Have you ever wanted to be in an RPG? Well, come to Heroland and you'll know what it's like to go on an epic adventure... sort of.
Heroland has one of the most imaginative and clever premises for a video game that I've ever seen. Basically, an amusement park named Heroland has its guests partake in RPG-style mini-adventures complete with dungeons, battles, and plenty of silly drama. You play as Lucky, a fellow who merely wants a job so he gets hired at the park as a tour guide which basically has him stand by while his guests battle quirky monsters. This actually ties in with the gameplay as you simply watch battles carry out while occasionally providing some assistance to maximize your guests' enjoyment and ensure that they don't get knocked out. If you think this sounds tedious and boring then you're correct but the cast is fantastic so you'll likely enjoy your stay in Heroland if you take pleasure in reading lengthy dialogue scenes with the colourful cast which are full of layered meta humour, lighthearted banter, and goofy references.
Speaking of characters, they're undoubtedly the main appeal of Heroland and as you progress in the campaign, you'll end up meeting a ton of chums and each of them has their own distinct personality yet they all have a certain degree of vanity because after all, they want to be heroes. Anyway, the graphics are spot-on for silly times as the characters are pixelated cardboard cut-outs and the enemies are stereotypical monsters, many of which have funny attacks. You can even collect them in plushie form which ties in with the amusement park theme. Meanwhile, the audio is great as it features a unique gibberish voice for each character and charming music that actually sounds fine while sped-up whenever you fast-forward battles. Overall, Heroland looks and sounds great so let's discuss its gameplay.
As with most dungeon crawlers, Heroland's gameplay loop involves setting up your party then heading out to a dungeon in order to hopefully make some progress. The dungeons are basically a line with a start and end goal and along the way, you might see a branching path or 2 which basically feature different varieties of monsters. Some nodes contain events and others have treasures as well as a boss fight near the end and it's all very standard stuff. In the end, this linear dungeon layout becomes exceptionally tedious.
Setting your party up primarily consists of equipping folks with weapons and choosing a handful of items that you can use to assist your party whenever they're in a sticky situation. While battling, you can provide assistance to your party by changing their overall strategy, using items, and whispering to members to perform certain moves. After issuing each command, your Assistance! gauge must recharge so you'll basically spend most of each battle just sitting there. In fact, most battles play out just fine if you don't do anything at all. My strategy essentially had me heal when needed then whenever we faced a boss; I changed everyone's strategy to go all-out.
You'd think that for a game where you don't do much, there wouldn't be much grinding yet Heroland forces you to grind at regular intervals so your characters will be levelled up enough to be able to take on higher level story missions. Needless to say, taking part in side-quests and free dungeon runs is monotonous and repetitive, especially considering you could just leave the game running while tapping the confirm button every once in a while. Having to grind when the gameplay is so minimal does not make for a fun time.
Heroland may be a supremely charming and genuinely funny experience yet its minimal gameplay eventually makes it a chore to play.
- + Imaginative premise and delightful world filled with hilarious characters
- + Lots of characters to play with
- + Charming audio and visual style
- - Minimal gameplay that basically plays itself automatically
- - Loads of necessary grinding
- - Dungeons are linear and uninteresting