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June 2021

Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Role-Playing
Publisher: Silesia Games
Developer: Transolar Games
Release Date: Feb. 9, 2021


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Switch Review - 'Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Feb. 12, 2021 @ 1:30 a.m. PST

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a humorous fantasy role-playing adventure game by the creators of the Quest for Glory series.

The plot of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption can best be summed up as "a trip to Hogwarts." You take on the role of Shawn O'Conner, a young would-be thief who has the misfortune of being caught mid-theft. The mysterious man offers him the choice of being sent to the guards or attending Hero University, which is a boarding school dedicated to teaching future heroes. Each student is assigned to a specific house: Bard, Mage, Paladin or Warrior. Shawn is sorted into the "Disbarred Bards" class, which is secretly there to train the less heroic rogue class. Now Shaun must prove that he has what it takes to survive at Hero-U while also learning why he was sent there in the first place.

At heart, Hero-U is an evolution of the point-and-click adventure genre. While it has gameplay mechanics and RPG stats, it's mostly about discovering character plots, solving puzzles, and puns. There are so, so many puns. It's more involved than a lot of point-and-click games, but it still does its job quite well. It's a very nostalgic-feeling game, which might be expected from the developers of Quest for Glory. It's a more user-friendly modern game, but it's still a point-and-click experience.

As you might expect from a game based on schooling, Hero-U has a time system. Time progresses relatively quickly (about a minute each time you enter a new room, with different passage of times for specific actions), and there are schedules to keep. This might feel stressful to people who dislike being timed, but time passes mostly when you take action instead of in real time, so you have the ability to plan. In addition to taking classes, you'll spend time doing various side activities, such as exploring dungeons, learning electives, making friends, and discovering friends' stories. The time system is probably one of the game's biggest roadblocks. You have a lot of free time, but when you're initially learning the layout of the castle, it doesn't feel like you have time, and it can discourage exploration because you're worried about the trade-offs.

One of the primary things you do with your free time is leveling up skills. Shawn has skills ranging from everyday things like charm and dexterity to more rogue-ish talents, such as lockpicking and thievery. Most actions taken in the game offer some form of leveling up. You might gain stamina from walking up and down steps, or you may gain charm by figuring out the right thing to say to a person. Your skill level tends to reflect which options you can take in quests and while exploring. There's a nice variety, but once or twice, I felt like I had to level a specific skill to succeed.

It should be noted that Hero-U does have a bare-bones combat system. You mostly hit enemies while they hit you unless you use an elective to gain a few bonuses in combat. You're discouraged from getting into combat unless it's unavoidable, and since Shawn is a sneaky rogue, he isn't really one for a stand-up fight. To get past some of the fighting sequences, it's essential to figure out ways to avoid enemies or catch them with a sneak attack. The combat is very much an afterthought, though. It exists, and you need to interact with it sometimes, but it's probably the lowest point of the game.

My only complaint about Hero-U's gameplay is that it doesn't feel like it was made for a console — and that's because it wasn't. Console adaptations usually feel smoother than this, but Hero-U feels kind of slow and awkward. It isn't enough to sour the game, but I felt like I'd prefer the PC version if given a chance because it would play smoother. The Switch version isn't a bad port, but it's not the definitive version, even when you take portability into account.

Hero-U is a nice-looking game. The art style is charming, and the environments contain a lot of delightful touches that make the world feel more like a living place. The character portraits are quite good, but a few characters have expressions that look more "deranged" than "happy." The music is passable, but it's not memorable. It fits the game well enough, and I'm already struggling to remember a single tune. There's no voice acting, which is unfortunate because the game would've benefitted from it. The cast is small enough that each character having a distinctive voice would've given them extra personality.

All in all, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a charming take on the Harry Potter-esque magical boarding school genre. The writing is clever, the world-building interesting, and the puns are omnipresent. The actual point-and-click gameplay is solid if unexceptional, dragged down only by a superfluous combat system. If you're a fan of point-and-click adventures, you'll find a lot to enjoy here, even if the Switch version requires more effort than the PC-based iteration.

Score: 8.0/10

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