Heroland – Review
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: FuRyu, Netchubiyori Ltd.
Publisher: FuRyu, XSEED, Marvelous
Platform: Switch, PS4, PC
Tested on: Switch

Heroland – Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Quirky characters
Bad: Gameplay isn't very engaging
User Score
9.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Feel like going on an epic quest? What about standing in line for overpriced merchandise? If you said yes to either of these questions, then Heroland is the place for you! We took a visit to this fantastic new theme park that FuRyu, XSEED and Marvelous have brought to a console near you. We’re sure any similarities with HBO’s hit show Westworld are purely coïncidental.

Story

A rousing introduction welcomes you to Heroland, a fascinating island filled with monsters, treasures and quests. It is the place to be for budding adventurers, promising amazing adventures, and it even has a money-back guarantee! Sounds exciting, right? Well, maybe less so for you, the player. You see, you arrive at Heroland not as a hero in the making, but rather as a lowly intern. Heroland isn’t what it seems: it’s a harmless theme park where no real danger exists and the enemies are trained actors. As Heroland’s new employee, you’re tasked with accompanying the adventuring parties through dungeons and making sure they have a good time. You can choose which name you give to the afro-haired protagonist, but most characters will end up just calling him Lucky, no matter which name you choose. Lucky’s story is a pretty simple affair: After being accused of destroying a priceless ancient vase, he’s forced to work off his debt as a dungeon guide. Hijinks ensue, though we’re not going to venture into spoiler territory. 

Storywise, Heroland is a game that shies away from using elaborate story arcs. In fact, while it sticks to a very simple premise, the game takes the time to make fun of pretty much every RPG cliché with some excellent meta-humor. You’ll run into a varied cast of well-written and quirky characters, such as Prince Elric, his clueless butler, and the aptly named Otterman, who looks and acts like an otter, but claims to be a human. It’s all very cute and quirky, but the game isn’t afraid to throw in adult jokes as well. 

Graphics

A couple of interesting graphical choices were made for Heroland as the game uses classic sprites but there are placed in a 3D environment. Depth is added to the character sprites by giving them thick black edges when turning around, making them very similar to cut-out objects. The quirky nature of both the character designs and the theme park setting are emphasized by the color scheme and everything looks fantastic, with smooth animations. One thing that should be noted here are the loading times, as it seems these are the result of the graphical presentation. Given that this isn’t a game that’s more about the writing and less about visual appeal, we’d happily take a game that looks less polished if it meant faster load times. 

Sound

Heroland features a cute and quirky soundtrack that enhances the playful nature of the game. There’s no true voice acting, but the characters do convey emotions through gibberish. Although voice acting would have been preferable, it makes sense given the genre and presentation. After all, this approach still works better than having characters make no sound at all in dialogue scenes. 

Gameplay

At the heart of Heroland lies a classic JRPG, complete with random encounters and combat mechanics. The twist is that you’re actually not controlling the party directly but act as their guide through the “dungeons”, which are actually elaborate attractions in the theme park that is Heroland. The dungeons are where the bulk of the actual gameplay happens. You’ll be tasked with assembling a party of four adventurers, and take them from room to room, tackling any obstacles that stand between the party and the treasure in the final room. Most of the rooms have the party face off with a variety of monsters, although you’ll run into the obligatory shop or NPC occasionally. As the player, there is very little you can do to control the actions of the party. In combat, they’ll act on their own accord for the most part. Combat isn’t strictly turn-based but time-based. Each action takes a set amount of time to charge before being performed. Protagonist Lucky has a charge timer as well, and once it’s full, he can perform his own actions. These actions are the only way you can control what the party does: during Lucky’s turn, he can use an item, tell one party member which specific action to take next or give general instructions to the entire party, such as focusing their attacks on the same enemy. It’s a clever gimmick, but it does get repetitive after a while and the result is a game that never offers satisfying combat. A welcome feature is the option to fast-forward combat up to 11x speed.

Defeating enemies earns the party rewards, and Lucky is in charge of deciding who gets what… including Lucky himself. Rewards you claim can be used to decorate Lucky’s house, but you’re likely far better off dividing them among the party, as this influences their satisfaction. At the end of the dungeon, you’ll be judged on how happy the party was with their dungeon adventure. The more satisfied they were, the better the rewards. Since Lucky has to pay off his massive debt, keeping the party happy is a good way to reach that lofty goal. Apart from the dungeons in the storyline, most of which will force you to take certain party members, you’ll also be able to revisit dungeons to grind party experience and rewards. Given the limited control you have over the party, you’ll find that you’ll spend plenty of time revisiting older dungeons to level up your party before tackling the story dungeons. 

Although the dungeons make up the bulk of the game, it’s the time spent outside of them that will stick with you the most. The sections between dungeon-crawls play like visual novels for the most part, with limited choices for Lucky to influence the dialogue -something that is lampshaded in a couple of excellent meta jokes- but the charming characters and fantastic writing are the real reason to play Heroland. 

Conclusion

Heroland is a great game that has a couple of flaws, such as long loading times and unengaging combat. These flaws are more than made up by the well-written cast of charming and quirky characters, however. Despite the kid-friendly presentation, the occasional bit of risqué humor makes it clear this is an adult-oriented game. Overall, Heroland is well worth a look. 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Heroland - Review, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Sebastiaan Raats
Sebastiaan Raats


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