Welcome to Mechanically Beautiful, where we look into the widely debated topic of whether or not video games are considered art. I am here to say that yes, I do believe video games are a form of art. If you are not a believer of this idea, then maybe these articles will change your mind. But even if they don’t, you will get a chance to hear about and maybe look into some beautiful games in the industry. Today we take a look at the online card game, “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft”.
“Hearthstone” is an online trading card game (TCG for short) created by the company Blizzard Entertainment, the same people who brought you the ever so famous “World of Warcraft”. Now “Hearthstone” is a TCG that Blizzard built from the ground up to be completely online they have no intention of making a physical version, so because of this decision much of the beauty to “Hearthstone” comes down to the presentation and animation quality. Blizzard is no small company so they had the necessary resources to create very smooth and beautiful animations. When you play each card, they all have a nice, little quotes like “Fear the mighty Millhouse Manastorm!” this gives each of the cards a nice feeling of life and gives you a nice chuckle if you get the references. This game is full of references to “WoW” and other Blizzard games. Some cards, when played, have bonus animations because they have effects call Battlecrys. For example, when you play Leroy Jenkins, little black whelps fly onto the board from the sky. Now the attacking animations are probably the weakest but still good. The oval minions smash into your hero or other minions causing explosions of rubble. The explosions also get bigger depending on the attack power of the attacking minion. My personal favorite part of the animations is the spell card animations. They’re absolutely amazing and colorful. Things like the Mage Pyro blast sending a massive, orange fireball across the board or the Warlock’s Twisting Nether, which engulfs the entire board in a giant black hole. There are many spells in the game and each one has fantastic effects. I could go on about them for hours.
Probably the most important thing is the quality of the card and hero portraits. “Hearthstone” uses a system where there are nine classes which affect the cards in your deck. Each hero has a portrait of a famous character from “WoW” that matches with the class. Paladins have Uther, Mage has Jaina, Warrior has Garrosh, Druids have Malfurion, Rogues have Valeera, Priest has Anduin, Warlock has Gul’dan, Hunter has Rexxar and Shaman has Thrall. Each one of the heroes and villains has a stunning portrait that portrays them in their most modern outfits and they even have quotes to fit their character. I absolutely love the intricacy and detail in each of the hero portraits. They have a look as if they were almost hand painted. The cards that you actually play are just as amazing as the hero portraits. Of course, each card carries the theme of “WoW”, however, this doesn’t make them ugly or boring by any means. Each card is unique and detailed. Some of them even show little scenes of action. For instance, the Rouge card, Assassinate, it shows a small gnome jumping on top of a troll and stabbing it to death. This level of detail makes each card interesting and fun to look at and make you stare for awhile sometimes forgetting to actually play the card.
One of the most unique factors of “Hearthstone” is the stages you play on. The area that the cards go down on are, much like the cards themselves, skillfully designed. There are a few different stages that come from “WoW”. One of the stages for example, is Stormwind. Each stage has four corners that have building references to the area it is supposed to be. Each of these building are coming up off of the table with a interesting vanishing perspective. The best part of these stages is the fact that each of the buildings or objects on the corners can be messed with. You can click on different parts of the stage and make interesting things happen. For example, clicking on the windows of the Stormwind church causes the windows to shatter. I think having different stages in a TCG is a very nice touch.
“Hearthstone” is a game that just oozes love and care and more importantly is writhe with great detail. The game is also greatly colorful and vibrant much like the style of “WoW”. I greatly enjoy this game, as well as looking at the great artwork within the game. Most importantly, I think fans of TCGs like myself will really appreciate the attention to detail with everything from the cards to the great animation quality.