Taichi Panda: Heroes is the successor to the popular action RPG, Taichi Panda. It takes the theme and mechanics of the original into an entirely new realm -- a massively multiplayer one. This ambitious title is flashy, fast-paced, and a little rough, but it has a lot to offer to certain types of players.
The core of Taichi Panda: Heroes is, of course, the RPG, and if you're the kind of player who loves all of the crunchy bits that come with certain JRPGs and tactical RPGs, you're going to like what Taichi Panda: Heroes has to offer. There is loot to be found, abilities to be upgraded, hero combinations to unlock, runes to slot, and synergies to exploit -- and even at launch there are several possible heroes to collect and use. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but once you figure out how to make use of all your item slots, abilities, and combos, it can be a lot of fun to tweak your hero and your team.
The main form of interaction and progression in Taichi Panda: Heroes is, of course, combat -- and this is really where the game shines. The fighting is fast-paced, exciting to watch, and challenging at high levels of play. You can play as actively or passively as you want -- there are options to automate almost all of your character's actions (which can be a good choice if you're grinding or if you're playing on a smaller device). But even when the combat is un-interactive, you're still responsible for putting together a strong team with abilities that work together.
The game has astonishingly good graphics for a mobile game, and even during huge fights with tons of enemies it didn't chug or slow down, even on an older device.
There's also a robust team-based component that lets you work with other players to run dungeons, take down bosses, and complete objectives together, and this is naturally the end-game for Taichi Panda: Heroes. The netcode and connectivity of these adventures works surprisingly well for a mobile game, and you can adventure as easily and smoothly as you would in any full MMO.
Even though Taichi Panda: Heroes has a distinctly non-mobile level of sophistication when it comes to graphics and gameplay, there is no mistaking it for a mobile game -- it's got all of the bells and whistles that come with that designation. It's free-to-play, which is exactly what it sounds like -- the number of quests and mini-games you can engage in is limited by your stamina, which regenerates on a timer, but you can use real money to purchase more playtime, or cosmetics, or boosts, or really anything you want.
It's not explicitly pay-to-win -- the biggest thing slowing your progression down is your level, which goes up the more you play. And unless you're really grinding out the instances, you should have more than enough stamina to play when you want to. Snail Games is also really good about giving out free stuff -- rewards for logging in, for reaching milestones, as compensation if there are network issues, etc. My bags were full of goodies just from playing regularly during the trial period.
The bigger issue is that all of this is kind of busy -- there are tons of notifications, boxes to click, currencies to track, and icons cluttering the screen. A little UI improvement would go a long way toward making the game more playable.
Taichi Panda: Heroes has some kinks to work out (server stability and bugs are an issue as well), but at the end of the day, the game is fun. If you like loot-pinata ARPGs like Diablo 3, you'll probably enjoy the fast-paced smash-and-grab playstyle of Taichi Panda: Heroes, and it has the advantage of letting you play with your friends. It wouldn't be very competitive as a fully-fledged desktop or console game, but as a mobile offering, it's impressive. And if Snail Games continues to work on improving the design and the stability of Taichi Panda: Heroes, it could easily go from good to great.
Disclaimer: The reviewer was gifted in-game currency for the purpose of this review.