We spend an hour with the Heavenstrike Rivals Steam release

Square Enix and Mediatonic‘s Heavenstrike Rivals arrived on Steam this week, previously released on iOS and Android smartphone players. It’s a free-to-play strategy RPG that features character designs by Ryoma Ito (Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift) and music by long-time Square Enix arranger/sound programmer Ryo Yamazaki (Final Fantasy XIV 1.0).

In the video below, we play through the game’s first hour starting from the title screen.

The game starts off with you creating your profile, which includes your character’s name and their appearance. A brief introduction setting up the game’s story ensues. We learn that the land of Lunnain — a land suspended in the sky by massive chains — is under attack by a monstrous force known as the Fallen. The player character is abruptly thrown from combat practice to battling Fallen in the streets of the massive skybound city.

Heavenstrike Rivals is a turn-based strategy RPG, and the flow of combat revolves around player and enemy phases. Take down the enemy leader and you win. If you’re player avatar is taken out by an enemy unit, you lose. Placed at opposite ends of the arena, you must select units from your deck drawn at the beginning of your turn and play them in one of three lanes. When placed in these lanes, units will advance towards the enemy’s leader each turn until they are either incapacitated, immobilized, or taunted. This also goes for your rival too. You’ll need to strike a balance between advancing on an enemy leader while defending your own.

Each unit has two major stat values: health and attack power. However, each unit has their own special traits that include how many spaces they may move in a designated turn or what abilities they can use. There’s a huge variety of units you can add to your party by winning battles or recruitment, and they can function in several roles. Tanks will absorb damage and will keep your leader or more frail units safe. Damage dealers come in the form of melee damage and ranged casters; healers and support units will keep the party alive and kicking as long as they’re in play. Keep in mind that there are only so many units you can play each turn, so what to play and when becomes a large part of your strategy.

After battle, you’ll earn experience points, new units that can be combined to make existing units stronger, and equipment that can be used to promote a unit to the next tier. When your player character attains Level 5, you’ll be able to participate in PvP matches against other players.

Heavenstrike Rivals uses the similar trappings of gacha-style freemium games. In order to take on a mission, you’ll need to expend a stamina-like resource that will slowly replenish over time. Should you run out, you’ll have the choice of waiting or recharging through microtransactions. This also extends to recruitment. You can earn a currency to spend on recruiting random units (with ascending tiers of quality) naturally in-game, but it can also be purchased.

Heavenstrike Rivals is now available on Steam (Windows PC), iTunes (iOS), and Google Play (Android).

About the Author

Tony Garsow Tony joined Nova Crystallis in 2015, and has spent more than a decade writing in the Final Fantasy community. He also contributes to the Nova Crystallis Twitch and YouTube channels, where you can watch select gameplay highlights, previews, and streams.