Title: HEROINE ANTHEM ZERO episode 1
Publisher: Winking Entertainment
Genre: Action, Adventure, Role-Playing
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Audience: Teen – Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Violence
Release Date: Out Now – 23/05/19
Price: £11.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
With an emotionally resonating soundtrack and beautiful visual art style, Heroine Anthem Zero is the FIRST EPISODE in an epic fantasy adventure game from WindThunder Studio.
An unforgettable experience that blends storytelling, music and stunning visuals, it is over ten years in the making. Come and enter the moving world of adventure from long ago.
The story begins with the last Cataclysm, with the descendants of the Savior rebuilding the land around the World Tree Terasyr. Thousands of years later the Engora Dynasty grows into prosperity, with Fae and Human together resisting the encroaching advances of evil from the edges of the world, and deathly Longhorn Woods.
As fate brings Wanin the Forest Keeper and the wandering cat-girl Shama Kutami together, the entangling web of destinies unfolds. In a world unforgiven by God, their fight for survival unknowingly bears the weight and sins of thousands of generations hereafter.
1. Available in English for the first time! Heroine Anthem Zero is the first game in the series to support English!
2. Featuring well-known Voice Actors in various languages, including Yūsuke Kobayashi (The Heroic Legend of Arslan) and Tomoka Wakabayashi (The iDOLM@STER)
3. Exquisitely detailed 2D visuals, bring the world of Heroine Anthem Zero to life with its vibrant characters and stunning world setting.
4. A hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, following in the tradition of the Heroine Anthem series: famous composers (known for their work in RPG classics such as Chinese Paladin series) as well as Japanese composers new to the series have joined forces to produce unforgettable music.
5. Weapons and skills — Character progression is closely tied to the weapon and items in Heroine Anthem Zero, switching weapons changes damage and other attributes, as well as attack motions. Weapons can also interact with the stage levels.
6. Explore carefully crafted side-scrolling maps and dungeons, solve interactive puzzles and discover hidden treasure locations for powerful items.
Developed by a Taiwanese game development outfit known as WindThunder Studios, Heroine Anthem Zero: Episode 1 is the first of three instalments. Placing itself firmly in the RPG genre, it is also arguably best described as a hack-and-slash 2D side-scrolling platformer. Combining combat, story-telling and a good ol’ adventure, Heroine Anthem Zero has the makings of a real work of art.
Taking control of Wanin, a Forest Keeper for the Uzato Tribe, and accompanied by Mormolia, a fae or ‘fairy’, you traverse a land of great heritage and history. During your time in Episode 1, you will learn more about the issues that plague the land, the reasons behind these problems, and will work with a motley crew of personable, relatable characters to protect the beloved towns and the people inhabiting them.
Gameplay & Replayability
Not one for creating undue suspense, let’s begin with the storyline: bizarre. Attempting to blend western and middle-eastern elements, WindThunder has produced a storyline that results in a mismatch of direction. I wanted to like the story, particularly as the art style and audio components had made for quite the engaging experience, however, its failure to know precisely what it was attempting to achieve left me wanting more. The reasons for confusion lie in the environments crafted, and the NPCs encountered. The two combined would create quite the fantastic historical production, if not for the odd character development and lack of synchronicity between character and landscape.
Outside of the storyline, which felt much like a missed opportunity, the combat could be summarised similarly. It is a hack-and-slash title in its truest form, with only one button required to attack and defeat foes. It does develop to include variations on the theme, i.e. hold ‘Y’ for a charged attack, however, aside from purchasing weapons and collecting stat modifiers along the way, there is little else to report.
The inclusion of a party to manage others in the group and modify their stats would have been ideal. This would certainly have piqued my interest a little more, as the quests were familiar in design and the boss battles were self-explanatory and far from challenging. One element I did enjoy is the opportunity to collect boosters, which increase your attack power. You can store a maximise of three, and for as long as you hold onto them, your attack will be better. When attacked by an enemy, you may lose one of them and have to collect it again before it is lost.
As well as simplistic battle sequences, the games controls for manoeuvring around the world are simplistic at best too. There is the option to jump, double jump and dash – most of which is done by using the analogue stick and pressing A. Although easy to understand and pick up and play, the use of ‘UP’ as the option of choice when interacting with environments or NPCs was not so simple. I would often find myself interacting when I had chosen not to because the game was sensitive to my analogue stick use when running or jumping. This became a mild annoyance, and having read a little into the history of this game, it becomes apparent that this has always been an issue – one that hasn’t been rectified here.
Not one to be too despondent to a game and what it has to offer, I still find myself having to reference the map. It is not very intuitive, and often I found myself headed in the wrong direction with on-screen prompts few and far between. The fast travel option becomes more readily available later in the game, but I did not enjoy my early experiences navigating what should have been a simplistic, linear world.
Audio & Visual
There is a sense of pride that emanates from the audio and visual elements of Heroine Anthem Zero, and rightly so. The development team have placed great importance on both as pivotal to the gaming experience, and have orchestrated some genuinely extraordinary work. With the game rumoured to have been in development for ten years, it is clear to see where the majority of the time was spent.
With a lack of English voiceovers, cutscenes that are text heavy, and uninspired action, it would be easy to disregard this title as yet another platformer on the Switch. That being said, there is a charm to this title that cannot be understated. The artistry is exceptional and kept me engaged in its world both in-game and during the more lengthy, historical teachings. The melodies were on point and created an atmosphere that meant I was keen to learn more. It has undoubtedly been one of the more memorable titles for me of late for both audio and visual offerings, and I wish that the true potential of these parts had been realised.
It is unfortunate that the competition is so fierce now as there would have been a time when this game was heralded. As it stands though, several titles will steal your time away from this one. For those always on the lookout for a new side-scrolling platforming adventure, however, I think you owe it to yourself to become immersed in the sights and sounds of this wonderful showcase of the arts – even if it is a little strange.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase HEROINE ANTHEM ZERO episode 1 on the Nintendo eShop at the following link: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/HEROINE-ANTHEM-ZERO-episode-1-1556788.html
Side note: It is worth mentioning that within this title there are lewd female references which should be considered when making a purchase.