There are a plethora of theme parks in the world but seldom do you get the chance to visit an RPG park, let alone work at one. In Heroland you work as a tour guide at one such theme park. Your task is guiding the various characters that visit the park through the dungeons located in the park. As the part-time tour guide of the park, you walk the guests through dungeons where fake enemies face them to simulate combat; not that this is relevant to gameplay, as the combat functions as it would either way. You direct the guests on the sidelines, with them often just doing what they want, with just a little input from player decisions. Quite a passive role and one which gets quite quickly grows boring when you realise that you’re rarely doing anything meaningful.
The premise is indeed an interesting one, where nothing is actually a real adventure, nor is this really the protagonist’s story. A novel idea, but, much like the combat, it gets old fast. However, the writer’s did have some fun with the concept. Leaning heavily on self-aware humour and the shattering of the 4th wall to bring comedy to the dialogue; it’s a good job too, there’s a lot of it. Unfortunately, competent writing alone isn’t enough to make up for a lacklustre story.
A further shortcoming of Heroland is the introduction of information in the tutorial. Frankly, it is overwhelming. Every few minutes the game fills the screen with pages of detailed information on what each option does. Rather than easing the player in, it opts to just throw information and hope that it sticks. It didn’t for this reviewer – I found myself having to check what things meant several times as the game progressed.
Despite the introduction of new characters throughout the game’s story, only a few remain instrumental to what actually happens, the rest are all but ignored and deprived of any development or relevance when it really comes down to it. On top of that, the characters that do remain as a focal point of the story are inconsistent in their goals and ideas, which is a shame since a lot of the writing is actually quite good.
Gameplay-wise there isn’t a great deal more to the game than going through one dungeon after another in a linear fashion, and that, unfortunately, gets repetitive after a time. A theme I found time and time again throughout the course of my time with Heroland. It is very much a case of grinding dungeons, dialogue, grinding more dungeons. Perhaps what some would want, but many would find that the novelty wears off.
One thing that immediately stood out, however, was the visuals. Heroland has a uniquely charming art style. Cartoon-like two-dimensional characters that bounce around the screen looking like a cardboard cutout make for a wonderfully pleasing aesthetic that is immersive and nice to look at.
Ultimately, Heroland offers an interesting take on the RPG genre, with a large number of characters, attractive art style, writing and good humour. Sadly, the game falls short in almost all other areas. Largely repetitive gameplay coupled with passive combat and a mediocre story are all factors that are impossible to overlook.
Heroland is very much a good concept rather than a good game, far too many shortcomings and and a lack of active gameplay make this a tough one to recommend. Unless you’re starved for things to play, look elsewhere.