[Review] Heroland – Nintendo Switch

Written by Paige Detlefsen
  • Developer: FuRyu
  • Publisher: Marvelous Europe
  • Release Date: 31/01/2020
  • Price: £32.99 / $39.99
  • Review code provided by Marvelous Europe

Not a Coffee Grind

In Heroland, you work in the self-titled theme park which lets customers role play the part of a heroes through crafted and casted dungeons. You, nicknamed Lucky come there to work, but quickly (no thanks to your exposition fairy) find yourself in indentured servitude to your employer. The island hosting Heroland is a dark place where the cruel realities of employment are shown, yet the game itself is lighthearted. This game is a comedy RPG but with a different approach on gameplay.

Working Nine to Five

As the tour guide you take a party of four customers who can be under the main four generic roles (warrior, tank, mage and healer) and a freelancer who can do all (but only one at a time). The dungeons are made of mostly linear paths (though sometimes you have different forks you can pick between) where they’ll engage in combat with cast mem- I mean monsters. Until you get to the end with a boss fight before the treasure. It is your job to keep the experience running smoothly to prevent party wipes. Everyone works on a timed system where they’ll decide their move, then cast it as you can only control yourself. You are the only one with access to items but have no skills of your own (which reminds me of another game I’ve played). As a turn based RPG you have the usual status effects to watch out for like crying and hiccups. You can also change tactics (such as tell everyone to guard, not use SP, go all out and so on) or guide an individual party member to do a specific action. Your intervention is sparing, as it is apparently tiring, you’ll only be able to input less than half as much than the others. It might seem that your actions aren’t needed but without just a bit of planning you can lose a run.

Aside from their basic weapon attack, they have attacks that use weapon or character SP (that is a move unique to them). This does not replenish in-between battles meaning there is a finite amount per dungeon run (unless you use a replenishing item), as such you manage more than just their health. Outside of your input, party members sometimes start conversations which end with a special move (often a buff). When monsters are defeated they gain experience and sometimes treasure will drop. These drops are weapon replicas, plushies and furniture. Not only are you managing the combat experience but you want your customers to have the best time. Giving them personal input in battle or treasure will add to their smiley faces and friendship level. At the end of a tour those smiley faces will level up Lucky which gradually lets him intervene more often and carry more items. While friendship levels will unlock side quests for you to do (and eventually upgrade their character skill) which aside from having their own plotlines also make grinding a little easier. Free tours become available meaning any customer can be taken. Unique to those is an event before the boss, such as the store lady selling you SP restoring donuts or you can go for a donut roulette at someone’s SP expense.

Heroland Nintendo Switch

The grind of work never ends as you must spend your earned money on items for the customers. Weapon replicas should be kept once so that you unlock new weapons at the blacksmith, randomly at the end of a tour weapons will break and need to be bought again. If a rare plushie is kept you can purchase their capsule which is a tool that lets you summon that monster in battle. While it’s important to get those smilies to level up yourself, sometimes you’ll want not only the replicas, but other plushies and furniture. Since you have a room you can decorate! Really the smart thing would be to take some to sell back, but then you won’t have a sweet slug collection.

As you progress through dungeon tours you’ll unlock many more customers. Some of which will seem more useful than others. However story and side quests have VIPs which are characters that must be in the party, so you can’t neglect anyone. You might be forced to do different party compositions, like the one with no healers, or three! Thankfully benched customers still get some experience, and the large amount of side quests you do means that only a couple of characters might need to grind up to speed. You can even lose your best me- customers. Plus the game does have its own mecha slugs if you know what I mean.

Once every three or so story quests you’ll finish the whole dungeon and move on. Yet at the start you’ll have a new batch of sidequest and free tours in the old dungeons. Though they’ll mix up the monsters with some of the new ones to keep it fresh. Outside of the occasional requirements and new monsters the dungeons are mostly straight paths of little interest. You’ll have a staff meeting that teaches you about the upcoming dungeon too. Tours have recommended levels and you’ll struggle if you’re more than a level or two behind. If you follow that, the game isn’t much of a challenge.

Oh My Fae

Heroland Nintendo Switch

Heroland is dialogue heavy (with no voice acting), as the comedic presentation is a major factor of the game. I found it to be always amusing at the least with plenty of laughs at times. One of my early favourites was proving the fairy is real with fairy dust, then later in the chapter flipping a suspect upside down to find “phantom thief dust”. A couple of jokes might go on a bit too long but I found it to be generally entertaining with plenty of references to modern game and pop culture practices. As part of your job you’ll help cosplayers fulfill their personal roleplays, or witness matters of non-linear royal succession. In every dungeon and elsewhere they’ll be events following character interaction, the side quest plotline or the story’s arc and overall plot. Personally I found the phantom thief part of the story to go on for far too long. The game doesn’t have a serious story or particularly deep characters though I did find a couple to have more emphasis.

The game has 3D models that are made to look flat, with pixel art laid over the top of them. While it’s meant to make them look like sprites I found it reminded me more of funny shaped gingerbread men. These models will sway and have some animation, though they walk as if they are dolls being placed up and down. Backgrounds and any non character/treasure assets are flat 2D with a cute and colourful cartoon-y style.

The soundtrack was quite a weak point, while the various sound effects were more memorable. It ran perfectly and I didn’t encounter any technical or performance issues. There is an option to fast forward combat, but the steps between encounters in dungeons is irritatingly slow. Heroland looks great whether handheld or docked.

 Living on a Prayer

Heroland Nintendo Switch

While not a full price game it certainly has the length of one. A run itself might be about fifteen minutes at the most (and allows you to save or heal midway) but I found myself doing over an hour of the latest side quests each chapter. It can feel very repetitive, especially as you can’t let it play itself but don’t have full input. Making it the kind of game best played a little bit over a long period of time.

The hands semi-on approach probably wasn’t the best choice for this game as it’ll turn many off. While the humorous writing lasts throughout it won’t tide most of those who don’t enjoy having their control restricted. Personally I am one of those people and was still able to have a good time but that’s likely more an exception than the norm. Once I got past the initial bump and could input more I found I didn’t need to as often. Heroland does have interesting ideas with its gameplay mechanics and it would be really cool to have more RPGs use tactics and friendship levels as the protagonist’s strength. Therefore emphasizing their importance as a leader and a hero, yet here you’re just another employee.

Pros

  • Hilarious dialogue
  • Cute collectables
  • Different management mechanics

Cons

  • Game only demands partial attention
  • Lengthy and repetitive with the aforementioned partial involvement
  • Dungeons are almost entirely combat encounters with unnecessary steps in between

Verdict 

Heroland is an RPG about work with modern humor but the role of tour guide won’t be a fit for everyone.

3.5/5

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