Wild Heart is a simple but fun strategy with a great concept: take a bunch of animals and let them duel using special abilities and smart positioning. It's a light and charming affair full of fighting foxes and evil wolves. It's this week's indie pick.
Developed by Tworavens as a university project, Wild Heart doesn't seek to break the tactics game mould so much as experiment with the kind of stories tactics games can tell. It stars a fox and his growing team of animal companions as he tries to protect a young wolf pup from a devious group of enemy wolves.
The dialog isn't anything to write home about; it's the gameplay that shines here. Taking place on a hex-based grid, players guide their animal team in brisk strategy battles. Every animal has a different special ability. Badgers dig to create defensive positions, foxes briefly go into a stealth mode, and snakes spit poison at their enemies.
Most of my time in the tactics genre involves mages or modern soldiers. Wild Heart uses its forest setting well, allowing players to hide in grass or slip through tunnels to ambush their enemies. There's something primal and familiar in watching a fox lie in the brush before attacking their foe. It's intuitive and pretty damn fun.
Unfortunately, Wild Heart doesn't always feel great to play. An intrusive UI and lacklustre animations drag the experience down. Attack animations in particular never seem to capture the sense of two animals duking it out. But when it clicks, it clicks hard.
There's just something fun about guiding a team of woodland critters to victory, and I hope that Tworavers considers adding more to the game. Maybe I'd finally get to fulfil my childhood dream of taking down a bear with a squad of turtles.
You can play Wild Heart on Windows PC.