This game is a little confusing because it’s got two introductory cutscenes. The first of which depicts strange alien creatures washing up on a beach’s shore. They argue briefly and then part ways. When the player begins the game the cutscene depicts a scavenger hunt that’s going to determine who’s the rightful lord of the province of Harmondale — And you thought women distributing swords was a poor form of governmental selection. You’re playing a group of contestants enrolled in the scavenger contest because they’ve yet to realize what a pain in the ass leadership is — don’t worry about the beach people, the game will get back to them in about 20 hours.
This game was the adventure game tie-in to Heroes of Might and Magic III or it’s more likely that it’s the other way around considering that the Might and Magic series has been running way longer than the Heroes series. Where the Heroes series was just hitting it’s stride the Might and Magic series was just beginning its decline — so sayeth the fan base. Blood and Honor uses most of the monster designs from the Heroes series but sometimes there are inconsistencies that are a little baffling.
A comparison of goblins between Heroes (on the left) and Blood and honor (On the right). I’m not sure if there’s a lore inconsistency or if there’s a breed of sub-goblin or something.
Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor was released on May 1st 1999– a month after Heroes III. It’s competition was Ape Escape (PS1), Pokemon Stadium 2 (N64), and Street Fighter III: Third Strike (Arcades).
Playing this game for the first time was like trying to bust down a brick wall like I was the cool-aid man but instead of the cool-aid man I’m just myself who is also naked. In short, it was an unpleasant experience that took a long time of getting used to but felt really rewarding when I finally succeeded. I finally started completing quests and figuring out how the game worked and it only took minimal looking at walkthroughs. I learned that I couldn’t just make a party of fighters and punch my way through the game. I tried again with a balanced party and it was now like I had clothes and some football pads while I threw myself against this wall.
You play as a four headed hydra made up of an adventuring party– which is apparently composed of some sort of hive-mind or consensus because they do what you say and never disagree on anything. They go everywhere in lock step and never split the party, these guys and gals all lock their arms wherever they go.
There are nine classes that mix and match between the magic of self (Body, mind, and spirit), arcane magic (earth, wind, water, and fire), thief skills, and combat skills. As usual, they can each make up for their weaknesses in a certain way, sorcerers can use telekinesis on trapped chests or knights can just eat trap damage with their faces. Each class can learn a series of skills but certain classes can reach levels of a skill that others cannot i.e. only knights can become Grand Masters of Full Plate and only Druids can become Grand Masters of Alchemy.
The rest of the game is pretty simple. You walk around, travel, find quests, and complete them. That’s really all there is to the game. There are some ancient lost treasures to plunder and artifacts to find but the only reward is in itself.
The sound design is lovely. The little noise that the game makes whenever I pick up some loot fills me with a feeling of glee. In a game where money and the acquisition thereof is vital it’s important to make it feel good.
There comes a point in the game where a well built party is unstoppable. Where me and the gang can fly around a battlefield, nearly immune to damage, showering the warriors below with magical barrages and laser weaponry — did I mention this game has goddam lasers? Well, it does… about 30-40 hours in.
Exploring is actually really fun and rewarding in this game. There are all sorts of lost treasures, characters, contests, and locations hidden around each and every map. You never know what you’ll find but it’s certain to be pretty cool at the very least.
For 1999 the visuals present a solid looking 3-D environment. I was never blown but that’s just a result of the times.
I couldn’t find who did the music for this game but it couldn’t have been the guy who composed the Heroes soundtrack because the music in this game is garbage. It’s all very fantasy, with violins and chanting everywhere, but every area has music that repeats every 2 minutes or so. Sometimes it’s on point but it’s mostly boring.
Death can create a bizarre lock on the player. Dying empties the players treasury, breaks some of their possessions– usually the important stuff like armor, and drops them back at Harmondale. It’s possible, especially at early levels, to have so much broken gear that it’s nearly impossible to keep the game going. The only saving grace is that time passes in game, aging your characters, but also respawning enemies to grind for loot and XP. It’s like a saving grace, if grace were as frustrating as solving a rubix cube.
The characters in your party talk all the time. They shout something every time they get hit. I want nothing more than to hear, “Was that supposed to hurt?” every second. It’s great. Most of the voice actors have really grating voices. Thankfully each voice isn’t matched to a character portrait so it’s possible to mix and match but I shouldn’t have to dodge the voices that are annoying.
The early levels in this game are such a grind. Just for kicks I used a character editor to raise all my character’s stats to 300 and they were still losing an 8th of their health getting attacked my living trees. It’s basically all about gear and the character’s stats don’t really matter a lot and that’s something that’s rubbed me the wrong way about DnD for a long time. I don’t want to feel like a pile of loot and gear, I want to feel like I HAVE gear that helps me do things.
The only choice with any impact in the game is choosing between godly virtue and despicable malevolence. This impacts the ending and what promotions characters can get but there’s no real character impact from the decision. If you join the bad guys then you’re evil now and that’s all there is to it. There’s no deeper meaning to either decision really .
Playing this game is like revenge against a bully. There’s a sickening sweetness, a lot of maniacal laughter, and a lot of shit talking something that’s down and out. But it also involves getting pushed around until you’ve had enough and a lot of frustration. The reward for mastering this game is the very act of having mastered it. The sense of character is non-existent, the plot’s weak but funny, and the lore of the game is so deep and byzantine that it holds relevance only for those deeply familiar with the series.
Next Week: Poker Night at the Inventory