Heroine Anthem Zero: Episode 1 Review- Hero or Zero?
Heroine Anthem Zero: Episode 1
What we have here from Winking Entertainment Corporation is a clever merging of Eastern and Western cultures.
On the one hand, Heroine Anthem takes a lot of Anime tropes then puts a European spin on it, namely that of Norse mythology. On paper it sounds bizarre yet it really works.
The story centres around Wanin of The Forest Keepers Guild, the chosen guardians charged with protecting the Engoran people after the last great Cataclysm. Meanwhile the kingdom endeavours to rebuild the lands around Terasyr, The World Tree.
Heroine Anthem is essentially a 2D action platformer, with some light resource/gear management thrown in for good measure. The sprites have a slightly pixelated feel to them.
However rather than going for the usual pixel art style of the retro consoles, these look closer to Game Boy Advance visuals, set upon hand painted backdrops, it’s nothing short of beautiful.
Where Heroine Anthem really shines is it’s sound design. So much so that they even recommend you play with headphones on for the best experience. Perfectly encapsulating that medieval Viking feel. Whether it’s the sea shanty style music in the town’s, to tavern bards in, well taverns of course. Most of the cutscenes are voice acted in Japanese.
Unfortunately my play through was brought to an abrupt end due to a number of optimisation issues. Whilst for the most part the frame rate holds up pretty well, it does suffer from a lot of dropped frames.
Initially this only occurred during the many cutscenes and whilst transitioning between the cutscenes and action. Already this was an issue for me right from the start. Constantly jumping from scene to action, to scene again, with stuttering, freezing and lots (and lots) of black screens. I kept getting pulled from the immersion of the tale being told.
To begin with this never affected the gameplay, which was somewhat of a blessing, well at least for the first 2-3 hours or so.
Later on however, when the environments got denser, with more enemies and foliage it started to happen more often. In particular a certain platforming/jumping section in the woods springs to mind. So many times did I die here at the hands of missed frames mid jump.
It doesn’t get any better when it comes to the controls either. Aside from some very odd button mapping choices, by which I mean “Dash” being mapped to a double tilt of the stick (a la Kirby), yet the “Use Item” gets its own button (X) rather than being on the right stick. All while the triggers do nothing.
There also happens to be some peculiar button delay. This is especially noticeable in the jumping and attacking portions of the game. Which in and of itself need to be tight and responsive in a platform hack n slash game. But even the menus suffer from this.
For the most part I can overlook some minor technical issues, especially if the other aspects of the game are solid. However it becomes unforgivable if these issues encroach on my immersion, enjoyment and most importantly my progress.
I wanted to enjoy Heroine Anthem, I really did. It had the makings of a great game. A solid story to tell, unique visual design that is very underused in my opinion, all wrapped up with some fantastic audio.
But when it’s mired by the aforementioned technical issues it becomes very difficult to fully enjoy and recommend. Now as the title suggests, this is going to be an episodic adventure. Let’s hope we see some improvements in the upcoming episodes, or more importantly they can patch this one up.
Those that do delve into Heroine Anthem however will find a wealth of content to sink their teeth into. For a pretty respectable £11.69GBP or $12.99USD it is in the right price range, providing they can fix the issues.
Not Quite There/Needs Improvement
Reviewed by Neil on the Nintendo Switch. Game provided by Winking Entertainment, developed by Wind Thunder Studio.