carrot. Of course you have no choice so you play along… for now. You need to use your ability to get out of some interesting puzzles and as soon as you impress Trevor, he sees fit to inject you with the Genesis Gene which mutates your power.
Not only are you telekinetic, but now you can slow time and time jump 6 years into the future. They are trying to make another Sylar by using this gene and it’s not until a visit by your sister from the future that you formulate a plan to steal Genesis but to escape and hide the damn thing to prevent it from being used on other people.
The mechanics of the game are easy to figure out albeit a chore to master. On a small device I would imagine it’d be damn near impossible. You can adjust the sensitivity but he game requires precision and that’s not always enough. Frustration comes quickly as you never get killed but instead respawn at your last checkpoint. You tape the screen to move as long as the destination is valid; jumping is handled in the same manner. Boxes are given to you to be used in your tests for various solves so they vary in size and durability but grabbing them and manipulating them can be frustrating.
You better figure it out quick or you’ll start cursing at the tablet. There are only two options with the boxes: throw and place. There are 32 levels of playing with boxes as you jump through time.
I will say that there are lot of wonderfully difficult puzzles and not one is exactly alike. For any type of comparison I would need to give Portal a shout out as there are some minor similarities. As you progress, the puzzles get increasingly difficult by challenging you to use all of Dahlia’s abilities which gets a cool stamp of approval from me. In one puzzle, for instance, you need to jump to a ledge and in mid-jump you need to time jump to the future where the ledge has appeared. While doing this, you need to slow down time in order to get the timing just right.
The story is so-so by being mildly engaging without screwing up the TV show. On the other hand, it doesn’t add anything to it either. The graphics are fantastically rendered with beautiful artwork and a wonderful opening cinematic. The voice acting is done incredibly well as is the movement and interaction with the environment which is very intuitive. I will say that some things, like dealing with the throwing and placing boxes, can be very touchy which leads to many resets. Enigma does have controller support which, I imagine, makes all of this easier. With 32 levels of puzzles, you have ample time to get your crap together. The story does a nice job of building and building through the levels. And that, my friends, is the rub. The story builds but it goes absolutely nowhere.
Let me explain what I mean. Essentially, the game is presented in such a way that you are trying to rescue your sister and escape. The feeling when playing is that you would deal with the puzzles in The Quarry for a few levels – like an interactive tutorial – and then continue the story into the world of Heroes. That is NOT the case. The levels just kept going and going and going and then FINALLY I escape the lab! I was so excited and then… credits. The first thing I said was, “Is that it?” and sadly, it was. That was not only disappointing but aggravating. After 30+ levels of the same crap you expect something, ANYTHING, to maybe use these new skills in a series of new challenges. Perhaps meeting some of the other characters from Heroes (since the game takes place in 2008) and Heroes: Reborn (since you time jump to 2014) but nothing! It just… ends. Total let down.
The big takeaway from Heroes: Enigma is that, despite its flaws, I still had a good time. The gameplay is tricky with great puzzles to solve that are genuinely difficult. The story is interesting and engaging enough to keep you somewhat interested, and possibly even wanting to see the show it’s based off. Combine that with fantastic graphics and intuitive animation, here’s a licensed game worth playing. I don’t know if it’s worth the relatively high $4.99 price tag or not, that’s for you to decide.