|Shawn had finally discovered Hero-U's disco dance floor|
- Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Transolar Games
- Publisher: Transolar Games
- Release Date: 10 Jul 2018
- Time played: 33.7 hours
What is it
Lori and Corey Cole are probably best known for an old series of games published by Sierra On-Line called Quest for Glory. Unlike the other "Quest" games that Sierra developed and published, Quest for Glory wasn't only a point 'n' click adventure but an RPG to boot, giving you four classes to choose from: Fighter, Mage, Thief and Paladin (the Paladin was introduced in Quest for Glory 2). Five Quest for Glory games were released over a period of nine years and best of all, you were able to use the same character across all of these games by importing character saves. To me, it was a series ahead of its time and if it weren't for Quest for Glory, I probably wouldn't have appreciated the Mass Effect series as much as I did (another game that has a heavy focus on characters, story and a persistent player character, along with some RPG goodness).
Anyway, when the "real" Sierra finally closed its doors (i.e. Yosemite Entertainment) in 1999 not much was heard from the Coles in terms of computer game development for quite some time. It wasn't until 2012 that they decided to pitch the idea of a new game called Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption on Kickstarter. They managed to successfully raise $409,150 from 6,093 backers on 21st November 2012. The original concept for Hero-U was quite different to the final product and due to the considerable change in scope, the Coles returned to Kickstarter for a top-up of funds in 2015. They successfully managed to raise $116,888 and 3 years later, the game was finally released in July 2018.
Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a mix of an adventure and RPG but the adventure part feels more like a visual novel (thanks to the interface). Like some visual novels, you also have a limited time to do things each day since its set at a school. Hero-U is set in the same universe as the Quest for Glory series and has you play the role of Shawn O'Conner, a student at Hero University who is studying to become a Rogue. Your goal is to become "Rogue of the Year" by completing multiple quests that will prove your worth to your class, teacher and even the entire university.
How I got itI backed both the original Kickstarter project and the 2015 one as I'm actually a big fan of the Quest for Glory series (which should be no surprise considering I made it a point to slip it in to the Choicest Games Top 100 and I even created a video to promote it back in 2012).
|It wouldn't be a game by Sierra alumni if it didn't have puns|
What I like:
HugeDespite being restricted to the university and various dungeons/catacombs/caves beneath it, there's actually quite a lot you can do in this game. Despite finishing the game twice (which took over 30 hours to do) I still haven't experienced everything that this game has to offer (and probably won't since I'm not actually that good at powergaming).
Quest for Glory universeFans of Quest for Glory will be pleased to hear that the game is set in the same universe as Quest for Glory; in fact, Sardonia is an island kingdom that's not too far away from Silmaria (the setting for Quest for Glory V) and there are references to not only other locations that featured in Quest for Glory (e.g. Fricana) but also characters such as Elsa von Spielburg, Erana, Uhura, Rakeesh Sah Tarna and the Famous Adventurer (who runs the university).
Sneaking past your enemiesI love games that give you the opportunity to actually sneak past your enemies in order to do, well just about anything, such as reaching a room which has an enemy boss you need to fight, or sneaking past some guards so you can pick the lock of a treasure chest right behind their backs. It's great, and I was able to take advantage of this especially towards the end of the game where I was finding it quite difficult to go toe-to-toe against some enemies (especially those of the supernatural kind).
ReplayThe game encourages replays thanks to being able to pick different electives to study (i.e. Science, Magic or First Aid), different classmates to romance and different side quests to complete. One great thing about the electives system is that it acts like a substitute of the dual class system in D&D, i.e. you can complement your rogue skills with useful items or spells such as bombs and healing potions.
Steam Achievements and Trading CardsThere are 20 Steam Achievements to earn and 8 Steam Trading Cards to collect if you own the Steam version of the game.
PunsIt wouldn't be a game by Sierra alumni if it didn't have puns and boy are there a lot of puns in this game, in fact…
|More work could've been done on the running animations|
What I dislike:
Puns… the game might possibly have way too many puns considering that almost every conversation tends to involve a pun at some point. While they're funny the first time (if you're even into puns in the first place) they'll get a bit old after a while – hearing a pun the 200th time you ascend a flight of stairs is really starting to push it 😉.
So much readingRemember how I mentioned that the game is a bit like a visual novel? Well, as people who play visual novels know, there's generally a lot of reading involved, which is normally not a problem especially during your first playthrough but you'll probably find yourself skipping a whole bunch of text the next time you play.
AnimationsSometimes you'll come across sub-par animations but the worst offender has to be one you'll see quite a lot: Shawn's running animation. Seriously, it looks really goofy and I'm surprised it made its way into the final product.
No voice actingIt's a shame that there is no voice acting in Hero-U although to be fair, the first three Quest for Glory games didn't have voice acting either; also, Lori and Corey Cole would've needed a lot more funds if they wanted to hire professional voice actors.
Graphical glitchesWhile most of the game is free of any graphical glitches, I did encounter a couple, such as visual artifacts while crossing a puzzle room with a whole bunch of pizza tiles (remember, pizza is one of the crucial ingredients in scientific formulae, at least according to Doctor Cranium).
Easy to be misledAfter failing to achieve the "good" ending on my first playthrough of the game, I realised there were two aspects of the game which were actually more important than I realised.
Firstly, your teacher's strong recommendation that you gain the title of "Rogue of the Year" isn't just a recommendation, it's actually critical if you want to get the "good" ending.
Secondly, almost half of the game is locked behind a door that can only be unlocked by solving a puzzle. Granted, the puzzle was pretty simple in retrospect, it didn't strike me as a priority to get through the door since I was just going to focus on my studies and improving my skills, which is what a student would normally do in order to, you know, do well at school.
Apparently, I was going about things the wrong way and was in fact squandering my chances at completing quests because in this game, the countdown to complete quests aren't triggered once you start the quest but are actually tied to the passage of time. So, if you're not at a particular place by a particular time, too bad, you've missed your opportunity.
Hero-U gives you a greater opportunity to fail which is a bit different to the Sierra adventure games of yesteryear; while those games were seemingly brutal with the multiple ways you could die, it may have been mercy in disguise since at least you would know early on if you were going down the wrong path. Hero-U, on the other hand, manages to lull you into a false sense of security and by the time you realise maybe you should've done something differently, it's too late, and you feel robbed for waiting so long just to receive a "bad" ending.
Bad ending is badIn order to complete the game, it takes roughly 14 hours and this is even if you end up with a "bad" ending. The "bad" ending is very short and just involves Shawn having a dummy spit about nowt becoming "Rogue of the Year" and then the game ends. It disregards any friendships you've built along the way and humility isn't rewarded (which is quite a bit different to how the Heroes conduct themselves in Quest for Glory).
The good ending doesn't seem terribly good either but maybe that's because it doesn't feel as epic as the endings in Quest for Glory or maybe because there's no epilogue (so you can't determine what has happened to all the other characters you've grown attached to through the course of the game).
Score – 8/10 (Recommended)If you're a fan of Quest for Glory, you probably already have this game (so I'm not going to bother convincing you lot 😊). So, for those of you that don't, what's appealing about Hero-U? Well, if you're looking for a fantasy adventure/role-playing game with lots of choices to make, characters to befriend (and romance), dungeons to explore and more puns than you could possibly endure, then Hero-U is worth a look; just keep in mind that if you don't want to do what I did and waste hours just to experience a "bad" ending, make sure you get to exploring the lower levels of the castle as quickly as possible.
Is the game worth $34.99 USD?: Yes. While initially I thought the price was a bit steep (that's $50 AUD we're talking about here) there is a lot of content in this game, and if you're into playing a fantasy visual novel/adventure game mixed with RPG-lite, then Hero-U should be up your alley.
If you like this game, you might like…
- Quest for Glory series (1989 – 1998)
- Heroine's Quest: The Herald of Ragnarok (2014)
- King's Quest (2015)
[ LINK: Official Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Website ]