Reviewing games for a living might sound like a pretty cushy deal, but there are downsides to a life at the neon coalface of the mobile app stores.
The biggest downside is that you quickly become aware of how little gameplay variation there is these days in the casual RPG genre. Every game, whether cartoony or serious, colorful or grim, seems to place you in the same hamster wheel of upgrades, levels, loot, and combat.
It can be difficult to separate one game from the next in this blizzard of fantasy cliches, so it’s always nice when something like Hello Hero comes along to shake things up a bit.
Released in 2014, this polished casual RPG boasted a fun cast of characters, an engaging story, and a compelling twist that saw you recruiting your enemies into your own collection of fighters. And who doesn’t like making friends?
Hello Hero: Epic Battle is the long-awaited sequel, and it carries on along the same path as the original, with all the refinements and advances you’d expect after four years in the lab.
The plot revolves around a mysterious element called Hardnium. This dangerous material has enormous potential, but it quickly falls into the wrong hands, and you set out to investigate. As you’d imagine, this mostly involves fighting with monsters.
The fighting takes the form of 3D battles that you can largely sit back and watch. Your team is made up of, well, whichever types of unit you put into it, including the usual line-up of healers, ranged attackers, and so on. You can have five teams – or decks – saved for different situations, with five heroes per team.
While much of the fighting is automated, you can concentrate fire on particular opponents and take characters out of the fight if their health is running low. It’s also possible to deploy skills manually, rather than letting the game deploy them as soon as their timers run down.
At the end of each battle you get XP, coins, armor fragments, gifts, and a whole panoply of items and goodies. Naturally, there’s a whole rich economy of stuff and upgrades in which to invest and utilise these things.
You can craft potions, cards, weapons, armor, and so on using the materials you gather, and you can level-up your heroes and their skills and weapons, as well as applying and levelling up particular talents, such as Physical AT and Magical DEF.
Meanwhile you’ll spend a lot of your time off the battlefield simply claiming all the loot you’ve earned. You’ll earn achievements, daily login rewards, and rewards for completing sections of the story with a particular character.
As you progress you’ll also open up new modes where you can battle for even choicer loot, and everything gets harder as you progress – though you can always return to previously completed stages to bolster your supplies and earn a bit more XP.
All of that will no doubt sound very familiar if you’ve ever played a mobile RPG. Fortunately, Hello Hero: Epic Battle manages to stand apart thanks largely to its level of polish and charm.
The action takes place in narrow corridor-like environments, with no freedom to roam. This has allowed developer Fincon to concentrate on bringing the graphics up to an incredibly high standard, with inventive character design, robust performance, and slick, cartoony 3D visuals.
And while the translation occasionally leaves something to be desired, and the voice-acting is sometimes wooden, the dialogue that zips back and forth between the characters during cut-scenes is lively and entertaining, as are the characters you meet and recruit along the way.
All of this gives the campaign a welcome impetus beyond the basic desire to level up and build an unstoppable army.
Ultimately, there’s a lot in Hello Hero: Epic Battle that you’re likely to have seen before, and if you’re burned out on mobile RPGs you may fail to be won round by its charms. But if you’re only looking for a change from genre cliches like dragons and magic, you’ll appreciate the effort that Fincon has gone to to create a fresh, imaginative, and polished world.