Heroine’s Quest looks, feels and plays like a game recently recovered from the 90s. It’s perfect for anyone who’s enjoyed the early Quest for Glory games.
Its main strength is also a caveat: the game plays like a game from the 90s, which means the game expects the player to conform to it and not vice-versa. There are no dead ends but you will die a lot and some puzzles are quite difficult. Moreover, the game will force you to replay sections until you figure them out.
You can also forget about modern conveniences like a hotspot highlighter or fast travel. As Aurvandel, a well-written quirky wizard, presents it: “you’re a traveling heroine, so you should expect to do some traveling”.
One modern innovation that made it into the game is a virtual theater system, meaning non-player character follow a schedule and it’s entirely possible for the shop you want to be closed or the guy you want to be asleep, making you wait (in-game) for them.
The story is pretty standard hero fare. You reach a town beset by a large problem, fix smaller problems along the way, then battle the big bad and save the world. There are some twists relating to side-quests and minor characters, but in general the game is fairly straightforward.
The combat system at the default difficulty setting felt more like a puzzle. Enemies telegraph their attacks and no real reflexes are required for most part. Then you get a leisurely several seconds to choose your attack, rinse and repeat until the baddie is dead.
Puzzles, as mentioned before, can be quite hard. The good news is there are several paths to each objective. However, if you want to do everything heroically you will need to pay careful attention to your surroundings, remember a lot of Norse mythology and unfortunately occasionally wrestle with the “one true object” issue where only one item will work despite others sharing the relevant characteristics. It’s also possible to irrevocably screw up these more heroic paths, so save early and often. Oh, and the game occasionally throws red herrings your way, just to keep things interesting.
The writing in general is very good. Voice acting was a bit too dramatic for my taste so I frequently skipped ahead. The game is also chock-full of references to nerd culture and other games - you will meet Cedric the Owl as well as some men of definite low moral fiber, characters spout Monty Python references and there’s even an odd reference to the developers’ previous game.
It’s not a perfect game. There’s an arbitrary 50 save limit that’s really unnecessary. Some logical puzzle solutions don’t work. There are some puzzles that cross into the “unfair”. The pacing is somewhat uneven. Still, the game took around 25 hours to complete in a single class, most of which were enjoyable. If you can stomach (or miss) the old style of computer games, this is a definite recommendations.
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Time Played: Over 20 hours