When Transolar Games and Silesia Games‘ new adventure role-playing game for the Nintendo Switch came across our team sharing board my initial impression was what you might expect. At first glance of the description and screenshots, I took it for an independent attempt as a Harry Potter clone. In doing more research I was treated to an eye-opening history lesson. You see Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption was initially released on PC back in 2018. It was created by Lori and Corey Cole, who worked on the Quest For Glory series from Sierra Games. This might be a familiar adventure game series if you’re an old-timer like me. “Hero-U” is not a direct sequel to the Quest For Glory games, consider it more a “spiritual successor”. Welcome to our review of Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption for the Nintendo Switch!
Familiar Territory In All Its “Glory”
As you get into Hero-U you’ll realize that the game features the same recipe of role-playing, adventure gaming, humor, storytelling, and “pointing and clicking” that the Coles introduced in the Quest For Glory series. And unfortunately, it’s some of these features that will try the patience of the impatient and especially the non-adventure game fans.
You’ll play as the male figure Shawn O’Connor who is forced to become a new student at “Hero University”. You’ll attend classes, make friends and enemies, practice “hero” skills (e.g. lock-picking), explore the University, fight occasional monsters, etc. There is no character creator or things of that nature, you’re immediately dropped into the game, feet to the fire.
Its A Double-Edged Dagger
While I consider myself an adventure game “pro”, or minimally an enthusiast, even I was unexpectedly initially frustrated. The game begins with your avatar posing as a thief in training entering a single room on a quest to find a “lucky coin”. This particular test of patience is that there are a lot of item hotspots to click on. Clicking on them can open up five or six action verb choices many that lead nowhere. And all these objects have detailed descriptions to read. It took me longer than I’m embarrassed to admit to get past that room, but once I did things became more entertaining.
No matter how tired you get with interacting with hotspots and reading descriptions and making choices the completionist in you will want to investigate each option. You see the game’s design is such that interacting with certain objects may lead to a new quest(s). The other novel system is that “doing things” can cause your skill points to go up. Climb some stairs and your climbing skill might increase. Walk a tightrope and you might increase your agility. Throw some practice daggers and you might increase your throwing skill. With fifteen skills to unlock that’s a lot of “doing”.
So Much To Do, So Little Time
Hero-U takes place over fifty days that increment in real-time. Just as you feel you’re making progress you then might need to adhere to a dinner schedule for example. This means you can miss events and side quests if you’re not in the right place at the right time. But the game doesn’t pigeonhole you or penalize you if this happens.
The other gate is making sure you don’t do anything to rake up one hundred “demerits” otherwise you’re expelled. People like headmaster Mr. Terk don’t make this easy as they impose demands on you like enforcing you to wear the official uniform. Well, to buy a uniform you need Lyra, the in-game currency, to buy a uniform. This means taking on odd jobs to earn Lyra like clearing out rats in the cellar, the combat element to Hero-U. It’s worth noting that combat in Hero-U is turned based, which means it doesn’t require a trigger finger. It’s also avoidable altogether as there are, for example, alternate methods to acquiring Lyra like cooking.
Socially Active Is A Plus
Hero-U also has a reputation system. This means talking to NPCs and going through all the dialogue trees to find the best answers. It’s a tried and true adventure game technique but one that the impatient will not cherish. Some of the attempts at humor through the dialogues seem forced at times. There should be a limit to how many puns you can use in one conversation. It’s appreciated but sometimes gets old especially when you’re trying to make progress in the game. Talking to NPCs can also open up new quests in your handy, clean, and readable auto-journal.
Hero-U also supports on-demand saves as well as multiple saves. There is also the typical equipment screen as well as achievements.
As far as portability goes this version of Hero-U includes both Joy-Con and touch screen controls, which you can easily switch between while playing. There’s also a “run mode” trigger via the LR button which is nice as you do a lot of traipsing from screen to screen. The game played well in docked and undocked modes and the graphics, while having a nostalgic feel, fared well on the big screen and the little screen.
Supposedly this is the first of a series of games wet at the Hero University. So hopefully more will find their way to the Nintendo Switch. If so we’ll be happy to embrace them with open arms!
Note: Our copy was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.
Compare To: Quest For Glory