Almost one year ago, developer Heart Shaped Games successfully kickstarted an indie strategy/roguelike game about life, legacy, and love, called Hero Generations. Now the game is finished and available to the public marking a successful crowdfunding experience that seems all too rare in the games industry these days.
At a glance, one may assume that Hero Generations appears to be a simplistic ‘move around, beat things up and hope for some high random rolls.’ Those assumptions, however, would be completely wrong.
You begin the game as the first of your generation, moving around the map and encountering enemies. You have an attribute called ‘strength’ which dictates the highest number you can roll. If your number is higher than your enemy, you win! Sounds simple, right? But when starting off as a brand new explorer, your strength is quite meager, usually lower than five. It’s not until you play for a bit that you’re able to “become an adult” which gains you an additional ten strength. After a little more playing, you hit “mid-life” and gain another ten strength. At this point, you’re kind of a bad ass.
Another facet to the game is your movement points. You have a counter called ‘life expectancy’ that decreases as you move around the world. It dictates both your health meter and your movement capabilities. The game is turn based, but everything happens on the same turn. This means that when you move, so do the monsters and other NPC’s.
Your adventures continue by beating up more monsters and gaining more fame and fortune. This is where the game really gets interesting and you find there’s more than meets the eye. Using all the money you’ve acquired from plundering forests and beating up baddies, you’ll find yourself able to build structures close to nearby towns. These structures can do anything from granting you more strength, modifying the nearby town, and even granting you more movement points.
After sometime you’ll notice that you’ve begun to change the world around you. You’ve built barracks around towns in order to get more strength and even built additional districts which increases the amount of potential ‘mates’ that can be found around town. Wait, mates? Hero Generations has a unique ‘Mate’ system which is essentially choosing a betrothed to keep the bloodline going.
Not only do you get stronger when you hit adult and mid-life, but you also get older and elderly! There are also two old-age events that occur causing you to start losing the 10 strength you had acquired before. Fear not weary old traveler; that’s just part of life. Thankfully, this is where your ‘Mates’ come in to play. At the towns you’ve been bolstering, you can find your suitable mates. Some of them have requirements and give extra bonuses, while some are just so you can keep your lineage going. When you choose to settle down and take a mate, you start a new generation. This is where Hero Generations has a lot of potential in terms of how to plan out your gameplay. You can have 2 trait slots and 2 item slots; Traits give perks such as being a thief and stealing more money from monsters, or being a warrior and gaining a 25% strength bonus. Items are objects like swords which give you an extra (albeit small) dice-roll during combat. You and your mate will pass on the items you were carrying to your offspring, and ‘potentially’ those traits as well. Starting a new generation has never been so exciting.
When a new generation begins, you get to click on a number of cards to see what randomized starting bonuses your new character gets. This comes in the form of extra life expectancy (your health and movement) as well as strength and traits. There’s even rare cards and rare traits you can pick up for increased starting benefits. At this point you have a brand new character with the world at his/her fingertips (gender is random in the game.) The world around you is quite similar to how the previous generation left it, except now, buildings may have degraded and you may consider rebuilding them or even placing new ones!
It’s at this point that your life choices must be taken into consideration. The depth of strategy that the game allows you and its importance become clear. Sure you can keep running around beating things up and having kids stronger than their parents were, but the goal of the game is to complete quests. Killing large bosses or building monuments to the old gods–or whatever you build monuments to. You’ll find that to kill all the bosses on a particular map–there are several–you’ll need the money you earn from multiple generations. I’ve found that to kill a boss, it might take several characters to hit them a few times (and take a lot of life expectancy / damage in the process.) But if you plan for your future, and you’re building structures and thinking about what traits you want your children to have, these things will boost your character and ensure you’re the best hero that’s ever lived. Well, until a new generation begins!
Overall Hero Generations has a very familiar cycle, but what an amazing cycle it is. The game is currently priced at a very affordable $14.99, which is worth it. The gameplay is fun and manages to feel very rewarding,especially if you plan your lineage and build the world around you for the future. The art style of the game works perfectly for the gameplay Heart Shaped Games has created with Hero Generations. Content-wise, there’s a lot to see and plenty of enemies to beat up. There’s tons of buildings to build and items to acquire that are meaningful across generations. Heart Shaped Games gives a lot of content to the player to enjoy at its pricetag. While there’s a couple things that could be done better–such as random pausing between screen tansitions– Hero Generations is an enjoyable rogue-like with strategy elements that manages to present itself exceptionally well.