I don't know about you guys, but one thing I'm really bad at is going into things with an open mind. Now, I know, that's a horrible thing for a critic to say, but whether it's hearing movie recommendations from a friend, reading about strange recipes in old cookbooks, or, yes, being handed a game to review, there have been times when I have said, “oh, bugger, one of these again” instead of saying “right, let's just see where this goes...”. It's a bad attitude to have and one that I am now ashamed of; Hero and Daughter+ has recently played a great role in this.
Made in RPG Maker using default assets, Hero and Daughter+ initially seems like it shouldn't inspire much confidence; a quick scan of the visuals and music would suggest that the game is a completely derivative work no bit dissimilar to a first-time project. That aside, Hero is based on a fresh concept: you play as the great hero Ralph, under command of the king, tasked with defeating the new evil plaguing the world. Your stats are unparalleled and your new mission should be a walk in the park for you. Just one problem; your employers are mental and want you to do things the hard way; they provide you with a potion that resets your stats to rock-bottom level 1, with EXP having no effect whatsoever on you.
It is here where Hero and Daughter+ becomes very interesting. As you are less than useless on your own, a local haremancer (a mancer of the harem, that is) takes pity on you and summons an array of girls with different abilities to fight on your behalf, allowing you to fill out your party of four and stand a chance in the game. Unlike Ralph, these girls can level up conventionally, so it will be your job to take them through levels and train them up so they can adequately protect the level one hero. This isn't to say that Ralph is a weakling: he can be trained by spending gold on stat-enhancing meals, but it's clever of the game to focus on the supporting party rather than just the protagonist: everyone feels important, and training up your harem of girls becomes just as significant as defeating the final boss. It should be very clear, then, that Hero and Daughter+ isn't your average RPG, and it's all the better for it.
At face value, this game isn't very long. There is a whopping total of three dungeons, with a final one opening up once the bosses of the first three are defeated. However, in the same vein as Super Mario Bros., Hero and Daughter+ is in fact a deceptively long game. First of all, these dungeons are in no way a “one and done” affair – you'll have to traverse them several times in order to capitalise on the random events and “bounty missions” – being tasked to kill a high-level boss for coin. Then, like in all good RPGs, you have to farm EXP in order to plumb through the next ones, and this process takes a lot of time, or at least, enough time to make an RPG Maker game an acceptable purchase. Dungeon crawling is an unbelievably entertaining affair, one that I found myself hard to break away from. Say goodbye to your time with this game because it'll disappear quicker than honey in the 100 Acre Wood.
Clearing out dungeons isn't the main raison d'etre for the game's existence. Your party can gain EXP, but so can the town you live in. Initially, you will start off with few items available to you to buy; you can get potions and a Fire Tome, and that's about it. However, spending money in the town will earn it EXP, which initially sounds dumb, but if you liken it to stimulating an economy, it all makes sense; and as you level up, better items, spells, and later, equipment and housing are available to you (Hero and Daughter+ allows you to play interior designer, even going as far as letting you invite girls to your house, but the whole feature is entirely ceremonial). As such, the game gives you with two “missions” – defeating the end-game boss, and lifting up your village into a more powerful settlement, which adds a lot to the replay value and provides a nice breather from the battling.
However, not all games are created equal, and Hero and Daughter+ is in no way perfect. Most annoying of all its faults, it uses stock RPG Maker assets, and many of the tiles seen in other RPG Maker games are all here. As a result, Hero and Daughter+ struggles to stand out visually. An example that may be jarring to people familiar with both games: many characters in Labyronia, another Steam RPG, and this game share the same sprites, except Labryonia employed them in main roles; showing the dire need this game had to use its own art. Aside from that, the visuals just look bland and also-ran.
Yet, make no mistake, even though Hero and Daughter+ leaves much to be desired visually, it plays like a dream, and ironically, for a game that looks so bland, it does a fantastic job of standing out from the pack conceptually. Not an easy thing to do in a genre where we've seen it all before, but Hero and Daughter+ is 100% honestly the most innovative RPG that I've seen since Half Minute Hero. Be a hero, pick this one up.
Hero and Daughter+ (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
A fantastic RPG title that deserves your attention. Fair warning: if you do give this game your attention, good luck at prying it away. It's an addictive one...