Once you’ve said “hello” to somebody a few times you can start to dispense with the formalities and get right down to business.
Fincon’s Hello Hero series has already said “hello” to us twice, in the 2014 original and the 2018 follow up, Hello Hero: Epic Battle. Therefore it’s no surprise that this third game in the series gets straight to the point.
Hello Hero All Stars is almost impossibly streamlined. As soon as you install the game and boot it up you’re in the thick of the action, marching up the screen and dealing the pain this way and that, with no extraneous stuff like intros and cut-scenes to get in the way of your gaming pleasure.
This can feel a bit abrupt, particularly given that Hello Hero is one of the few mobile RPGs in which the cut-scenes are actually entertaining. But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of briskness from time to time, and it makes for a bracing gameplay experience.
Here’s how that gameplay experience shakes out.
I need a hero
You play as a squad of heroes hacking their way through waves of enemies, punctuated by bosses.
These enemies and bosses come in a weird and wonderful array of shapes and sizes, and they’re not at all like the generic fantasy monsters and animals you’ll find in most mobile RPGs. There are floating robot orbs, cutesy dragons, bouncing toadstools, turnips, babies in bear costumes, and so on.
Most of the staples of the mobile RPG scene are here. That means there’s a campaign, augmented by quests. You recruit new heroes to your army, and acquire gear too. Then you’ll form parties, and choose which heroes to level-up. Plus, you have skills, and everything can be levelled up with gold or one of the other in-game currencies.
The big twist – you could even call it the USP – is that you stock your army with defeated bosses, adding a righteousness to your efforts. Not only are you fighting the good fight, but the good fight is so manifestly right that your enemies can’t help but become your friends.
This resonated a little more in the previous games, where cut-scenes and dialogue made these battlefield conversions more enjoyable to behold, but it’s a neat and unusual feature all the same.
Lean mean RPG machine
In fact, Hello Hero All Stars is more remarkable for its dizzying level of streamlining than for its whole bad guy conversion thing.
Take quests. These arrive in a constant flow, which gets heavier as you recruit more heroes, but get this: you don’t actually do the quests. You just accept them, and then they’re instantly done. You can even complete batches of them at once, and increase these batches by purchasing extra slots.
At times Hello Hero All Stars feels more like a clicker than an RPG – particularly since progress is linear, measured in kilometers as you force your way up the path. It’s the sort of game you can leave aside for a while and then pick up again to reap your automatically accumulated rewards.
But that doesn’t mean Hello Hero All Stars is a shallow game. There’s a huge amount to do in terms of perfecting your squad and keeping everything levelled up in the right way.
While you’ll naturally cruise through your first couple of hours (unless you choose to jump forward to a boss you’re not ready for) things inevitably get tougher as you go deeper. You’ll soon find yourself poring over upgrade trees and hero stats – at least, you will if you want to keep up with your human rivals.
Of course, that may entail retreading old ground to grind for XP and loot – not everybody’s idea of a good time. Another alternative, less palatable still, is to pay for IAPs.
Even so, Hello Hero All Stars is a worthwhile addition to the series, taking it an interesting new direction while retaining some – but not all – of the franchise’s cartoony charm. The hyper-slick approach to RPG gameplay won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if you sit at the casual end of the spectrum you should find plenty to enjoy here.