What's the point of life? Obviously, to get the best funeral possible so let's live every day as if it's our last and play Hero must die. Again.
Hero must die. again has you control a hero who must die. More specifically, he has five days to live and gets weaker as time marches forward. Now that he has slain the evil demon Guile, he must live his final days as fruitfully as possible. What this means for you, the player, is that you must try and help the citizens of various towns while defeating bosses and uncovering treasure. If you get a lot done, you might just have a ton of people attend your funeral when you inevitably die and some of them may actually shed a few tears which is... good? Yes because each run literally grants you a score which consists of how many people attend your funeral and how many of them cried. What an exceptionally unique and strange game! With that being said, I guess the title pretty much says it all, doesn't it?
Hero must die. again's gameplay consists of traversing 2D environments then travelling between locales on the world map which takes time, of course. The locations consist of towns and dungeons and some of them are rather complex such as the Labyrinthine Forest. Both towns and dungeons are structured similarly except the former has more NPCs and the latter has more monsters and treasures. The combat is as standard as RPGs come as you select commands for each party member and exchange blows with your foes and character progression isn't much deeper as all you do is level up and equip 1 weapon and 1 piece of armour on each character.
Basic core gameplay aside, the main appeal of the campaign is meeting the cast of quirky characters from the try-hard rival Zoro to the kind-hearted Princess Flora who you can actually get engaged to and the copycat hero Yona to the wild beast-like Naomi who certainly doesn't like wearing much clothing. Completing quests for characters may allow you to recruit them to your party and even if it doesn't, the fact that you'll be missed more when you perish is a nice bonus. Anyway, although the graphics are nothing special and rather dated, at least there's a fantastic soundtrack by legendary composer Kenji Ito that complements the diverse game world.
The world of Hero must die. again is quite small as it only includes a handful of locations to explore so you can imagine how repetitive everything gets after playing through a few times. On the plus side, I enjoyed the fact that you can alter areas by completing certain quests. For example, you may return life to a destroyed town and transform a forest. As you progress through each playthrough, you can refer to your journal to see what you've accomplished and possibly get a hint or two for other things that you can do. There's also an extensive gallery to browse through as well as pieces of advice from Julia, the angel who gave you the five extra days to live.
Finally, one issue that regularly frustrated me is just how difficult Hero must die. again can be. Keep in mind; I'm not talking specifically about challenging battles. Instead, I mean that figuring out what you can do is often needlessly confusing and random so you'll frequently end up wasting a lot of time while wandering around aimlessly. Plus, in the last couple of days, the hero becomes super-weak and the enemies tend to focus their attacks on him even when you have a full party of four and if he gets knocked out then time moves ahead six whole hours so he can recuperate. As a result, it's hard not to get irritated at how unfair this aspect feels.
Hero must die. again is definitely not the largest JRPG ever made but what's here is unique enough to warrant a playthrough or ten, especially if you want to enjoy something different for a change and have some affection for unconventional Japanese RPGs.
- + Unique premise that creates a quirky Groundhog Day style campaign
- + Plenty of interesting characters
- + Great soundtrack from Kenji Ito
- - Game world is very small and repetitive
- - Core gameplay is rather basic
- - Difficulty can get quite frustrating