Wild Hearts Review - Build Me Up
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Wild Hearts Review - Build Me Up

You only need to glance at Wild Hearts for a moment to see the similarities it shares with Capcom's Monster Hunter series. Both games are about exploring large, open areas--either alone or with other players--to find and defeat giant monsters, then harvesting and using their parts to craft better weapons and armor. Developer Omega Force has explored the genre before with the Toukiden series, and those two games represent perhaps the best examples of the monster-hunting genre outside of Capcom's own influential best-sellers. With Wild Hearts, Omega Force hasn't just set out to create a simple imitation, though. Sure, it has plenty of familiar elements, but the novel Karakuri system gives the game a unique identity that sets it apart from its contemporaries.

In the fiction of Wild Hearts, Karakuri is an ancient technology used by hunters to conjure impressive pieces of technology out of thin air. In action, it's a fast-paced crafting system that serves multiple functions, opening up your available options both in and out of combat. You start with what are known as Basic Karakuri, the first of which lets you produce a wooden crate that launches you into the air when you climb on top of it. You can stack up to three of these crates at once to generate extra height, which proves useful when exploring the environment but really comes into its own when fighting Wild Hearts' various monsters, known as Kemono. You can launch from these crates and transition into a devastating downward strike, or utilize the added elevation to quickly avoid an area-of-effect attack that spews out a pool of lava or poisonous clouds. Most Karakuri serve a dual purpose such as this, whether it's a springboard that proves useful in dodging attacks and propelling you toward Kemono, or a glider that allows you to traverse large gaps and position yourself above monsters for an aerial barrage.

Erecting these Karakuri is quick and simple, so it doesn't take long before you're integrating the various devices into each combat encounter. Constructing a crate, springboard, or torch in the heat of battle eventually becomes second nature, and being able to do so is just as essential to each battle as knowing how to use your specific weapon of choice. Later on, you also unlock various Fusion Karakuri, which use different combinations of Basic Karakuri to create larger, more elaborate contraptions. Stacking nine crates together in three rows, for instance, produces a rock-solid wall that can block incoming projectiles or halt a charging Kemono in its tracks, launching the beast into the air before leaving it in a vulnerable heap on the ground. You can also summon gigantic bouncing hammers, powerful bombs, and blinding firework cannons that can knock flying enemies out of the sky.

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