Quick Look – Heart of Enya (#JustOnePercent 18/100)

Developer: Team Bapy
Release Date: March 26, 2021
MSRP: Free

History has taught me not to expect too much from free games on Steam that aren’t full of microtransactions. After all, with the ability to price thing in the sub-dollar range, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to not at least try to charge if you’ve put together a competent and interesting game. Heart of Enya began as a student project, and can be downloaded and played 100% free on Steam right now.

Game play is one part visual novel, one part turn based strategy, with a diverse cast of characters. Three travelers have stumbled into a hut occupied by a fire spirit, who joins forces with them to take on a destructive entity known only as The Frost. Each evening, you get a bit of the story, while each day, your party of three goes out to fight until they cannot fight any longer. Retreating is not only an option, it’s absolutely necessary because the enemies will keep coming long after your fighters are spent.

An hour’s game play got me past the tutorial, but not much further. I found myself absolutely flummoxed by the combat, and most days, had to retreat long before the event that would trigger the next story beat. It’s not even that it is particularly complex – each character has two abilities, and can charge them up to add a turn long stun to all affected enemies a limited number of times per day. Each board also has terrain objects that block movement and can be acted on by abilities, and I have to assume these are key components in the strategy of the game. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it, which I don’t think is so much a flaw in the game as a reflection of my limited experience with this kind of turn based combat.

Each night, you have the opportunity to buff specific characters with the ingredients you choose for your soup. Since the main problem I was having was with characters taking too much damage, I tended to buff the entire party’s health, and avoid giving them extra “buff” points. I don’t expect this to be the optimal strategy, because it’s the most obvious, but by the time I realized I wasn’t actually getting anywhere, I also realized I didn’t really have a whole lot of motivation to keep playing.

I personally probably would have played through the entire story if it leaned heavier into the visual novel side, but the combat didn’t suit me, and my early retreats led to several evenings in a row without any story progression. I maybe could have brute-forced through it eventually, but in my inept hands, the game was leaning heavily towards the side I wanted less of, and I decided to move on.

SteamDB estimates ownership by the number of reviews, and by that metric, it would seem that not too many folks have played this one on Steam. Because review numbers are so low, that estimate somewhere between 700 and 1900 people own the game on this platform. Reviews are generally pretty positive, and the three negative reviews I read all were more upset about the diversity and the characters stating their pronouns than any part of the actual game. It is ranked 2858 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.

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