Review by zhangisiung
A 2D Action RPG with pretty good visual and potential for future sequel
Heroine Anthem Zero is a 2d side scrolling action game with RPG elements developed by WindThunder Studio. This game is available on steam, and if you want to know more about what this game has to offer, Ive summarize my impression after finishing it, read on below.
Mormolia, your cute (but sometimes can be quite annoying) fairy companion will guide and introduce you through most of the in-game mechanic, and she will even go as far as breaking the forth wall to let you know how the game works.
The control feels quite tight if you play this game with a controller, you can jump, sprint, attack, kick (unlocked at some point in the game), order Mormolia to stun your enemy, and if you collect up to 3 heroic vigors (which is a form of power up) in the game, your attack will be stronger and you will be able to perform a cooler combo with each of the vigors that you collect. This power up is dropped by enemy in the game, and they also sometimes drop money (called Cimu in the game) as well as restorative items to fill your hp. Be careful however, if you get hit pretty hard by the enemy the power ups can be lost and you will have to recollect them again.
My issue with the control is that you are unable to block, while Wanin the warrior that you play the game with clearly hold a shield in one of his hand. And if you play using a keyboard, you will certainly encounter more difficulty as you will need to do TONS of platforming in the game which requires you to jump across the ledge, avoiding harmful obstacle, as well as combating the flying enemy.
And keep in mind that you cannot remap the button assigned to your controller or keyboard (theres no in-game option that lets you do that). So I personally dont recommend playing this game using a keyboard, unless if you are planning to die a lot.
Speaking of dying, the player will encounter save points and camp (where you can rest and recuperate your hp in exchange for some Cimu) quite often, it is scattered generously throughout the game so it is advised to save often to avoid losing your progress.
Later in the game you will also unlock fast travel so that you wont have to do lots of backtracking. (although if you are a perfectionist like me, backtracking and exploring the whole map might be quite rewarding as this game also hide permanent power up to increase your hp, which is hidden across the area.)
Another way in the game to increase your stat is to change your equipment. The only merchant in the game will sells you new weapon and clothes should you give him scrolls which serves like blueprint that you find throughout the game. New weapon will bestow you with new ability and passive skill which is crucial for later part of the game.
Stat progression however is not determined by level in this game as there is no leveling up system in the game.
7.5/10 using a controller
9.5/10 if using a keyboard
Without leveling system in this game, you will not be able to grind and out-level your enemy. The game gives you some obstacle that can kill you no matter how high your stat is (such as falling to ravine), and blocking is non-existence here which is a factor that can crank up the difficulty as well.
The game bosses also provide quite a tough challenge although they usually attack with some kind of pattern, after you figure out their pattern; you will be able to beat them eventually.
As for the puzzle in the game it is quite easy to solve and does not require very serious thinking. But once again if you play with keyboard as I mentioned in the gameplay section the game can really frustrate you.
The story telling is done quite well in this game, although it relies heavily on cutscene (containing narration & still pictures) and in-game dialogue between the characters to advance the plot, the interaction between each character feels natural, and the dialogue never feels forced, with numerous jokes and parody in between (which remind me of Tales series). You can even find the parody of Skyrims infamous arrow to the knee joke if you explore and talk to one of the NPC in the game.
As for the lore of the game, it certainly borrows a lot of elements from Christianity and Viking/Norse culture.
The graphic in this game reminds me of Odin Sphere, a game with similar genre released back in 2007. If you like anime style of drawing, you will not be disappointed. The anime drawing in this game is quite an eye candy to behold. But keep in mind that there is some scene containing nudity & sexual reference in this game, so its not exactly an innocent game.
The game has a smart way to express the character emotion throughout the story by the use of emoticon with various gestures of the character 2D sprite model. Combining all that stuff with the change in expression of the in-game character portrait when they converse with each other really makes the character feels much more alive.
Wanin, the character that you played with will also change the look of his weapon when you give him a new one. Changing his cloth however, will not change his look; it will only give you color/palette swapping of the cloth.
Another issue that I have with the graphic is that you are not allowed to choose and change the resolution of the game in detail. The game only offers you two options, playing with windowed screen or full screen. However that is not a big issue for me as the game fortunately is still good enough to be displayed even when it is stretched on my 29 inch monitor that I used to play my game.
The music in this game fits the place and situation that it tries to portray. For example the music in the grassland feels calm and relaxing, while the music in the darker place such as Longhorn woods is darker and more haunting. However, do not expect any superb/ state of art music, also if you die a lot and have to re-try a more difficult area in later part of the games, the music can be quite repetitive to hear.
The voice acting in this game is only available in either Mandarin language or Japanese language (and its not bad in my opinion), however the subtitle is also available in English, so English speaker should be able to enjoy this game as well.
Play Time/ Replayability: 5/10
The game can be finished in around 8-9 hours and I am playing it without rushing. It only allows the player to play as Wanin which is the stereotype of a warrior/melee class and there is no side quest so it definitely feels very linear.
Also with no definite ending when you finished the game, I am sure that the developer is planning to unleash more sequel/DLC/ additional character for this game. As this review is based on the vanilla version of the game, there is definitely no more incentive to replay the game once you finish it, unless you are going to buy the next DLC as well.
Final Recommendation / Overall Score: 7/10
If you are planning to pick up this game, I recommend waiting until the developer has released the game pack with full DLC/content. However if you are a fan of JRPG, or 2D side scrolling Action RPG and you desperately need your fix, you may want to give this a try now.
Product Release: Heroine Anthem Zero (US, 12/22/16)
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