Terrible jobs are part of everyone’s life at some point, but employment at Heroland may be the craziest job you’ve ever been tricked into taking. With kooky coworkers, demanding customers, and a boss who may be a legendary villain, the stage is set for a very enjoyable RPG, but you’ll have to grind your way to the end.
Heroland is a magical place that lets guests be the stars of their heroic adventures. In this amusement park, you run through deadly dungeons in a team of four and collect amazing treasures like manga or towers of sweets. The monsters you fight are also employees, and the company is more than a little evil.
For Lucky, it’s just another day at work. He is a new guide at Heroland, and his job is to shepherd customers to the end. Through a scheme by the unscrupulous management, he’s now in huge debt to the park for what could be the rest of his natural life. To repay it, he will be leading all kinds of people through the dungeons or undergo radical surgery to become a monster in the park.
Each “tour” that Lucky leads consists of a party of four customers. He escorts families of four, princes, knights, and thieves through different dungeons. Each person can equip one of four weapon types from swords and staves to tablets and hammers. Many people prefer a specific role and weapon type, and keeping them happy is part of your job.
Each time into the dungeon is marked by following a horizontal line from left to right. Monsters occupy nodes, and you can see how much experience you’ll receive for fighting that monster, whether they have any rare plushies, or drop replicas that you can turn into new weapons at the blacksmith. There is a basic strength/weakness system for monsters, but combat is relatively uncomplicated if you don’t want to worry about that.
There is no free movement in the dungeons, but you do have a break between each fight to heal up before the next fight. As the guide, that will be your responsibility and financial burden. The item shop will sell you different items to heal or buff your team, but you’ll never actually engage in the fighting. A small gauge fills as you fight, and, once full, you can pause the action to use items to help your team or direct your team to use certain attacks or guard with different colored flags.
When the tour ends, your team will split the experience gained and level up. They will also level up their friendship with Lucky, which leads to an evolved special attack and better performance. Their happiness level, determined by which character landed the killing blow and supplemented by you giving them loot along the way, will directly contribute to your level as a guide and your pay at the end. Increasing your guide level fills your gauge faster and gives you more room in your item bag.
All of these different systems are well balanced, and even though I wasn’t directly fighting, battles could be tense. Each tour has a recommended level. If you meet that and have your item bag fully stocked with potions, items to remove status elements or revive potions, you’ll be OK. It’s turn-based, but you’ll have to decide whether to use a potion on one person, remove a status one another, heal the entire team, or drop a plushie to attack your enemies.
Your characters make choices without your intervention. Strategically, it adds another layer, but it doesn’t always work the way you would like. If I used the black flag, they would hit the monster I wanted once, before moving on and doing whatever they wanted again. If they were already in the process of healing another player, they wouldn’t stop after I completely healed that same character. Customers who ignore your advice after a minute is probably something anyone in the service industry can relate to, but I didn’t like it here.
The biggest thing I didn’t like in Heroland was the grinding. After every story mission, the next mission was outside your current level, so you need to grind for experience, new weapons, or money to buy new items. That grind gap only grows as you near the end. The tedious levels you use to grind are the same levels you’ve already been through with the same monster types you’ve already fought with no new story.
You feel that impact more acutely because the writing in Heroland is excellent. It leans hard into its sense of humor, and if you like that it’s going to be a real treat. You have an otter that’s a man that’s an otter or both. You have references to movies, games, and even Heroland itself. You have characters speaking directly to you, and it’s genuinely funny. You have running in-game jokes. It takes on RPGs in a satirical way. Maybe I’m an easy mark, but I laughed out loud a few times and smiled a lot. I cannot imagine how hard this was to translate and get the humor right, but it’s fantastic. The writing and characters make Heroland a real gem.
That’s the biggest factor in whether Heroland is going to be for you. I think it’s one of the best-written games I’ve played in a long time. The humor doesn’t always land and it’s very goofy, but it’s just so well done that I couldn’t help but love it. The grind is bad, and re-running the same levels took away some of that joy. If you can tolerate that, there is a good game here, and you don’t even need a bad job to enjoy it.
Heroland PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7.5/10
Heroland is a decent RPG with some of the best writing and dialogue you’re going to find anywhere. It’s genuinely funny, and most of its jokes landed for me. The increasing grind as you reach the end feels artificial and unnecessary, but working towards that next story bit will help push you to a satisfying end.
- Fantastic writing and characters
- RPG satire with great sense of humor
- Unique take on traditional RPG
- Grinding the same levels over and over again
- Combat could use more variety
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.