Originally published in Japan, Heroland finally found its way West almost a year after release. Heroland had a modest amount of hype behind its original release because its collaborators included Mother 3 director Noboyuki Inoue, who wrote the story, and Mother 3 artist Nobuhiro Imagawa. Despite the legacy of the development team, expectations of the game should be mitigated given the relative size of the game. On its surface, however, Heroland seems to combine its lively art style and quirky humor with a captivating gameplay loop.
Heroland puts you in the role of a brand new Heroland employee hired specifically as a tour guide. Heroland is not a typical theme park. It’s more of a resort where people can come and live out their heroic fantasies of conquering dungeons and defeating evil lords. Think Westworld … but in the style of a typical fantasy role-playing game. Regardless of this, the player character soon encounters a situation that requires his apparently permanent position as a tour guide.
As a tour guide, the player’s job is to guide various heroes and group members through dungeons to find bravery and treasures. As a guide, players are responsible for choosing team tactics, keeping the heroes alive, and helping if necessary. Basically, it is a good barometer of success to bring the group to life through dungeons. Although most of the gameplay elements, such as selecting attacks, are automated, the choices players make when it comes to support remain paramount to success.
While enemies aren’t real monsters (they’re your castmates and peers), their defeat increases customer satisfaction and affects how they level up. The choice of equipment, party members, and formation plays a role in the game, although it gets a little banal after a while. The good thing about Heroland is that it can be played in pieces. Dungeons are divided into battles, events, bosses and treasuries. The players move from panel to panel and allow gameplay moments in “snack size” that are suitable for a quick game session at any time.
The writing of the game, like the gameplay, is best digested in pieces and not as a marathon. While the comedic aspects of the game have their moments, they can be a little ridiculous depending on your taste. However, the writing fits very well with the graphical style and the game as a whole remains true to its form. While gameplay can get a bit banal, the ability to speed up battles is always appreciated, especially when you return to older dungeons to smooth out abandoned characters with a grim level.
As for the aesthetics of the game, Heroland’s artistic direction remains in tune with the rest of the game and gives the game a carefree feel. The colors are vivid, while the game looks relatively simple but effective. The characters are well designed, make them unique and also fit their personality. I quickly found a few characters that became my favorites and invested more in fighting to make them happy.
All in all, Heroland is a solid title that finds its niche, holds onto it and builds it up. The humor and style may not be for everyone, but for those who like it, they will love it. While the game starts a little slowly, it doesn’t take long to dive deep into it, although the game can be enjoyed in both small pieces and much larger pieces. In Heroland you will not be the hero, but you will make it possible for everyone else to become one, and that is completely fine to. The game is just flipping the RPG genre so things stay interesting, and who knew that being a tour guide in an RPG theme park could be so fun?
Heroland gives the RPG genre a unique twist that makes you the creator of heroes. A game that is fun for both small and longer bursts of play.