Hero Generations is an interesting squidging together of ideas and genres that manages to take parts of the roguelike and the 4X strategy genres and fold them into each other. It doesn’t always work, and it takes a while to get going, but when things click you’ll find yourself having a lovely old time.
This is a game that’s all about longevity, and the deeper you get into it the more its mechanics start to unfurl themselves. There’s not the smash and grab stylings of other roguelikes here, and you’ll find yourself stumbling through some of the finer points in your first play throughs. But Hero Generations is definitely one that’s worth persevering with.
The game casts you as an adventurer wandering around a grid-based world. Every time you move into a new square, one year of your life passes. You can perform as many mighty deeds as you want, but if your biological clock ticks down to zero, you’ll drop dead of natural causes.
You bypass the tragedy of the passage of time by having offspring. There are towns in the world, and if there’s a heart over the top of one, there’s a potential spouse there waiting for you. Hook up, retire, and let your kids go out and do all of the dangerous stuff. Your lovers aren’t easily wooed though, you’ll need to have a set amount of one of the game’s stats if you want to be considered marriage material. Wander in when you’re not strong enough, or rich enough, and you’ll be spurned and have to go out and adventure some more.
The adventuring is reasonably simple. You tap to move from square to square, and if there’s anything where you land, you can interact with it. There are shops, towns, secrets and plenty of monsters. Land on a monster and you have to have a fight or try and run away.
Running away costs some of your fame, and that could mean you’ll get kicked to the curb by a love interest. Fights involve rolling a digital dice that gets more powerful as you age. Roll better than your opponent and you’ll hit them, roll worse and they’ll hit you.
These fights only last one round, so even if you end up in a scrap with someone much stronger than you, you’re only going to take one whomp before you can scamper and try and find something else. There’s equipment to collect, buildings to reinforce, and plenty of other little strategies bubbling under the surface.
And it all combines to make an interesting concoction of the personal and the epic. The game is massive, but it has a particularly narrow focus. It’s one story told over multiple generations, spanning a huge game world that you’ll probably never be able to see every corner of — and that’s where the joy comes from. With every generation you get better, maybe not in stats – at least not to start off with – but you start to understand the pulse of the game. You understand where it’s going, and you’re better placed to manipulate it to your will.
Like knowledge passed down from mother to son, from father to daughter, Hero Generations grows as it ages. And you’ll find yourself enjoying it more and more as the digital years slip away.