By Tyler Trosper / August 15th, 2017
|Title||Herald: An Interactive Period Drama Book I & II|
|Release Date||February 22nd, 2017|
|Genre||Point-and-Click Adventure, Visual Novel|
|Platform||PC, Mac, Linux|
I must admit, I’m not really much of a history buff. I know several friends who are and go on for hours about the politics of so-and-so empire. I’m usually daunted by these friends yet impressed at the same time. When starting up Herald: An Interactive Period Drama, I carried the same feeling of intimidation. The game is set during the 19th century, just as the sailing era is about to come to an end. I feared that, in order to truly enjoy the game, being a history buff would be required. Thankfully, that isn’t entirely the case.
First of all, the game is set in an alternate 19th century where the West has established itself as a colonial juggernaut known as the Protectorate. However, the game blends both fiction and real issues, such as imperialism and racism. Furthermore, the main character, Devan Rensburg, keeps a journal of everything he finds, writing entries on various items and events of his world. Though the game explained most of the bigger details sufficiently, the journal was a welcome addition to keep all of the little details squared away. So, along with learning details about the game’s world, you learn aspects of real history, such as the indigo trade.
That being said, the writing is superb. Though you make every decision for Devan, he still feels like his own character. Being of mixed heritage and never knowing his real family, Devan Rensburg decides to leave his comfy life in the Protectorate and head to the Eastern Colonies aboard the HLV Herald. Along his journey, the young man runs into various interesting characters and harrowing situations. The game switches from Devan talking about his life on the sea to the mysterious present, where he is being held captive by a woman known only as the Rani, which is a Hindu queen. Chapters end with cliffhangers that make you long for more, especially the end of Book II. Plus, if you want to learn more about the characters, playing through the game unlocks various letters either about or from many of the Herald’s crew.
Though at first glance you might think Herald is primarily a point-and-click adventure game, I would say the game is mainly a visual novel. The game is very text heavy, with choices being the bulk of the gameplay. The character’s sprites were done using Live2D, a technique that breathes life into otherwise static 2D images. That being said, the sprites are beautiful and transition into various emotions smoothly. The 3D models don’t reach quite as much beauty as the sprites do, but they are serviceable.
As a point-and-click game, Herald doesn’t stray too far from the norm. For both Book I and II, the game has you going from point A to point B to point C. There really isn’t much of anything like puzzles, as you mainly perform fetch quests around the ship. And using a controller makes fetching a tad awkward at times: the game features static camera angles, which can mess up your direction if you are using a controller to play the game. To be fair, the issue didn’t pop up a lot, but I would recommend just playing with a mouse and keyboard.
Only two out of four episodes are available at the moment, but each have their own self-contained plot. Of course, there is still the overarching story with Devan and the Rani, so it is beneficial to play the whole story. Each chapter averages about two hours of play time, which seems typical of episodic, story-driven games these days.
The sound of Herald is pretty good, for the most part. The soundtrack is filled with soothing piano pieces and tracks that make you feel like you are voyaging on a ship. The voice acting, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Devan comments on everything you interact with, and his voice actor performs his lines sufficiently. However, characters like Aaron Ludlow and Daniel Barros come off a bit flat, even during moments of intensity. For the most part, though, the cast is well acted and fit their roles beautifully.
Herald: An Interactive Period Drama is a game that can be enjoyed for its historical references and for its drama. Going into the game, I didn’t expect to be wrapped up in the lives of Herald’s crew, but I am fully invested now. A few hiccups in the voice acting and tedious fetching can be overlooked if you enjoy a good story. I eagerly await Book III & IV. Herald: An Interactive Period Drama Book I & II is available now on Steam, Humble Store, itch.io, and GOG.com for $9.99.
Review copy provided by the developer.
Herald: An Interactive Period DramaHerald: An Interactive Period Drama Book I & IILinuxMacPCpoint-and-click adventureSteamvisual novelWispfire