Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heroine's Quest

As I mentioned earlier this week, I've spent a lot of time recently playing the independent game Heroine's Quest, published by Crystal Shard. The game is a clear spiritual successor of the 90s cult classic Quest for Glory series. Indeed, I would go so far as to say it could easily have been a reboot of it, so similar are the two games. Here a few similarities, in no particular order:

1. You play an aspiring hero whose starting class is immediately chosen from Fighter, Mage (Sorceress), or Thief. This choice not only affects the RPG elements, but also changes the options you will have to solve the various puzzles in the game.

2. You are trapped in a small town, where the local nobility is powerless against the evil forces that have beset it. It is thus your quest to save the town from these evil forces and be awarded the title 'hero.'

3. Your character is defined by a set of attributes and skills that you slowly increase through logically connecting activities. Climbing a wall increases the Strength attribute and the Climb skill; dodging the bite of a wolf increases the Agility attribute and the Dodge skill; talking to random animals increases your Wisdom attribute and the Animal Ken skill, and so forth, although not all attributes are necessary tied to a skill, and some of them are tied to multiple ones.

4. The gameplay is a hybrid of adventure and RPG. You solve puzzles using conversation and items you find in the world; but you also climb walls, defeat foes, cast spells, and befriend small animals.

5. Sprinkled throughout the game are a variety of humorous bits, real world jokes, and cameos; this was one of the hallmarks of the Quest for Glory series.

6. You even start off by finding the Adventurer's Guild and signing the logbook, which is about as classic Quest for Glory as you can get.

Despite being almost identical to the Quest for Glory series mechanically, Heroine's Quest has much to set it apart. First, it's got an amazing amount of lore to the game. It's set in a Norse culture, and the lore of frost giants, dark elves, multiple realms, trolls, and the like all play a part, as do such legendary deities as Thor and Loki. Additionally, the game is also much bigger than any of the Quest for Glory games, with two fully fleshed out worlds to explore and a huge cast of characters that can be interacted with. You can even use the Thief class to skip through most of the puzzles in the game simply by stealing all the items you need from the major NPCs rather than solving them through traditional means.

The production values are also excellent. While rendered in classic 320x200 resolution with 16 bit graphics, the artwork is done well. All of the characters are also voiced with surprisingly good voice acting considering that the game is free. The storyline plays out at a good pace, rarely leaving you without multiple things to be working on at a time. The puzzles can be a bit obtuse at times, but never so obscure that you can't figure it out. And even then, their website includes a full play-through of the game, with solutions to every problem and a guide to earning every point.

If you were at all a fan of the Quest for Glory series, you need to try this game. You won't be disappointed.

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