Playtesting Feedback from Raf M – January 2018
I am a backer of both Hero-U Kickstarters and have been an alpha tester since October. I am a long time Quest for Glory fan.
Corey asked me to write down some of my impressions of the alpha. English is not my native language, so please excuse me for any mistakes or strange sentences. I will try to avoid any real spoilers.
Just to be clear: this is not a review and not my final opinion. The game is still in alpha. Some features still need to be implemented or improved. Some parts of the game are not yet playable. This includes important parts of the story (including the endgame). So it is too early to really judge the game.
As most of you will know by now, you play as Shawn, a young man who ends up in a school for heroes. Shawn needs to find his place in Hero-U. Does he really want to make efforts to become a hero, or does he just want to learn skills that will benefit him? Does he want develop close relations with his classmates, maybe even find someone special? Or does he put his own interest first?
Shawn has his main class (a class for “disbarred bards”, officially there is no rogue class in Hero-U) and optionally there are some other classes too. Shawn can get to know his fellow students and the school staff, who each have their own agenda. He can do this through extensive conversations, but also by eavesdropping at certain moments. What Shawn does or says has an effect on his relations with the other people in the school.
Shawn can explore the castle where the school is located and also several more dangerous areas connected to the castle (after he discovers the entrance). In these areas, there are monsters and other enemies. Shawn will also need to find ways to make money.
Like the Quest for Glory (QfG) games, the clock is running during Hero-U. There is a day/night and hour system. Time is a limited resource. Since it is a school, lessons and dinner start at a fixed hour, so it’s up to Shawn to arrive on time (or not). Also like QfG, there are certain events on certain days (like the elementals arriving in Shapeir in QfG 2). It’s up to Shawn to act (or not) during those events. What Shawn does (or does not do) will have an effect later in the game.
I think the game is best described as something quite similar to Quest for Glory. The game tells Shawn’s story, there are RPG elements (stats, ability checks, weapons and equipment, turn based combat), there are adventure game elements (puzzles, an inventory with usable items) and there is lots of conversation.
Improving your abilities is done by practicing or using the abilities. This was always part of QfG games. In Hero-U, practising Shawn’s abilities is integrated in his school activities (the students are expected to practice and there are exams at several times during the semester). Shawn will need these improved abilities if he wants to make progress in the story of the game.
The lessons are one of the ways in which the story is told. And you better pay attention, because otherwise you might fail your exam (the game tries to discourage saving and immediately reloading to pass exams).
Hero-U very clearly takes place in the same world as Quest for Glory, several years after the events of QfG V. I think QfG-fans will enjoy all the references to the QfG games.
The story and dialogue are the main elements of the game. I’m not going so say more about it to avoid spoilers. But I think Quest for Glory players will recognize the tone of the game and will feel right at home.
The turn based combat is still a work in progress, but from what I saw until now, I think it is enough of a challenge without being difficult. Shawn can do more than just hack and slash. He can use traps and other items, which he will need against more powerful opponents. If you do not want to fight, you can sneak around most enemies.
I think the visuals look good, especially considering the limited budget of the game. Due to the setting, Shawn spends a lot of time inside and in the same rooms (including in the classrooms, practise rooms and dining hall), but I think there is enough diversity, especially once you start exploring the more dangerous areas.
I like the background music al lot (and more music is still being added).
The in-game backer rewards (paintings, tombstones, ghosts, wanted posters, …) are already included in the current alpha and are nicely integrated in the game.
I have the impression that the Hero-U team is working very hard. They are very open and responsive to tester feedback and are improving and expanding the game in every new build. I think the game is coming along well.
Based on what is currently playable in the alpha (and that is already quite a lot), I think that the gamers who liked Quest for Glory, will like Hero-U. I think it is clear that Hero-U is also a Lori and Corey Cole game.
In my opinion, the game succeeds in making you feel that Shawn is at a school, but it’s essentially still a story driven RPG/adventure game hybrid, not a “school simulator”.
I have spent quite a lot of time playing the alpha. I immediately liked the core of the game. If I didn’t, I would not have invested so much time playing an unfinished game with inevitable bugs. I am always looking forwards to new builds, so I can make more progress in the game.
There is still more work to be done, but there is already a lot of content in the game. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is getting bigger and bigger. In my opinion, the alpha is strongly indicating that the long wait for the final game is almost over ant it will be worth it.