Heroland is something of an enigma. On paper, it sounds great. It's the product of the combined talent of developers behind games such as Mother 3, Legend of Mana, and Fantasy Life. All are subjectively great games, so one would think that Heroland would be a promising title. As it turns out, Heroland's mechanics felt too hands-off during my, ironically, hands-on demo at E3.
In Heroland, players are a tour guide within this fantasy-like amusement park. Because it's an RPG, there's combat and party management involved. Instead of you as the protagonist, you'll be aiding the true adventurers on their journey as a guide. It's a neat premise and I wish I had more time to experience the plot at E3. The demo opted to throw me into the middle of the story instead. The demo is dialogue-heavy, yet I had no introduction and therefore no investment into the characters.
The dialogue itself seems pretty quirky, so Heroland is not a serious game. It's set in an amusement park after all. I did like some of the character designs, though. One was this otter that didn't seem to want people to know he was an animal. Another was a spoiled prince, but I'm told there are many more characters to have in your party. Each are represented as 3D sprites, like Mother 3 characters that bounce and wobble around. Artistically, the environments of Heroland isn't anything extraordinary, but I did enjoy the characters and enemies' appearances.
My main issue with my demo of Heroland is the combat. Fighting a group of enemies feels too much like a clicker game, except you're not even smashing buttons all that much. You can dictate how your party acts during each combat encounter. If you want them all to be defensive, you can command everyone to do so. If you want them to be aggressive, have at it. Each ally also has their own set of abilities, making them a bit more unique. You can command them to use a specific ability or target the boss, for instance. The only problem is, you can only order units around via "assistance" every 10 seconds or so, but this varies depending on the speed of the battle.
If an ally is hurt, you can use assistance to give them a healing item, but then you'll have to wait a duration again until you can use another action. Therefore, it ends up not being a very interactive game, even if you're planning your moves ahead as you wait for the assistance meter to fill up. I can see its appeal if you're looking for something casual and rich in story, but it just didn't click for me.
Perhaps with more time to explore the park area with unique shops and NPCs, I would have enjoyed Heroland more. As it stands, it could be a game for you if you're interesting in the developer's past works and need a game you can pick up and put down easily. I understand that when it was released in Japan as Work x Work, people were excited for a Western release. If you're familiar with the Japanese version of Heroland, you've probably already made up your mind, but I'll likely take a pass.
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