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Game Info:

Herolike
Developed By: Games Hut
Published By: Black Shell Media
Released: February 19, 2016
Available On: Windows 
Genre: Action, RPG
ESRB Rating: none
Number of Players: Single player only
Version reviewed: 1.5.0
Price: $7.99 on Steam

*Advertising disclosure* Though Black Shell Media is an advertising partner, this review is not influenced by that relationship.

Thank you Black Shell Media for sending us a review code.

Games Hut's Herolike is a fantasy RPG that promises an experience similar to juggernauts like Diablo yet wants to add a customizable spin to it. It says you'll travel through a fantasy world, create the hero you've always wanted to be, and to save the land. First released in 2016 on Steam's Early Access, Herolike seeks to give an adventure that's defined by you. At least, that's what it advertises.

Herolike's structure is segmented into choosable missions: Friendly, Hostile, Defense, and Gamble. Friendly missions involve aimless story snippets with random either/or questions tacked on. Hostile missions involve battling in one of six designated arenas. Defense missions are specialized fight or flight sequences, and Gamble will randomly send you into one of the previous three. Your accomplishments are rewarded with money, skill points, and 'renown.' Before you ask, no. I'm not sure what function 'renown' really serves. It didn't seem to do harm or favors, so unless I missed something, they're pointless. Anyway, to go further on some details, Hostile's battlegrounds range from caves to deserts to graveyards, and each comes with its own inherent hazards like darkness, windstorms, or poisonous fog. What goals you'll get and what kind of enemies you're fighting will also be a tossup. I admire Games Hut's attempt to preserve their gameplay's novelty, but I'm afraid the available conditions aren't unique or drastic enough to be game changers. Nothing really prompts you to change your strategy. Defense missions are just as if not more repetitive. Either you're in a tunnel to protect a relic or running from lava. Otherwise, you're lighting watchfires on a fort. That's it. It's a shame really. They tried to keep the experience fresh, but just switching out minor inconveniences don't quite cut it.

Of course, all adventurers need a pick-me-up once in a while, and a small town acts the part. This rustic village is your main hub. You can buy battle gear and potions whenever you visit, but there's one catch: You must build and upgrade the market yourself, which costs supplies. You earn your supplies like a daily allowance for completing missions. I hope you're good at stewardship skills, because knowing how and what to invest in will determine whether you thrive or nosedive. That's all well and good by me. However, there's one aspect here that soured my experience. You must erect an altar in case you die mid-mission. Otherwise, your progress, skills, weapons, town upgrades and all go bye-bye. Now, besides its ritualistic existence, the altar mechanic wouldn't be so bad if it only had to be constructed once. Unfortunately, its warranty is limited to once per death, so if you're prone to failure, prepare to reconstruct this thing over and over again. But the real kicker is that you can't revisit earlier missions to level up. Why is that the kicker? Because, assuming you're penniless, come the next unbeatable mission that altar mechanic will suck your supplies dry until your inevitable, permanent demise. Trust me. Games cease to be fun when you know you're toast, and it's just spreading the butter.

Herolike
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good music; Has potential
Weak Points: Glitchy; Repetitive; Unforgiving; Pitiful payoff
Moral Warnings: Fairytale magic; Runes; A scant clothed shaman; Alcoholic references

Gameplay is tricky, and I say that in a very mixed way. Your basic attacks can be used willy-nilly. Special attacks require manna (not related to the Biblical food), and your manna and health levels are gauged by the blue and red meters on the bottom of the screen respectively. Your attack style is determined by which character you chose. The hunter and shaman focus on ranged combat while the barbarian, guardian, and trickster center around melee. Everything I described so far is well executed. The special attacks are probably the best parts, but unfortunately, my experiences using each character only unveiled to me how unbalanced Herolike's gameplay is. Notice that there is no defensive option. Granted, each character has their armor/healing special and can buy gear to lessen damage, but that's a poor replacement for good 'ol dodging and blocking. Why am I saying this? Those teaming monsters may take damage, but they don't flinch to your attacks. They'll kill you unless you keep running away. I don't know about you, but that's not very heroic to me. The lack of defensive options also means melee characters must sacrifice survival in order to land their hits. Worst of all is the trickster class, because for some sick reason, they're denied armor and are as death prone as lemmings! Herolike also gives you little time to know your mission goal before the event starts. Simply reading what I was supposed to do got me killed on my first lava run. Lastly, the item menu doesn't pause the battle, so good luck trying to avoid enemies with an obstructed view while sifting through your inventory. Have fun.

Herolike has two control schemes: the top-down view and the hack'n slash view. Unlike what their names imply, they have nothing to do with camera angles. Now, both styles have some commands in common. You aim and click your mouse for basic attacks and numbered keys one through four are for your specials. For top down view, you move around with the A,W,S, and D keys, and in hack'n slash you move by clicking and holding your mouse in the direction you want to go. For ranged characters, I recommend the top down view, and melee users should probably use hack'n slash. The learning curve is confusing at first. However, my biggest complaint is the horrid reaction time. My avatar would react a second after my initial command. That's abysmal. I'm trying to survive charging goonies, but I can't when 'Mr. Sleepyhead' is too slow. This might be passable if you're constantly upgrading weapons, but then you'd have to be  King Midas with money coming out of your ears. Do you recall that all important altar mechanic? Yeah, that's just the salt in the wound. I tell you, if I didn't abuse the quit button before looming defeat, I never would have made it to Herolike's ending.

So what is your quest really about? The usual. An evil overlord corrupted a sacred artifact. Beasties were unleashed, and you're the hero. Typically, I prefer a meatier plot than this, but given how Herolike claimed to tailor to the player's tastes, I see the reason behind a barebones narrative. The only problem is Herolike doesn't give you much story to work with. You do get plot bits from Friendly missions, but they're about as interconnected as untied shoe laces. There's no arching conflict. It doesn't help that this quest gets wrapped up by quite possibly the laziest ending I've ever seen. For all your struggle, there's no pay off. I'm serious. They congratulate you via cue card then throw you back to the beginning without the weapons or skill levels you strived for. It feels like a punishment. You don't even get to fight the evil overlord. You're delegated to his right hand mooks and are simply told he slunk off - The End. You know, that reminds me of a certain mushroom headed twerp who informed players their princess was in another castle - except this time there's no 'other castle' to get to. Not cool Games Hut. Not cool.

Herolike
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 58%
Gameplay - 10/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 1/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 80%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 7.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Visually, Herolike has its good points. I'm not a fan for ugly monsters (especially zombies *blech*), but I can certainly appreciate their designs. The loading screen artwork was especially neat to look at for style alone. You can see the labor of love painted into them. The six Hostile arenas look nice too but aren't that impressive. I do praise the Games Hut for their fluid animation and special effects, though. Unfortunately, there are some flaws. Narrow corridors leave the sky mapping edges exposed, and I wouldn't recommend messing with the graphics controls. It really messed up the color swatches and textures. However, the best thing in Herolike is the music. I've gotta say, for all the missed potential, Games Hut didn't skimp out on the score. The soundtracks fit the world's theming well yet possesses enough individual flare to be memorable in their crisp, rich tones. I'll thumbs up for that.

Okay. I've had a few complaints earlier, but now comes my grudge. Herolike is glitchy. So much so, I don't think quality control even glanced at it. That may sound harsh and unfair from me, but let me put it into perspective for you. Herolike crashed on me no less than nine times. Enemies failed to spawn three times. The music dropped out in the middle of the final boss fight. Those aforementioned graphic screwups produced rainbow trees, blinking objects, and blocky leaves and wouldn't let me fix it for a while. One Friendly mission had their choices missing. The in-game Options button refused to work. Screen display for a time wasn't consistent. I could go on and on and on and on and on! I once considered I was the only one with these problems but nope. Several other customers reported these tech issues and then some. At first, I wanted to call these bugs mere accidents. However, Games Hut came out and admitted their product wasn't finished. Shortsighted mistakes I can understand, but this blatant negligence just infuriates me.

For moral ethics, fantasy settings like this have their usual pitfalls. I'm sure you've predicted most of them, but I'll give you the rundown. Many special attacks involve spirit summoning, and the shaman in particular specializes in these mystical crafts . . . and lingerie attire apparently. Runes and charms can be bought for protection, and I've already chatted about the altars and sacred relics. One mission goal also involves cleansing an altar. Your foes gallery includes silly looking orcs, demons, zombies, and skeletons. Violence is pretty tame, but bodies do linger post mortem. Some demons bleed lava pools, and bright red squirts or spills out of you upon death too. I guess I should also mention that Friendly missions do include immoral choices, but that's no different than basic life anyway. 

Ho boy. Repetitive tasks, unbalanced battles, sluggish avatars, unforgiving mechanics, and game breaking bugs. Herolike really set itself up for disappointment didn't it? Not only is its system unfair and unrewarding, but this game touts customizable features without lending you the freedom to do so. You get to choose, sure, but they're choices between pre-made characters, position locked buildings, and determined paths. It's a controlled environment. However, does that mean Herolike is junk? There were times I did have fun, which means Herolike could be so much more if Games Hut would fix those bugs and push it further. The potential exists, but the sheer fact that they willfully released their glitchy game doomed it from the start. I've gotten completed, unbroken games for cheaper than their asking price, so why is their defunct project more expensive? I'm sorry, but if they're using their paying customers as guinea pigs, that shows such utter disrespect for people's time and money. I know you've got something here, Games Hut. Please, please, please, finish Herolike. Make it blossom into the adventure it's meant to be. Then we can talk playtime.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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