Hero Generations is a Facebook game with heart

Hero Generations is a game about life, death, and making the most of the short time you have on this earth. It has elements of an RPG and an adventure game, and plays like the strangely compelling offspring of Infinity Blade and Jason Rohrer’s Passage. It’s a Facebook game that actually makes you feel something deep down, and for that alone it’s worth a look.

You start the game as a young hero who sets out into the world in search of fame and adventure. Much of the map is covered with clouds and you’ll be exploring it one square at a time. But each step has its cost. Because each time you move one square in Hero Generations, a year is takenoff of your life. You’re given a life expectancy at the beginning and once that runs out your hero’s tale ends.

Hero Generations

Hero Generations

But just like in Infinity Blade, there’s someone to carry on his name. Because in amongst all of the adventuring and battling, you’ll also be able to find a mate. And once you settle down and have a kid, a new chapter begins, and you start playing as your offspring. As you head out the door your father will tell you about his famous adventures and your mom will explain how the world has changed since the last generation.

When it comes to the actual exploring, there’s quite a bit to do and discover. Monsters roam freely and you can engage in relatively simple combat with them. You’ll receive quests to kill particularly nasty monsters or find ancient treasure. You can purchase swords and shields and erect buildings to make townsfolk more appreciative of your efforts. All of these things will earn you gold and fame, which are essential for finding a mate and for bragging rights. Fame, after all, is the ultimate goal of most heroes.

What makes the game especially addictive is that, since each generation is relatively short and can be completed in a matter of minutes, Hero Generations has that “just one more turn” mentality as you attempt to make your offspring even more famous than their parents.

Hero Generations

Hero Generations

But gameplay aside, it’s the theme of life and death that really makes Hero Generations stick with you. It’s all in the details. Watching your hero age, he at first gets stronger with each new milestone, but then begins to weaken as he reaches his twilight years. In one generation I didn’t have children until my hero was almost dead, so instead of helpful parents waiting outside of the house my new young hero was greeted by two tombstones. Seeing a note from your mother on a pixelated grave is incredibly poignant.

Hero Generations is the first release from Heart Shaped Games, an indie studio with a mission to “build meaningful social games that players fall in love with.” And though the game is still in an early beta state, it appears that Hero Generations more than meets that lofty goal.