I have always enjoyed the 32-bit era of games, with their blocky designs and unique ways to get around the clunky movement in the early years. I also enjoy a good point and click adventure as long as the plot’s interesting. That’s why Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption felt like a perfect fit for my odd tastes. I was mostly correct, considering the magical atmosphere, gameplay, and the ability to click on everything. Despite all the good, I did find myself not intrigued by the narrative components.
Our story follows a former thief, Shawn O’Connor, who was caught stealing a rare item known as the Lucky Coin from a wealthy individual’s home. On his escape, he runs into an old man who gives him the option to leave this life behind and come to Hero University where he can develop his skills and use them for good. Our protagonist accepts and begins his studies at this prestigious university where he overcomes obstacles such as fighting dire rats, stopping thieves, and making nice with a mean administrator. While I did enjoy this setting, I found myself overwhelmed with too many side plots and not enough time to manage all of the little character interactions and world-building moments.
Design-wise, this game is a throwback to old PlayStation games, and I couldn’t have been happier. I loved the simplistic looking 3D models brought up to a higher resolution. Mix this in with the fantastical aesthetic of fantasy novels and you have something quite special. I really did find myself wanting to see more of what this world has to offer, and I think that was the main driver of interest for my playthrough.
Gameplay is broken down into three main components: time management, exploration, and combat. Time management is the most important of these three. On most days your character will have to be in a classroom until 2 PM, and you will get some free time until 5 when you are forced to take time for a meal. You then have the rest of the time until curfew to do extras such as work jobs and interact with comrades. At first, this management was easy to do, and I used those early days to try and improve my skills in the training room and library as much as possible. But when the story requires you to do quests or add elective courses into your schedule, it is harder to find time for training, so the game forces you to prioritize what tasks are important. I found this system to be a great way to add replayability to the game so you can see scenarios you may have missed in your first playthrough.
Exploration is the bread and butter of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. You explore by clicking on objects, people, and doors in order to find items, enter rooms, and gain new information or quest lines. While I did have fun most of the time, there were a few exceptions where trying to figure out how to perform certain tasks was completely unclear to me. For example, one of the first things the game requested was to get my hands on a school uniform, but in order to get it I had to get money to purchase one from the school store. This was fine, but I had no money and no clue on how to acquire any until I found an obscure dialog path from Gregor, the school shop owner, who told me I could find jobs from him and the dining hall manager. I went a couple of hours not even knowing where to begin, and I would have liked to have been told to whom I needed to go to get money at the get go.
Last but not least is the combat. While not a huge part of the overall experience, combat is where you end up making a lot of money. This element consists in going down into the wine cellar to face off against various pests that are infesting the lower levels of the academy. These battles are turn-based with the ability to position yourself to handle each situation. But from my experience the best course of action is to sneak up on the enemy, get the first hit, and just go on a full frontal assault, especially if you spent the first little bit upgrading combat and defense. This means combat can get a little tedious, but it’s a nice break from the rest of the game.
While I did find myself bored a few times throughout my playthrough, I did enjoy Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption overall. This game has a lot of fun ideas, but it just falls short on each of them. I did enjoy the world and design, but wish the narrative and time management could have felt less frantic so I could take in more of what this fine institution had to offer. I would recommend this to anyone looking to scratch the itch for a point-and-click adventure, or who is just a fan of the fifth generation of consoles.