By Steve Baltimore / March 30th, 2022
|Title||The Cruel King and the Great Hero|
|Developer||Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.|
|Release Date||March 15, 2022|
|Platform||Switch, PlayStation 4|
I’m always a sucker for a good turn-based RPG, and when I first saw The Cruel King and the Great Hero I knew this was one I’d want to check out. I love games done in this storybook style and the characters and premise here seemed interesting. After 23 hours I’ve completed everything you can do in this fantasy world, and now it’s time to share my thoughts. Was this one a grand fairy tale, or just another mediocre RPG? Let’s find out!
The story here follows a young girl named Yuu. Her father passed away when she was very young and left her in the care of the Dragon King. He has watched over her since then, telling her stories of her father’s heroic adventures. Yuu wants to become a great hero just like him, and the Dragon King wants to support her all the way. It’s now time for her to begin her journey, and Yuu will discover new friends and places she never imagined on her way to becoming the Great Hero!
This is a very simple but well done story. It’s great to watch Yuu grow as the adventure moves forward. The supporting cast of characters really help flesh out this story and give this world a lot of life. The stories told here show how a little kindness can go a long way, how to go on after the loss of a friend and so much more. There was a depth to this tale I never expected going into it based on the graphical style, but don’t make the mistake I did. There is some good meaty story here to enjoy.
Graphically, The Cruel King and the Great Hero looks like a living storybook. The hand-drawn character sprites are all nicely detailed, and even the battle transition looks like turning pages. The NPC characters got a lot of love here as well, with each of them having different accessories and such giving them unique looks. The animations here look great and fit this style very well. Yuu and her companions have some flashy special skills in combat that are all nicely done. The game features several different locations and they all look fantastic. From the ice covered mountains to the lush forest, I always noticed something different in the background each time I ran though these areas.
A good RPG must have a wonderful soundtrack, and this game delivers on that front. Each track here has that great fantasy feel and is very fitting for the area it’s used. The cave themes give off a bit of mystery, open areas get more upbeat themes that get you pumped for exploration, and there are some somber tunes for those touching moments. The characters do not speak, but there is a Japanese narrator that does a fantastic job bringing the cutscenes to life.
The gameplay here is what you would expect from a standard RPG. You will explore each side scrolling area while battling a ton of baddies along the way. You will have to look at exits in an area to figure out which direction you want to go in. The in-game map works really well, and they mark important areas for story progression and quests. In some places, Yuu will need the help of her companions to progress or acquire items. These will be marked with Question Marks on your map, and my only complaint with this is there is no way to note which companion you need. Is it a pit you need Flora to help you float over, or a chest you need Cybat to cut down? There is no way to know without taking notes on a piece of paper for yourself.
There is some depth to the turn-based combat here. Yuu and her companions each have some special skills at their disposal that will help you overcome all the baddies you will face. These will consume some skill points that you gain at the end of each round, so you will have to plan out your attacks accordingly. Each character can equip a weapon, some armor and two accessories. These offer many different status buffs and other helpful effects. Some will grant you extra skill points at the end of combat – my favorite gave back some stamina at the end of each round – and there are many more to choose from. Picking the right combinations will really help you out, especially during the tough boss battles found here.
While some armor and accessories can be purchased in the shop found in the village, most of them you will gain from treasure chests or by completing Acts of Kindness. These are the game’s side quests and there are a ton of them to complete. Most of them are fetch quests and they will run you all over the map. This is very time consuming since there aren’t many fast travel points to be found, but the items you obtain and the stories being told by completing these quests make them worth the effort. I got so wrapped up in wanting to know how these side quest stories all turned out I ended up completing all of them.
The Cruel King and the Great Hero is a simple game, but it has a lot of heart. The characters here are wonderful, and they tell a great story with messaging I think we can all appreciate today. I think this one is well worth the $29.99 asking price, even with my few minor complaints. The physical Storybook Edition of this one is great as well. It will set you back $59.99, but it comes with a nice hardcover artbook, a soundtrack download and a very cute Yuu Plushie. The artbook is really neat because it has a great design and contains the illustrations you can unlock in game. I am very glad I decided to review this one. I had a lot of fun here, and this wonderful story will stick around with me for a while. If you’re fan of storybook adventures, RPGs, or just want to experience a good story, this one is well worth your time.
Game and Storybook Edition were both provided by the publisher for review.
Nippon Ichi SoftwareNIS AmericaRPGstorybookThe Cruel King and the Great Hero