Yep, the title is no kidding. The latest game from Roman Spiryagin of Game Dev Team really is hard. Even the easiest level is no kidding. However, as Roman said, this is one of their main feature. As a matter of fact, most iOS games lately have been 'too kind' to the players. The level design is too tolerable, it's not even challenging for many hardcore gamers.
This is understandable since most developers want to reach as many players as possible, even if that means reducing their difficulty. None of this matter for Roman though, it seems as if game difficulty is none of his concern. His latest game, Hardboiled, clearly shows that a game should be challenging enough, even the easiest level will keep you grind your teeth.
Despite, the difficulty, Hardboiled itself is a satisfying game. Inspired from Fallout 1 & 2, you will get two gameplay at the same time, without any cutscenes. The first gameplay is free roaming world exploration. You can walk anywhere throughout the map, interacting with the NPC, talking with some survivors there.
The second gameplay is when you decide or asked to fight against enemy. Once, you choose to fight, you'll be automatically entering this second gameplay. It's automatically become a turn-based strategy genre like X-COM and that kind of game.
In Hardboiled, you'll be playing as Max. Max is one of the nuclear war survivors, where the world has been in chaos. Unfortunately, in this chaotic city, Max's car was robbed by some gang and lose its functionality. In order to fix the car and escape the chaotic city, Max will be adventuring throughout the city to find the car's sparepart.
Hardboiled using reputation system at its core. You will be deciding whether Max will be the good guy that always put fight only when needed or the bad guy where he will be sending punches to everyone that passing him through. Whatever your decision will be, it will affect how the game advanced and it will also affect how you play too.
The easiest way is of course to be the bad guy. There's a wise guy that once said, "it's easier to be the bad guy". Becoming a good guy is of course in another level and that's where all the fun placed at. When you play to be the good guy, you can't just getting all the weapons you want, you need to have another items that might be appealing and can be used as a trade off for that weapons that you want. If you become the bad guy, it is as simple as killing the owner and all the items that he has will be yours.
As an RPG game, Max also has stats and skills, weapon skills for this matter. When you gain level, you'll be given one skills that you can use to improve the stats. Be it your strength, agility, stamina, it's all yours to decide. EXP points will be gained through killing other people. When you decide to be a good guy, you won't be able to get EXP points easily since you can't just pick fight with others. Picking fight with others will reduce your reputation thus making you the bad guy. I have some tips later, on how to get yourself be picked in a fight.
There are a Lot of Strategic Thinking Involved
There are so much strategies playing involved in Hardboiled. As you know, you need to do some trading with other NPC in order to get good items in your hand. However, trading is not as simple as trade some bad thing with a good thing. It has to be equal, at least for the NPC. You'd get the items you want just when the NPC feels that your offer is good enough.
During the fight, a strategic planning also plays a significant role in deciding the outcome of the fight. If you just rush without good planning, you'll end up being beaten up. You have to be smart, try to pick up a fight that's equal to you. Try to lure the enemy outside from his group, then kill them when they're alone.
Even if you have lure them out alone, you're still facing options. Do you want to hit and disarm the enemy? Or make them slower in movement? Or try to get huge damage by aiming their head? Or just to make sure damage is dealt, hitting their body? All of these requires you to make strategic move to get the best of Max.
Hardboiled is not for Everyone
I believe that Hardboiled won't be suitable for most casual gamers. Everything that we want to do requires us to think first, what will happen if we pick the fight, will we be outnumbered, do we have enough ammo to kill him, and so many other decision that makes the game even more outstanding for me.
These strategic features alone has made the game stands out from its competitors. The gameplay that goes smoothly between you free roaming and the moment where you got into a fight also increase my opinion for Hardboiled in a positive way.
It seems that the lack of story, hidden features, control that sometimes annoying can be forgotten for a while. Surviving and even taking advantage of a dying Max are making me even more excited with this game.
I also love the moment when I get outnumbered by the enemies. I lured them out and when they've came closer with each other, I threw the Frag Grenades. BOOM! Killed two to three soldiers in one shot, and that being said, is AWESOME!!
The save anywhere features is also really helpful. That's because when you're roaming in a big map like this game, it's important to continue where you left. You can't just left in a place then when you go in again, you've been positioned in the other side on the map and you have to walk all the way again. It's just too annoying for me. That's why, the save anywhere feature is really a great and helpful feature.
Not too mention that Game Dev Team was run only by a single developer, I can't congratulate Roman enough for creating such game.
Tips and Tricks
I love the game and I've spent some time in the game that I'd able to get some tips and tricks for you that dies a lot (I've died a lot in the game) and got frustrated.
My first tips is to get advantage when Max is dying. It's inevitable that after some fight, Max's health will get lower. When this is happening and you don't have foods or waters for him, go back to the checkpoint where Max usually awaken from unconsciousness.
In this checkpoint, put all your belonging inside, then go to some bandit, pick a fight. Don't worry your rep, it won't go down. Then make sure you die happily, because when you've awaken, all your belongings will still be there. With this trick, you can't get a fully recovered health without any medkits.
Next tips is talking about some carton boxes. If you don't know, these carton boxes will contain some free items for you. However, when you see a handcuff in the carton box, it means that the boxes are someone's belonging. Don't try to open it unless you want to pick some fight with them.
Now, let's talk about how to get picked for a fight. The basic is this, if you are a bad people, you don't need to be picked for a fight, instead, you look for one. On the other hand, if you're a good guy, you can't look for Marauder. Marauder tend to be more aggressive than Scavenger, Stranger, or Guardian. So when you see this Marauder, make sure that no one near him, and get closer to him. Once you get closer to him, Marauder will offer you some fight. Of course, accept his offer and kill him.
Sometimes though, Stranger can also become a bit aggressive. So, beside Marauder, you'd be wanting to get near this Stranger too. Also you can find some bandit to get picked for a fight. Bandit usually marked with a red dot in the map.
Last tips and the most important one, if you're in the early level, don't you ever try to pick fight with these three NPC types, the Guardian, the Bandit, and the Hunter. The last especially, Hunter has more advanced weapon that you're currently have. Also, you're still too fragile and can easily be killed by those NPCs. So be wise and don't get near them, at least until Max reaches level 6.
If you're a hardcore gamers that looking for extra challenge, I can't recommend you enough of Hardboiled. It gives enough challenge to get into your nerve and will give you a hard time to put your device down. Hardboiled is a game with lots of potential that I believe sooner or later will be evolving into a more mature game and will reach more audience too.