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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption; Transolar Games

    Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has been out for about three weeks now. Commercially, it's done about as well as you might expect from a game with exactly zero mainstream reviews. Who cares about that, though? We like it! It's not a great game, but it is a good game, and most importantly, 20 years after Quest for Glory V, it's indisputably a Corey and Lori Cole game. Frequent contributor Deuce Traveler has written a review that should give you a good idea of what it's like to play Hero-U. Here's an excerpt:

    In Hero-U, you play as wannabe master thief Shawn O'Conner, who is caught stealing a certain special coin from a rich man's manor. To atone for his crime, Shawn is forced to attend the titular Hero University. At Hero-U, you're just one student in a classroom full of aspiring rogues (though they insist upon calling themselves "disbarred bards" in public to avoid scrutiny). Your teacher, Master von Urwald, encourages you to take the virtuous path of the roguish hero instead of that of the thieving villain. Over the course of the game, you'll have to survive through the fifty day long school year, with the goal of making it to graduation without being expelled or killed. Expulsion is the most immediate threat since the school hands out demerits like candy. You start out with a few coins worth of valuables and have to find a way to purchase your own school uniform before the school administrator Terk starts dropping them on you. If you collect 100 demerits then it's game over.

    Terk is a great example of an effective one-dimensional villain. He's a power-hungry weasel, delighting at every opportunity to torment you and your fellow schoolmates. As a character he has no real depth outside of being weak and opportunistic, but the man is utterly relentless, always ready to drop a demerit on you for the slightest perceived insult, or if he catches you walking around past curfew, or if you aren't wearing your full uniform during school hours. Every time Terk spots you he'll stop you in your tracks just to heckle you, making you want to strangle the man for the needless disruption. The petty asshole is everywhere, constantly abusing his power, for which you have no immediate means to strike back.

    Terk does a good job of setting the game's tone. In Hero-U, you're not a paladin ready to take on swarms of foes, or a sorcerer who can bend the fabric of reality. You're just some poor kid with a bit of talent for sneaking, thrown into an unfamiliar academic setting where you have to put in real effort to survive. In this game, time is your greatest enemy. You spend the majority of your days in class, with about an hour to yourself before your elective class starts, another hour before dinner, and another three hours before curfew. After curfew you'll want to shower so people don't complain about your stench, do some studying, and chat with your roommate before going to bed. You could stay up late, but if you overdo it you'll be too exhausted to stay awake during the next day's class and suffer penalties to your skills.

    Therein lies much of Hero-U's difficulty. I'll get to the combat system later, but for now just be aware that you can successfully retreat from a fight at any time, and if you fall to an enemy often the game will tell you that a classmate rescued you from death. But despite not having to worry about death, the experience of playing Hero-U is stressful because you always have to keep one eye on the clock. Over the course of the game, you'll have to find the time to explore the dungeons beneath the school. Having to sneak past threats down there will slow you down, and one wrong move can cost you hours. Personally, I found this enjoyable, since it kept my mind focused and I never felt like I could just glide effortlessly through the game. But I could see people feeling that Hero-U is just too slow to give them the buzz that they need. I will admit that it gave me unpleasant flashbacks to my college freshman year. No other game has ever done that to me, so at least I can say it's a great university simulator.

    The downside of Hero-U's time-based structure is that there are some situations that seem like you should be able to solve them right away, but the game won't allow you to until enough days have passed. For example, early on I discovered some secret passages that a nighttime thief may have been using, but I wasn't allowed to set a trap for the thief until I'd collected all of the clues to what was going on. It's frustrating when a game that allows so much choice still finds ways to railroad you, especially when there's no hint that you need to sleep in order to progress.

    Do you like choice and consequence? Every decision you make in Hero-U has some sort of consequence. The type of training you decide to take will improve your character in different ways, as will your choice of elective. If you decide that your basic thieving skills are more important to you, you can ditch the electives altogether and ignore invitations to hang out with your classmates, giving you the time to build a very talented character at the expense of losing out on craftable items, clues and extra coin. The story continues whether or not you decide to become involved with events.

    Ignoring important quests in favor of other pursuits will result in one of the other students stepping up to solve them instead, which will impress your teacher. Impressing your teacher doesn't actually matter much unless you care about what he has to say when you graduate, though. You can also decide to be an asshole, earning the appreciation of the class bully at the expense of alienating everybody else. For example, at one point your roommate thinks someone stole his instrument when it was actually lost in a pile of junk. You can give it back to him, but you can also keep it to mess with his head. Hero-U wants you to perform good deeds, but it also allows you to pass on all of the heroics and gives you the opportunity to selfishly pull the rug out from under everyone at its conclusion.

    As INXS would say, there's not enough time for all that I want to do. In order to survive, you'll have to quickly figure out what kind of disbarred bard you want to be and train up your skills accordingly. Skills can be increased by taking classes or by practicing them. Shawn's scores are pretty pathetic on day one and you won't be able to max them all out in a single playthrough. The first time I played the game, I was only able to max out my Climbing and Magic skills, while on my second run I maxed out Smarts and Gaming skills. Every one of your skills has some use. When you try to use one of them to overcome a challenge, it's compared to a hidden threshold. For example, you need a high enough Gaming skill to beat your fellow students at a game of billiards and take their money, otherwise you'll lose and have to pay them. If you have no magical skills, forget about being able to cast a spell to get through a magically locked portal. And if you're charming enough, you just might be able to pass one of the toughest challenges in the game and get your roommate to clean his side of the room without pissing him off.

    The game has three such social skills - Charm, Smarts, and Moxie. Different characters will respond more positively to different skills depending on their personalities. Charm dialogue options allow you to be compassionate when people are talking about their issues, but you might also come across as a bit of an ass kisser. Smart rogues come across as cold and calculated, but the skill can be helpful for walking people through solutions to problems. And Moxie allows you to unleash your inner troll and piss off everyone with snarky comments. You should focus on one of the social skills and stick with it, since different characters will be drawn to you and different events will open up depending on your choice. Storywise there isn't much of a difference between Smarts and Charm, but playing a character with high Moxie will drastically change your outcome.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption
     
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  2. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

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  3. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Cool, thanks.
     
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  4. HiddenX The Elder Spy Patron

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  5. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    When I first heard the name, I thought it was a Wii U game like ZombiU.
     
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  6. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Oh and
     
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  7. V_K Arcane

    V_K
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    One small nitpick:
    You also die and have to reload if you loose a boss battle (minotaur, roach etc.)
    Otherwise :obviously: review. A bit more positive than I would have written, but it's hard to be hard on Coles.
     
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  8. Mark Richard Prophet

    Mark Richard
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    The protagonist seems like he's written to assume you're playing a mischievous slacker with a heart of gold. Is it possible to befriend the bully?
     
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  9. ghostdog Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

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    Nice review, thanks!
     
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  10. DeepOcean Arcane

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    Whot? I did max most of them on a single playthrough. Guess your Shawn was too lazy Deuce Traveler.
     
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  11. Deuce Traveler Prestigious Gentleman 2012 Newfag Patron

    Deuce Traveler
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    Yes... if you are a snarky smartass to every decent soul, you can improve your relationship with him.

    I also want to give a shout out to oasis789 who did much of the editing, though the staff also contributed to edits.
     
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  12. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    It is quite telling that all of the mainstream gaming sites have ignored this game, but they are oh so ready to point out a pimple on Howard the Toad’s asscheek or how many aliens you can bugger in Mass Effect

    Snarky comments aside this is a wonderful game, and it did surprise me with it’s depth rather than beign a pastiche of the Quest for Glory series it almost feels more like an evolution of those concepts, I couldn’t wipe the grin out of my face while playing

    Hope that this gets the success it truly deserves and thanks for the review Deuce
     
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  13. Quantomas Learned

    Quantomas
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    Totally agree with the review.

    Hero-U is a rare gem that provides you with a well crafted setting and it depends on your own initiative to make the most of it. There are not that many games that channel this with the competence the Cole's display. Especially the first playthrough is a blast, as you go about to figure out what you can do with the game's mechanics. Exploration at its finest!

    Once its fame spreads Hero-U will attract its own audience.
     
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  14. NotAGolfer Arcane Patron

    NotAGolfer
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    You could have at least mentioned that many of the tools in combat feel samey (bombs vs throwing knifes vs flambe, gooey vs traps) and that the C&C are mostly limited to choosing a quest direction through one or two dialogues, and afterwards just following the very very linear quest solution in a nearly brain-dead manner. Adventure game puzzles are mostly nonexistant. In fact I can only think of finding the obvious things to attaching your rope or throwing your grappling hook to, the curtains in the golem area and a few bomb placing spots, also clicking on the right place to hide in certain situations and remembering about the items in the Hero Hall showcases. Most other stuff basically solves itself through dialogue options without the need to think at all. There might have been one or 2 puzzles where you had to open the inventory at the right time/place and use sth in there, can't exactly remember. 3 or 4 tops though, it's mostly just choosing an option in the text window after you clicked on sth/sb.
    There isn't much meat to this outside of the very mediocre combat and deciding which skills to specialize in (you can max out at least half of them without much grinding, 2 is ridiculous, so it's more about what to choose early on) and paying just enough attention to what's going on to find to the NPCs with new lines each day.
    The story is nice enough but all the horny teenager noise is a bit distracting and takes away from even that.

    I get it though, we wouldn't want the Coles to lose their house, would we? :lol:
     
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  15. markec Twitterbot Patron

    markec
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    Thanks for the review, I do hope this game gets more publicity.
     
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  16. Morkar illiterate

    Morkar
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    From the review the game sounds awesome. It's just not your typical fantasy rpg. More like a prequel or "Origin" story for the Quest for Glory games. Damn starving for years and by now too much games to play...
     
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  17. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    One thing I kind of disagree with Deuce Traveler about here is how novel the game's mechanics are. The schedule, the romances, the combat, it sounds very much like an evolved version of Quest for Glory V. And QFG2 had the whole schedule thing too of course.

    Actually, the most interesting thing about Hero-U may be that the Coles have been wanting to make a game like this since the very beginning.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
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  18. lukaszek Arcane

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    or.. KCD beloved monastery part
     
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  19. NotAGolfer Arcane Patron

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    Devolved. QfG V is the better game. It's just not as pretty. But at least you have to think a little. Combat is cancer in both.
     
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  20. DeepOcean Arcane

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    A few points:
    This game has less puzzles than Quest for Glory 1, so if you are an adventure gamer and is after that, you will be disappointed.
    The dialog is really well written, the writers were skillful enough to have a personal style and go beyond generic RPG nonsense, there is a charm to the writing that is pure Quest for Glory but they failed into building a good villain, the game doesn't end on a climatic setpiece, there is that school bully but he doesn't get on your way enough to be an antagonist, so the game ends on a really disappointing anticlimax.
    The combat is ultra shallow and a mindless affair not much improved from the Quest for Glory games and anyone that played those games know how crappy the combat on the series always was, problem here is that contrary to the Quest for Glory games, killing stuff is half of the game.
    The game expects you to follow a routine and have events that only happen at a certain day, no matter what, be prepared to do ALOT of backtracking because the game expects you to do the same activities every day, if you don't have patience for that stuff, be warned.
    The pacing of the game is very slow for the first two weeks with nothing of importance happening, then from day 20 to day 35 or so, the game is at its best then the game fizzle out on the last week where there is practically little to no content left. This is a case of too much bread and not enough butter.
    While at first you have an impression that you need to specialize because of the timer, that is just an impression and you will end as jack of all trades extraordinary.
    Stealth is so broken that even at low levels, enemies will only notice you if they practically bump into you, their Stevie Wonder syndrome and the fact that you will probably waste more money on healing bandages and potions fighting them than getting anything useful back makes stealth the winning strategy and fighting on, unfortunately, there isn't much to stealth than clicking the stealth button and becoming the unseen ultra ninja with zero effort.
    There are boss fights but they are an ultra mindless cakewalk if you have high fitness, something really easy to do.
    A positive side of the game is that you can end the game without killing anyone, problem is that this is so easy to do that doesn't feel like an achievement.
    The very few inventory puzzles that are here are of the kind where the designer was so afraid of people failing to solve the puzzle that they give you a puzzle and give you the solution on a silver platter right afterwards. I had a puzzle where Shawn pretty much spelled the solution for me. Well, thanks Shawn for playing the game for me.


    I heard Shane's interview with the Coles and I have the impression the Coles wanted to make a casual friendly game but I think they gone a little too far here, the game is so easy that if you are a barely competent player, it becomes mindless. You know, they sounded like those well intentioned teachers that are way over concerned with the self steem of their students and actually don't teach them much of substance because they could fail at it.

    I'm being really negative here because Deuce Traveler review pretty much covered the positive aspects of the game, well, I played 25 hours of it so I did the honored Codex tradition of playing it seven times to discover it was shit, actually it isn't shit. I would place it on the same category of Alpha Protocol, the "MY God the gameplay of this game sucks flaming giant balls but the concept is so interesting that I will keep at it.", it is the traditional Good for what it is game. I hope they fix this stuff on the next game, IF there is a next game.
     
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  21. l3loodAngel Proud INTJ Patron Edgy

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    Alpha Protocol does little to inspire confidence and waiting for next game is so 2000. How many times have we been waiting for the next game that turns out to be...
     
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  22. Nekot-The-Brave Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

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    Thanks for the review. Tbh, I thought this was going to be a shit game. Glad to know that was wrong.
     
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  23. Awakened_Yeti Augur

    Awakened_Yeti
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    man i fuckin loved Heroes Quest 2 back in the day... with all the underground guild antics and the wacky djinns and so forth...

    combat was highly exploitable (not as bad as the first game where you could literally kill anything with a dagger by holding down one button [i.e. "attack"].... but pretty close to it)

    good times
     
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  24. Gylfi.Fenriz.Conquests Augur

    Gylfi.Fenriz.Conquests
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    i hope Hero-U, which is all Sierra games were, aside from puzzles (and puzzles aren't Sierra per se, either) will remind some of what roleplaying is, because modern games in the past 20 years went either the BG way, real time tactics, or the mass effect way, choices of ethical dialogues.

    Instead the Sierra way was picked up by games such as Deus Ex and Fallout, which coincidentally let you be a "Thief".

    There's nothing more important than the gameplay formula the Williamses invented, then, in videogaming, in my opinion.

    Sorry im more and more interested only in history and what a videogame does for the future of the media, so intentions more important than real results, so everything i say will sound stilted! whoever's interested in the historical topic might even reply in pm so we don't bother the talk about the actual game.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
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  25. cherry blossom Arcane

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    Solid review, it actually sparked an interest in me.

    I just realized, I think I have yet to play (or finish) any of their previous games.
     
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