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Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Picomy
Release Date: July 20, 2018


Switch Review - 'Heroki'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 6, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Fly into a beautiful action adventure and save a whimsical world full of flight and fantasy.

Buy Heroki

The Switch has become a haven for all sorts of game genres, including the platformer. This should come as no surprise, since Nintendo is the company responsible for the Super Mario series, but games like the Crash Bandicoot trilogy, Flinthook, and the Shantae series all help make the case for the system being a place for platforming fans. Hearing that Heroki is making its way to the system may have given some people pause, as the game was originally released a few years ago on mobile platforms, but those who have played it will swear that it feels more at home on a dedicated platform. After checking out the game on the Switch, we can't help but agree.

The story is pretty typical for most platformers. You play the role of Heroki, a young man on a floating set of islands that are populated by people who always wear propeller helmets. His day starts off with training to become a hero, but before the day ends, the great artifact of the islands is stolen by a villain who wants to use its power for his own misdeeds. As a witness to the theft, you volunteer to go on a mission to retrieve the artifact, a foolish yet smart move since no one would expect someone so young to go on such a dangerous mission.

As evidenced by his headgear, Heroki is made to fly, and all of the levels reflect this. Using a simple one-stick scheme, you can freely move around each stage, and the stages give you ample room to fly without bumping into too many obstacles. Initially, you have the power to dive-bomb into clouds to break them up. You can also pull switches to open doors or treasure chests, and you can pick up and hurl boxes at enemies and other trigger points, like bells. As in other platformers, you can pick up coins, which you can spend to acquire things such as shields to protect yourself from hits or an X-ray to make hidden areas easier to spot. As the game progresses, you'll also get new abilities, like creating a breeze to blow away objects.

For a platformer, Heroki doesn't seem too interested in combat. His stomp only works on clouds, and while he can throw boxes at enemies, he has to stay in place and take aim before firing, so fleeing is preferable to fighting, since the latter leaves him wide open to attack. Then again, the enemies barely make an effort to fight back. Birds slowly fly toward you, spiked turtles can barely reach you, and owls take quite a bit of time before they aim and fire at you. Similar foes exhibit the same behaviors, so only the bosses will give you any sort of challenge in a skirmish.

Instead, the game's main focus is on collecting things. There are three main things to collect: five talismans, a hidden treasure chest, and the six letters that spell out your name. With the enemies barely bothering to attack, Heroki encourages you to explore every nook and cranny of the environment; this is emphasized when you first bump into a wall and uncover a passageway with goods hidden within. Secrets like that are present in every stage, and while you can pass a stage by simply traveling to the ring at the end, there's the innate desire to scour a stage several times to pick up all of the items.

The bigger emphasis on collecting and the relative scarcity of enemies translates into an experience made for both younger gamers and those who are relatively new to the genre. There's no time limit on any of the levels, so there's no need to rush into things. Points are only awarded for collecting the three main objects, so there's no real incentive to fight enemies. Thanks to the lackadaisical nature of the enemies, it takes some real effort to get three hits to lose a life, while the frequency at which you gain lives means that you'll be able to finish the game with too many lives to spare.

Heroki runs at a decent length, so the initial shock of only having three worlds to explore is negated by the fact that there are about 10 levels in each stage. With that said, one of the big issues is that the pacing is very off. Those 10 stages don't have much variety, so by the time you're halfway through a world, you'll feel like you've had your fill. Gaining a new ability breaks the tedium until you realize that you'll use that ability in the same types of levels and situations for a long time.

It doesn't help that the island town seems large but doesn't have much to do. There's a shopkeeper you'll constantly talk to for some goods, and you can visit your house to see some of the trinkets awarded to you. There are a few people you can talk to and fulfill little side-quests for them, but the travel time from one person to another seems rather lengthy, and once you finish their quest, you don't have a reason to see them again. As such, you'll barely make stops unless it becomes necessary, so any respite from repetition is immediately dashed.

The presentation in Heroki is quite nice. Graphically, the game is very colorful, with lots of clean textures and some decent particle effects. There's always something on-screen that's eye-catching, and it helps greatly that the game runs at a constant 60fps with no dips. Sound-wise, the effects are fine, and the voices are minimal, with only a few cries of surprise when an enemy sees you or when you bump into a wall. The music is also well done, but as in most mobile tiles, the limited soundtrack means that you'll hear the same things over and over again.

Heroki is a serene platformer where you take your time and discover every secret at your own pace without much danger involved, making it a relaxing experience. It has pacing issues in that it takes a long time before you get to do anything different, but if you're fine with that, play Heroki between some of the more hectic titles out there.

Score: 7.0/10

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