I was never really sold on the idea of “love at first sight” until I started playing Hero Generations by Heart Shape Games LLC. She was a combination of multiple different traits that I admire in my video games, while offering a captivating uniqueness which caused her to stand out among the crowd. The getting to know each other stage in our relationship was something out of a fairy-tale. Every new aspect about the game that I discovered peaked my interest that much more, my mind already jumping ahead, thinking about what the future might hold for us. Around that time was when I started to notice the subtle ‘red flags’ that she tried so hard to hide from me. Once I unearthed her high maintenance tendencies, the lies about having the freedom to choose my own path, and the repetitive nature of her gameplay, I had to step back and really analyze my future with Hero Generations. I am still struggling with mixed emotions towards this title even as I write this review, but I can safely say that Hero Generations is a game that I will have my eye on for a while, in hopes that she will find a way to win me over.
The basics 5/5
Hero Generations is a top-down, turn-based, rouge-like strategy game based around an interesting concept. You start with a basic character at the young age of 16, their whole life still before them and the world at their fingertips. On the right hand side of the screen, the stats of your character are displayed which include their lifespan, strength, damage, gold and fame. This is also where you can view your character’s traits and items. Traits are jobs, or “classes” that add various bonuses and effects to your hero. Some of these traits include thief, farmer, golden child, and defender. Your hero has two item slots that can be used to hold weapons and shields, or can be utilized to carry other useful items like a hammer to repair buildings or a key to unlock treasure chests.
In order to progress the life of your character, you must move him/her around the map, discovering a wide variety of enemies, towns, treasures and many other random goodies along the way. Every turn you can move one tile, which is equivalent to one year of your life. You can do whatever actions that are available to you on that tile, but once you start moving to the next adjacent square, a year of your life has passed. The life of your character will be spent traveling down all or some of these six strategic paths; love, strength, wealth, fame, exploration and technology. Once you reach the peak of your character’s life, searching for a mate is always a wise choice. This allows you to pass the torch of your legacy and family name to the next generation. If you wait too long to find a mate that will accept you, it will result in a game over, your life and family name being swept under the carpet of time. Once the decision to settle down and retire is made, you can start dedicating your time and energy into being a parent. Your offspring will take your place 16 years later, when they are ready to leave the nest, to continue the legacy that you left for them, continuing what you started during your lifetime.
Passing the torch. 5/5
One of the most important aspects of Hero Generations is the mating process. In order for your Hero to accomplish anything in the harsh world they were born into, they need strong traits and stats. The mate you choose and the age you decide to shack up directly impacts the outcome of your child. Your hero has five stages in their life; childhood, adulthood, mid-life, elder and sage. Once you hit elder status, your base stats start to drop, which will begin to affect your child’s stats as well. If you find a mate early in your life, you increase the chances of passing down your traits to your kid, and will have higher chances of producing a strong child. Picking the right mate is also important. Different mates provide different traits and stats for your child, depending on their requirements. Some mates require a certain amount of fame, money or strength, which you can bypass by constructing the monument building in the town where you wish to settle down.
The stats and traits your child will acquire are based on card flips. Let the game of randomness begin! The mating screen consists of 20 cards, which will determine the stats and traits of your child. The stat cards have different values attached to them, ranging from common (+1strength, 100 gold) to rare (+7strength, +1500 gold). Some traits will reveal a stat card on the board, but won’t show you the value attached to it. This provides you with some control in character creation, while maintaining a stable balance with the randomness factor. This is a good comparison to how real life is, since parents can influence how their child is raised, but won’t be able to completely know how they will mature. Another factor with the mating process is your Hero’s age. If you decided to mate early in life, the amount of card flips and rare cards you get access to increases. You also have the chance to pass down your traits to your kid, by having those trait cards face up on the board. There are other ways to influence this mechanic, but I’m sure you get the idea. I love how they executed this feature. There is a perfect balance between randomness and control that connects each generations seamlessly.
Building up Resources 2/5
In order for the future generations of your bloodline to prosper, they need productive towns to act as their base of operations. This is accomplished by the creation of buildings, each town able to maintain four, one in each of its adjacent squares. Some buildings, like farms, are used to periodically generate a set amount of gold. Others can increase your character’s base strength and overall lifespan. Simplifying the mating process, maintenance of buildings and speed travel are also effects of buildings that your hero can build. These specialized buildings are unlocked as time progresses, which is tracked by the generation of your hero. By the tenth generation, all of the structures in the game are available for your use. A town can also transform based on the type of buildings that are constructed around it. This will affect the type of mates that will appear in that town. The buildings and depth they create are great. My problems began when I unearthed their biggest flaw, resource management.
I didn’t begin to loathe the resource management of Hero Generations until I started to set all my focus on building up a worthy empire for my offspring. I had a plan that, at the time, seemed like a work of genius. I would start my bloodline by focusing on wealth and strength, building upon the three towns that were in my starting area. When my future offspring decides to venture out to uncharted lands, they would have the strength and cash to succeed in all of their endeavors. I also connected all my towns with a complex network of stations, to limit travel time. For five generations, these noble men and woman slaved year after year, ensuring a bright future for their kids. When the sixth generation was born, she had immense wealth and power passed down to her. All she had to do was travel to each town in order to acquire what was rightfully hers by birth right. By the time she gained enough resources to conquer any foe in her path, she was nearing the end of her glory years and had to switch her focus to finding a mate before her offspring would suffer. Life well spent!
In order to gain the gold, strength, or lifespan a building provides, you have to physically pick it up from the building that produced it. If one town has four buildings producing gold, it will take a grand total of eight years in order to gather it all. I honestly feel like this is not the most effective way to handle resource management in the game, and it ultimately hinders the overall feel of the game, causing the entire experience to feel repetitive. This one issue ruined my overall enjoyment with the game. I feel like this can be resolved by implementing one of these following changes; allowing the player to auto-collect all the resources a town produces by moving onto the town square, turning off the lifespan counter when traveling in town and building spaces, or having resources from buildings manually sent to the hero upon reaching the age of 16, but reducing the amount they add (10-20 strength once per hero, instead of 10 strength every 10 years)
Since we are discussing the ‘red flags’ that broke my heart, it is only fitting to mention the issue with items. As I mentioned in the basic section of this review, your hero has two item slots. For the sake of this example, let’s say those two items are a sword and shield. You want to keep these items, but you run across a dilemma. You find a key in a shop that will be perfect for opening the chest you located on the other side of the map. Sadly, you only have two item slots. In order to pick up this key, you need to drop your sword, buy the key, then go back to get your item once you are done with the key, wasting countless years of your already valuable time. This could even take two generations just to unlock a chest! A simple fix would be creating a dedicated slot for usable items like keys, vouchers for stations, flowers, or any other items you find on the map. The way the item system is currently adds to the already repetitive nature of gameplay due to the issues with resource management.
In an attempt to give your hero’s purpose, a mission system was added to the game. Even though this is a common device used in most video games, having missions is a huge asset to making Hero Generations a great game. Every time you begin a new game, the map is procedurally generated, which creates huge amounts of replay value in an exploration sense. When accounting for the randomness of character creation and the random maps, no two games will ever be the same. Each world has at least four different locations, which include swamp, desert, Island and volcano biomes. Each location has its own set of missions, some that refresh for each generation, and others that are a one-time gig. Most of these one-time missions are reserved for bosses. Some of the other missions are clearing trees, building a wonder, and collecting statues. Missions create a life purpose for your hero, something to strive for. It’s wonderful how a simple thing like missions in a game can make me excited, even when we live in an age full of games.
The other topic I wanted to touch on is the battle system. It is a dice-based, randomized battle mechanic. Every hero you control and enemy you encounter follows the same rule when it comes to battles. No matter how strong your character is, it will always have a chance to lose against your opponent. This is because your attack will always deal between 0-x damage, with x being your strength stat. The total lifespan lost when you are hit by an attack in battle is determined by your damage stat. Let’s say you are able to boost your strength to 50, and you feel confident when a 20 strength bandit comes knocking at your front door. You choose to greet him with a sword to the face, but end up the butt of the joke when the bandit pulls a fast one on you and lands a sucker punches This is because the bandit rolled an 18 and you only got a 16. The odds were not in your favor during this brawl. It sucks being able to lose against enemies that are clearly weaker than you, but it also adds a strategic layer to the game that I gladly accept. To look on the positive side, you never know when your 50 strength Hero can sneak attack a boss with 100-150 strength. I can attest to this as being a possibility, since this lucky situation has once rescued my bloodline from utter defeat.
Hero Generations, I know we have had a rocky relationship. Our fights and disagreements escalate to a level that would scare Mohamed Ali, but man do we have some special moments together. The time when we defeated our first boss, made it to the 20th generation, connected our first stations between towns. I know we will have plenty more amazing memories that will last a lifetime. I just don’t know if I can struggle through the repetitive, unnecessary resource management, and the lack of item space. Maybe I will find a more effective way of playing that will reignite my love for you. It’s also possible that your creators will implement an update that eliminates the issues I have. Either way Hero Generations, I will always love the idea of you, and will dream that one day you will finally make it to the peak of your potential. I will also play you from time to time, hoping that my opinion of you is swayed. From where I stand at the moment, I have to stick with a 3/5.
If you would like to check this game out for yourself, you can do so here