One strange omission from my list of played games is the entire Quest for Glory series. I actually did play snippets of King’s Quest on a friend’s PC but I only really started gaming shortly after the first Hero’s Quest game was released. I heard plenty about it later on but since I never played the first one, I never felt tempted to play any of the sequels either. That’s why when I heard about Heroine’s Quest recently on Broken Forum, I was immediately interested. It is nothing more and nothing less than fan-led project to make a game in the exact same style with a heroine as the protagonist.
- So let’s get this out of the way first, I loved it and was surprised that I did. It’s also a much more substantial game than I expected. True completionists will want to finish it with all three classes, but I believe that a first-time player going through it with just a single class will need over a dozen hours to finish it. I was also very pleased that there is full voice acting throughout. I was however disappointed by the low resolution. I mean I can dig pixel art just fine, but 320 x 200? Is it really cheaper or easier to produce art assets in that resolution instead of say 640 x 480?
- I’m embarrassed to say that I had a really hard time with the combat system for a very long time. I put it down to my lack of familiarity with previous games in this style. Only later I realized that playing a sorceress with her low agility skills makes it hard to dodge attacks. By the end of the game of course, everything is easy to kill. I have mixed feelings about the clear need to do some grinding for skills and money in this game. On the one hand, grinding is boring. But I also realized than this makes it feel much more game-like. Being out in the forest at night while you’re weak and need shelter and warmth is scary. Going to Svartalfheim for the first time is scary. This is the difference between an RPG and an adventure game and I really, really appreciated this difference.
- I can’t praise the writing enough. Yes, it just appropriates stuff from Norse mythology but that gives you an instant sense of familiarity while changing things around just enough that things are interesting. I also really liked that the main focus is still on this being the story of a heroine’s adventures. Yes, there is plenty of humor, and I enjoyed the humor, but it doesn’t completely dominate as in, say, the Monkey Island games. There actually is a sense of danger to what’s going on and despite all the joking around, there’s a real sense of threat from the villains.
- I even liked the puzzles! Some are difficult but all of them are fair and logical. I don’t believe you ever need to do silly things like using all manner of items in your inventory on everything you see. Granted, since I only played a sorceress so solving puzzles mostly meant figuring out the correct spell to use given the circumstances so everything is consistent and logical. Blink lets you teleport over things, disrupt breaks barriers, flame aura melts ice, shadow distracts enemies etc. No moon logic puzzles here! It’s also really cool that the game checks that you’re not using out of game information to skip over gameplay. You actually do need to receive the appropriate information from a person or a spell to proceed.
- Then there are the mini-games. I was shocked by how many of them there are in here. There’s the gambling dice game, Aurvandel’s magical challenge, the 15-puzzle in Svartalfheim. They’re all well done and actually a lot of fun to play. I especially loved how the Svartalfheim tunnels change in response to the placement of the tiles.
- Finally, to top it all of, it has one of the best epilogue scenes I’ve ever seen in any game ever in which the NPCs come together to recount stories of what the heroine has done for them, essentially covering the major optional quests. Then after the credits have rolled, you get a very poignant final fate for your heroine. Why can’t more games do this? It’s so simple, yet so effective. Even the bonus materials are good. These include sketches and character portraits, with most importantly of all, very interesting notes on how much work the game entailed and how many hours it took to make each screen, each character and so on. Then you also get an extended sound clip collecting some of their funniest voice acting bloopers.
So if you’ve been paying attention, yes, I adored this game and would have happily paid money for it. It’s an amazing gem of a game that is lots of fun, very funny and yet feels very much like a real adventure with a kickass female protagonist.