Hero: Adventure in Animal Kingdom is a game released in 2018 by TheCrimsonDM (Masks: 15 Pages, One Pirate series); it is an update of a game originally developed circa 2011.
The player starts by choosing a class and gender (there are only two sprites and they’re very similar), I chose the Spellsword class. The game instructed me to do combat training and look for someone to help me, and then I was executed by giant rats. Starting over I fled battle until I found a frog named Hop who led me to the elder of his frog village. The elder told me that to get home I would need to seek answers at the Ruined Temple in the north; he also advised me to talk to some foxes who lived to the east. The roads to the east and south refused my traversal verbally, so I decided to head north.
Early combat is pretty steep. Enemies are easy to kill, but they do a lot of damage and appear frequently. There’s a save/restore point on the first screen, a shop on the second screen, and the third screen is where the attrition of random encounters starts. In practice, this means a lot of running back and forth across three screens to heal, shop, and save before the player ever sees the end of the third screen (where all these necessities wait all clustered conveniently together – doh!). Luckily the player characters also level up pretty rapidly, so not too much time is wasted.
At the ruins, there is a broken mirror that must be restored before I can return home and a warning about four elemental monsters; the first of these – the wood elemental - attacks. Backtracking to the frog village, I start to make my way east to find the aforementioned foxes. Random encounters are too frequent in the Ash Forest, it becomes frustrating to just walk around; mercifully there’s an all-purpose rest/shop/save point at the end of it. A fox named Red is looking for her missing brother so she joins the party and everyone is off to fight the fire elemental. Red’s brother Lance joins the party, and everyone’s off to the south to fight the water elemental (who is actually pretty friendly and reasonable) and then back north to restore the mirror and open the portal. On the other side of the portal the party is confronted by the lightning guardian, who informs them that they’ve wrecked the fabric of the universe by opening the portal. Oh well.
My final save was at 2 hours 21 minutes, and my heroes were levels 9-13.
The story is mercifully tight and focused, but the text itself is a constant stream of linguistic mistakes. The graphics are probably even sloppier here than in Crystal Cave (it shares some art and free music assets with the One Pirate games as well), but Hero does have a lo-fi noob-game charm.
Combat is not particularly engaging, but it’s not a disaster either. There’s a lack of clarity in the battle menu (too many spell lists named after colors), random encounters occur too frequently (I fled a lot), the active time battle moves much too quickly for my taste (I don’t like taking damage while reading), and strategy basically boils down to spamming the correct elemental damage type (and occasionally healing); but I never found myself mindlessly holding the Enter key or slamming headfirst into an impassible brick wall of difficulty. It’s functional, if a little tedious at times.
Hero: Adventure in Animal Kingdom is clearly a noob game. It’s not great. It’s also short and focused enough not to be particularly painful either. It’s also complete, playable, and (to my knowledge) not broken in any major way. It’s less buggy than either of the One Pirate games, even if it also lacks the unbridled enthusiasm and epic ambitions of that series.
...spake The Lord Thy God.