Heimdall is an isometric adventure game developed by The 8th Day and published by Core Design in 1991.
At its core (no pun intended) is a simple exploration and puzzle game, based loosely on Norse Mythology, but with a few RPG elements thrown into the mix. Like having a party of characters from which to choose, and also having a separate screen for combat, when you encounter it.
In general you’re moving from room to room, looking for keys, treasure, new weapons, and magical items, and fighting any monsters who get in your way. Which is relatively often, but encounters are not random, they occur when you walk into a static enemy – usually one placed strategically, or guarding a specific chest or item.
If you’re an RPG fan, like me, then you’ll probably wonder “WTF?!” when you actually get to experience the combat in Heimdall. It’s not the clunkiest or most outdated choice of combat ever, but it’s close… What you basically have to do is click on an item (like a sword), and then click ‘attack’ to make a move. The same with spells, although it’s a different button you click for casting. It’s all done in real time and is a little confusing, especially after using a spell (or any consumable) and all the items shown on-screen shunt down a position, making it even more confusing! Often the clicks you make during combat don’t even register, so you have to be careful to watch what’s going on – don’t just assume your clicks are working. You can tell when an item is activated in combat because it shows a red outline. If you click something and it doesn’t show a red outline: your click has failed. It’s a big problem with this game and almost ruins it.
Archaic combat aside, Heimdall is a fairly enjoyable game. It has to be said that the inventory is extremely restrictive too and will probably drive most players nuts. If you make sure you keep using consumables, and aren’t afraid to discard the odd Detect Traps spell, then you should be alright.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the introductory sequence where you have to play a series of sub-games to unlock all the available characters, and influence their stats. Thankfully it is skippable, but if you want to have access to all the crew members at the beginning you’ll have to complete it.
Heimdall was successful enough to spawn a sequel – Heimdall 2 – which was developed by the same people. It’s generally accepted to be better than the first game.
More: Heimdall on Wikipedia