The first thing that you’ll notice about Heroes of Normandie is a glaring typo in the name. Every history book I’ve ever read spells the beach made famous as the site of the epic D-Day battles Normandy. Well, it turns out that Normandie is just the first of many tongue-in-cheek puns and references about that classic era in history known as World War II.
The game focuses on three main forces associated with the assault on Normandy, the U.S., the Germans, and the British. Each force has two campaign missions. The first campaign introduces you to the fighting styles and strengths of each force, then the second campaign really puts you to the test. Each campaign is moved along by a story that usually involves witty banter between your general and the field commander you’ll be playing as during the missions. There are even several guest appearances by pop culture heroes and villains. Clint, an obvious reference to Clint Eastwood, Hans Gruber, of Die Hard fame, and Oddball, from the 1970’s show Kelly’s Heroes are just some of the colorful cast of characters infiltrating the game.
The game plays out as a mix between strategy and a puzzle game. You have to plan your attack strategy to achieve a primary and secondary objective, but you only have a set number of turns to succeed. A turn consists of both your force and the enemy force going through an Order Phase, the Activation Phase, and the Supply Phase.
With six standard campaigns, two Roguelike Campaigns, a scenario creator, and multiplayer, Heroes of Normandie has no shortage of content
The Order Phase is where you pick which units you want to attack with. You only have a limited number of orders to issue, so picking the right units to attack with is very important. The Activation Phase is where your units with attack orders start shooting things. This is where all the action happens, although most units can only perform one action per turn, either moving or attacking. Some special units can do both with a penalty. Finally, during the Supply Phase, any units that you didn’t give an order to get a chance to move. There is no combat during this phase, but positioning units correctly is important for your next order phase, so you have to think ahead.
While the basics are fairly straightforward, the Activation Phase can sometimes be a bit frustrating. Almost all actions are determined with the roll of a die. A unit’s stats determine how low you can roll before missing which accomplishes nothing, effectively wasting your turn. The first turn is usually the most important because it gives you the chance to take out an enemy unit or two before they get to attack. Because of this, getting bad dice rolls on your first few turns will probably end up forcing you to restart the mission and try for better luck. Be prepared to restart missions a lot until you get better at the game.
The game does feature a tutorial in the first U.S. campaign, but it only teaches you the motions to go through, not why those motions are important. There is an instruction manual that you can access from the game’s launcher which contains a much more detailed explanation of game mechanics. While the extra resource is nice, I would have liked to see more of that information available as part of the tutorial itself. As you get more familiar with the game and start understanding how each unit’s stats influence your success rates, it becomes easier to maximize your units’ damage.
Parking in front of that tank might have been a bad idea
Once you’ve mastered the campaign, there is still a lot to do. The game features four other modes: Skirmish, where you can create your own scenarios, Multiplayer, where you play scenarios against another person, and two “Roguelike” campaigns, that are basically Hard mode. The Multiplayer is interesting in that you can challenge multiple opponents at the same time, but the turns follow just like in the campaign mode. This means if your opponent goes to get a pizza while you play out your turn, the game stops until they get back, making games stretch on sometimes for days.
The Roguelike campaigns give you a limited number of resources to buy an army with. Succeed in battle to earn more gold and stay at fighting strength
The game’s graphics are effective if a bit tiny. You can see the important stats on each unit, but the size of the numbers will have you squinting or zooming the camera in sometimes. Some terrain elements also look very similar, making it difficult to tell the difference without clicking on the tile for expanded information. The game’s music is catchy if a bit sparse, but the sound effects are nice. Vehicles make sounds when they move, gunfire rattles off in bursts, and when you miss there is the hollow ping of a stray bullet. The one thing missing would be voiceovers for the campaign dialogue, which does have some real typos and would be even funnier with real voices.
HEROES OF NORMANDIE VERDICT
This game is an interesting take on a well worn piece of history, making it relatable to a wide audience. While learning the game can be a bit frustrating, both puzzle fans and strategy fans will find something to enjoy after you get the basics down. The extra game modes give this game a good replay factor, especially if you enjoy the multiplayer mode, but it might not appeal to some players. The small graphics and typos can also be a bit of an annoyance, but once you get into a game, they are easy to forget.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Blowing up an enemy vehicle with your tank. Shooting things with a tank never gets old.
Deep gameplay that will really have you scratching your head on the harder missions
Cameos from some of pop culture's icons will keep you laughing
Bad luck with early attacks usually costs you your chance to win a scenario
Graphics could have been just a little bigger and more detailed