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Swap Heroes 2: Tomb of the Shadow Knight

When you got a good feedback from your users, positive comments here and there, that's when you know if you're going to do a sequel for your series. This is happening to almost every entertainment industry. When you already have some fan-base, you will want to keep that excitement from them alive. So as the producer, there can be some predictable moves that you're going to do. It's either you do nothing and keep that excitement go away just like that, or you've known that you will have sequels and you've done preparation for it. The worse part is that you'll just do sequels to keep the fan-base there alive. Well obviously, that last decision is what most pure business people would do. They will just ask the creator to do sequel, ignoring the foundation of the story itself.

This kind of reckless decision is what make most sequels didn't work like the first release. Rushed production, publisher pressure, or perhaps just because they ran out of ideas, ultimately fail the expectation of the fan base. They will then just go away after a sequel, mostly writing a bad review of it. You might remember what happened in 2011 when the long awaited sequel of Duke Nukem was finally coming out after 15 years. After waiting over a decade, just like the prediction, Duke Nukem Forever fails the expectation. It also became the last game of the Duke Nukem series.

When I started to play Chris Savory's game called Swap Heroes 2, I can’t help but a bit anxious about this game. Swap Heroes 2 is a sequel from the pick-and-play turn based strategy, Swap Heroes created by the same independent game developer from Vancouver, Canada. What made me worried even more is the fact that Swap Heroes itself was released around four months ago. Not only that, the engine itself had secured the heart of some people, creating their own fan-base of this casual strategy game. Their might be a chance that the game would fall apart and Chris would need to stop creating amazing game like Swap Heroes again.

Luckily, the anxiety was quickly disappeared when I started to go deeper into the game. From what I've experienced, Swap Heroes 2 is an improved version from the first version. There are lots of improvement made by Chris. From the reward mechanism, progression system, upgrade system, and cuter characters (more detail later on), everything that makes the first Swap Heroes a little bit annoying has all gone. One thing that remain the same is the core product that is loved by every people that love this game, the gameplay itself.

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You will still be controlling a party of four heroes, with three heroes in front line, and one hero preparing for some special skill behind them. In each turn, you will have to swap two heroes positions in your choice. Swap with the heroes in the same front line, it would just doing basic damage. However, swapping with the hero in the rear line would channel the special skill of that hero in the rear line.

You will have 8 characters in total, just like what you get from the previous Swap Heroes. Of course all the characters in Swap Heroes 2 are completely different compared to the first Swap Heroes. But, just like the first Swap Heroes, you still need to choose only 4 out of 8 available characters. This decision would be affecting you inside the game. When you bring in the wrong composition party, and one of your hero dies, the party will be defeated and you have to return to your base immediately. Not only that, the timing when to launch rear-hero special skill is also important. You have no room for error, but indeed, you will have many viable strategies for success since you have so many combinations available under your sleeve.

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Rise of the Shadow Knight

I love the depth of the game despite being a casual and pick-and-play strategy game. It may be quick to start/continue a game; but, in every swap you make, you need to be really sure that is the best swap you ever did. Otherwise, it would be the end of the dungeon for you and you need to repeat that particular dungeon.

The wide variety of the characters as well as the monsters are also designed with great balance in mind. The randomly generated placement of the monsters requires you to adapt fast to the situation and make the best swap decision of your party. This is what I love the most from the first version and it returns with even more brilliant and consistent gameplay experience.

The progression system is also a thing that has improved the gameplay experience greatly. In Swap Heroes 2, the world split into five locations. Each location with 2 dungeons and 3 levels of difficulty. Once you get pass certain criteria, you will get to fight against the final boss, the Shadow Knight. This Shadow Knight is not available in the previous version. The final fight takes place in the tomb of the Shadow Knight; and just like many final boss, Shadow Knight ultimately is the hardest stage to beat compared to other enemies.

I also appreciate the fact that Chris actually hears all the complaints about the upgrade systems. Previously, the reward system were given randomly. Now, after defeating one locations, you get to choose which stats you want to improve from your party. So, now we didn't have to cross our fingers again after every level that we beat, hoping that the star would come to our preferable stats. Now the option is all ours.

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Dan Kian Sang that was designing the characters for the first Swap Heroes also returns for the Swap Heroes 2. Dan Kian Sang is the man behind all the heroes as well as the animation of the basic attack and special skills of each heroes. On the other hand, Rastislav Le, a Slovakian graphic designer, expanding the game by drawing the classic retro background. The retro feeling is elevated more by Albert Allenback who created the main theme (you can hear the main theme by clicking the Albert Allenback link), adding some modern-retro feeling from his synthesizer. These brilliant minds created more balance and more satisfying overall experience from the Swap Heroes itself.

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Characters Guide

I've finished the game and I would love to help you to get the best of your heroes. In order to do that, I've collect all the 8 heroes data from the game. From its health, attack, special skills, and even their attack range. Hopefully, from this data, you can more options to decide your party.

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After you get the detail for each heroes, the next time that you should take as consideration is the the attack range of each hero. It means that everytime you swap your two heroes, make sure that all the heroes will do something. Either the heroes will deal damage, do some healing, or do special attack, make sure every swap counts. So I put the attack range for each hero. Hopefully that could help.

Conclusion

Swap Heroes 2 might not be suitable for people that don't like complicated strategy game. However, if you're a fan of casual, pick-and-play game that requires your brain to get some little workout like me, Swap Heroes 2 is a must play. Especially, if you've played the first Swap Heroes and you loved it, then the Swap Heroes 2 is a complete, more balance version of the game you've already loved. It simply swapping heroes in the tomb of the Shadow Knight!

Swap Heroes 2 4.5 Modern Jamming Feb 27, 2015