While there is an abundance of indie games being released every week on the Nintendo Switch, some genres tend to stand out as being used the most. these are platformers, puzzle games and sometimes even metroidvania’s. Heroine Anthem ZERO: Episode 1 is the first part of of yet another platformer metroidvania game developed by Wind Thunder Studio and published by Winking Entertainment. But this metroidvania focuses mainly on the story, and it’s just that reason that makes it stand out of the pack.
Heroine Anthem ZERO is the first in a series of games to be released on the Switch after previously releasing on pc, Humble Bundle and PS4. The game was actually released in Taiwan way back in 2002 before coming over to the West a few years ago. At its core, Heroine Anthem ZERO is a 2D hack’n slash platformer with beautiful hand drawn characters and animations. The game has a distinct look and feel to games like Castlevania and particularly Odin Sphere, as the game focuses heavily on the story.
As soon as the game starts it greets you with several minutes of backstory. You play as character Wanin Sarem , a forest keeper, and you are accompanied by a party traveling through a forest in the land of terasyr. Wanin discovers a forest guardian going wild, requiring you to put it out of its misery. Very clearly, your cast takes note that something has upset the balance in the world of Humans and Fae. Upon reaching a village, Wanin and his group of friends are tasked with escorting his sister Naire Sarem. As Heroine of Engora Valdraken, leader of a ritualistic festival the Star Ark Festival, Naire is burdened with a task held once every 66 years.
So you head out on an adventure of a lifetime and as the story goes on you will see that it has alot to offer. The game spans many stills and fully voiced dialogues between the characters. Many characters, backgrounds, and still images are well drawn and beautifully colored with vibrant and contrasting palettes. Do note that this game often shows a bit of ecchi or ‘fanservice’ moments where you see the characters bathing, changing outfits or end up in hilarious straight forward positions.
The game has fully voiced dialogue, but not ing English. So unless you know the language at hand you will have to read alot. This didn’t bother me in the slightest as I am used to reading in RPG’s, but for some an English dub might have been welcome. When talking, the camera often zooms in on the characters to see their movements or emotions better, but it also blurs out the pixelated art-style a little. Which is a shame as it looks great normally, but you see that the characters aren’t as densely pixelated to keep them feel sharp from close by.
The action in Heroine Anthem ZERO has been kept fairly simple. You have your jump, double jump and dash button and then you have the attack buttons. Your attacks mainly consist of a three hit combo that can change a little in animation and power as you level up your character. You can also kick your oponent to break its guard and you also have your faerie Mormolia at your side that you use to charge your opponent, dealing heavy damage but it comes with a cooldown.
The gameworld has interconnected segments which is typical for a metroidvania where you can traverse from area to area, but to no big extent. We never really felt lost or had to check the map to get back on track to our destination and the puzzles we needed to solve were never brain busters. But you do want to explore every nook and cranny, as the 2D backgrounds feel like you are in a huge breathing world going much farther then the roads you walk on.
Musically the game isn’t on par with masterpieces like Odin Sphere, but it gets the job done. We never really had a soundtrack that sticked with us but luckily the imagery did. In the end we really liked this first episode and we hope we can get our hands on the second installment for Switch soon.
Heroine Anthem ZERO is a great looking story driven metroidvania that feels like a younger sister to games like Odin Sphere. The game has a few minor faults but if you like a good story with a great artistic visual look then this game might be up your alley.
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