By Phil Schipper / October 8th, 2015
|Developer||Heart Shaped Games|
|Publisher||Heart Shaped Games|
|Release Date||April 10, 2015|
Throughout history, many cultures have taken for granted that getting married is a strategic move, for the good of both families and the future bloodline. Love comes second. Of course, especially now, other cultures say that love is the only reason to get married, and sees the other theory as sort of heartless. I’ve spent most of my life in that particular camp, but one game has allowed me to understand the other side somewhat, if not actually sympathize. That game is Hero Generations.
You play as one in a line of many heroes. On the grid-based map, you explore, pick up objects, fight monsters, upgrade cities, and more. However, every time you make a move, your character ages by one year. Starting at age 16, your character will get stronger and receive bonuses as they mature and reach their peak. Once they start becoming elderly, though, their combat strength will dwindle. There’s a limited amount of lifespan that your character can have, although it varies a bit with some bonuses; if it’s allowed to run out, the bloodline dies out and you reach Game Over.
The way to prevent this is by settling down and having kids. If you go into a town, you can view multiple possible “mates.” Each one might have a different lifespan and possible bonuses to pass down. Once you have chosen, you’ll pick bonus cards for your next heir. Most bonus cards are face-down mysteries, but some will be partly revealed already. You’ll know what kind those cards are, but not how good they actually are. Depending on the parents’ remaining life and special skills, you might have different cards or more flips available. Once you finish, sixteen years will pass as your child grows up, and you’ll resume play as him or her.
The types of mates you’ll find depend on the type of town you go into. Most towns will start out with special buildings on one or more sides, but you can upgrade these buildings or even create new ones with gold. Their functions range from revealing part of the map, to periodically dropping potions that increase a hero’s strength, to acting as warp points to other towns anywhere in the world. However, almost all buildings have one thing in common: you need to walk onto them when you want their benefits, and most of those benefits take time to appear.
Combat in Hero Generations is somewhat unusual. When encountering an enemy, you can choose to run (for a penalty) or fight. When you fight, both sides roll a number from 0 to their combat strength, and the higher number wins. That character takes a set number from the other side’s lifespan, possibly killing the victim. Though, if the loser does survive, they must return to their previous space. Sometimes there is a draw, and nobody gets hurt. Although this seems like a heavy-handed use of randomness, the side with the higher strength seems to win an overwhelming majority of the time.
While each generation can feel like a fresh start, the new hero will walk out onto the same world as his or her ancestors, with the same towns and buildings and usually holding whatever equipment was passed down to them. Inherited skills and bonuses from the cards can allow certain lucky members of the family to be many times more successful than their parents. Eventually, you’ll learn that the first (relatively small) map screen contains paths to other worlds, which have much more complicated terrain and tougher monsters.
The main goal of the game is to build up a lot of fame. You can get fame by defeating monsters, exploring certain tiles or any number of other objectives. Most decent mates have a minimum fame required to marry them, but the highest amount of fame you’ve had sticks on your screen, encouraging you to beat it next time and make the high score list. If this isn’t enough for you, there is a “doomsday” event that occurs after a certain number of generations, spawning a demonic beast that can easily destroy just about anything. You can make it your objective to defeat it, but that doesn’t end the game by any means. Past that point, the game goes back to being a sort of sandbox where you try to build up as much fame as possible in one generation.
Unfortunately, the cycle can get a little repetitive, especially in a turn-based game. At times, it feels like your decisions only have the most indirect effects. The ones that make the biggest difference are basically random anyway. Worse still, the fog of war on the map resets every generation. This is especially frustrating on later maps where a lot of tiles are impassable obstacles, considering that every move counts.
The music and sounds are forgettable, if you notice them much in the first place. They seem to fade into the background very quickly, in my experience. Graphically, too, it is neither ugly nor spectacular. The pieces of the game fit together and do the jobs they’re supposed to do–but they’re not really too elegant about it.
Still, although I doubt this was the intention, I do have to give this game credit for the insight I gained about marriage for strategy. It’s pretty small — I can’t rightly give it a play time due to its nature — and at $15 USD, it seems a little pricey relative to that. However, for what it is, it’s at least not bad.
Review copy supplied by the publisher
heart shaped gamesHero GenerationsPCReviewRPGturn-based strategy