Review: Hero Generations Regen

By Mark Robinson 05 Sep 2016 4

Review: Hero Generations Regen

Released 18 Aug 2016

Developer: Heart Shaped Games
Available from:
App Store
Steam
Reviewed on: iPad 4

Do you worry about the future? Do you often lay awake at night wondering what kind of legacy you will leave behind? Do you wonder if you have forged a future for your children and future generations?

If you have answered yes to any of these, you might want to stick around.

Time is a mechanic that is often overlooked within video games. There are classic examples that allow you to manipulate and bend time to your will, but few where the foreboding inevitability of time dawns on you with every waking step you take. Hero Generations Regen attempts to use this as its overriding theme and makes it work to great effect: you lose a year of your life with every step taken, so every movement you make can have serious consequences if not thought out.

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The result of leaving it so late to procreate.

The problems come thick and fast, though, and where these limitations are put in place to add challenge; they end up adding frustration instead, where heavy repetition smothers any desire to explore. You may have the whole of any given lifespan to do as you please, but are limited through your early years and handicapped as you grow older. While it may replicate real life somewhat, it realistically only gives you a short time frame within to actually get anything done.

The over-world is not particularly massive, yet getting round to exploring it all feels like a massive grind due to a one-two punch in design choice: the enemies in the surrounding areas see a massive spike in difficulty, and the traits you inherit from your parents are not enough to see you through these areas without wasting up to half your life grinding your stats up. This would be fine if the combat didn't end up working against this system. Relying on RNG, you build up a battle meter, which you can increase either by building barracks or simply aging every ten years (it will decrease when you get too old) and you use that number in a roll of the dice against your opponent’s meter. It is entirely luck based, so losing a battle when you have 42 and your enemy has 20 is nothing short of infuriating – especially if it ends up hacking 20 odd years or so off your life. Bottle this all up and it just feels like two mechanics - which are perfectly serviceable on their own – are clashing against each other which is massively detrimental to the game. A combat system that offered you a chance to use even a minuscule amount of skill may have entirely changed how this game flows. Instead, progress always feels like it is not in your control.

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Buildings can be upgraded to improve stats.

There is an element of resource management, though it is minimal, and again, feels more frustrating than anything. You can only hold two items at a time, with quest-incentive items, weapons and shields that boost stats. Stat boosters are necessary at just about every turn as the over-world is teeming with enemies who also use such items. This leaves you at best with one slot, meaning you're almost always leaving something behind. This would all be fine if, again, the overall system was not flawed to begin with.

If you get lucky you can inherit stats that gives your offspring a head start: extra years, increased attack points; but if you draw a short hand – which can happen regardless of how well you have built up your character – it can quickly spell game over. Rogue-like games such as Spelunky or Binding of Isaac play with elements seen here in Hero Generations, but with those examples, failure comes at your expense. Sure, the difficulty can be ramped up massively, but progression is still possible. It is just not the case here.

Yet, with all that said, I still like this game. The presentation is simple; on the surface it passes off as a clone of a typical F2P you would see on the front of the app store, but dig a little underneath and you see all the touches that add to the overall design, such as when you pass down physical traits to your children and your avatar’s appearance changing over time. It all has a level of charm, and the scene that plays of the offspring leaving home - saluting their parents on the way out – is heartwarming stuff (unless one or both of the parents is dead, then it all gets a bit harrowing). The performance gets a little choppy at points, but for a turn-based game, it does not affect the gameplay.

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The numbers on your side? Still as much of a chance you will lose.

The iOS port behaves by and large the same as its PC counterpart; you tap on tiles around you to move, you can push and pull the screen to zoom in and out, and pushing down on enemies gets you their stats. The transition across is so seamlessly done that you could argue the mobile port is better and what the game was originally intended for; having played both I would recommend mobile as the way to go.

For lovers of the strategic, Hero Gen might just be the game for them. I imagine that with enough time invested, there is a rewarding experience to be had by the end. I personally found the whole experience just a tad too restricting and the core mechanics too frustrating to enjoy. If I had been given just a little more room to spread my wings and explore, I think I would have found myself becoming seriously addicted. Instead, that urge and drive to plough hours into it is diminished because of how good it could have been. The most conflicted I have been on a game in some time - I guess that is an accomplishment of sorts.  

Satisfying first impressions are conflicted with a lasting impression of frustration, due to equally conflicting mechanics. Yet there is still enough here for a tentative recommendation.

Review: Hero Generations Regen

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