January 16, 2012

Glory of Heracles - Ranking

Story & World

Being set in mythological Greece gives a huge amount of material to go off of.  GoH does use a lot of the gods and places but in name only.  The gods are not at all portrayed as their actual characters are and are basically just there to give Heracles stuff.  Heracles felt like a sufficient hero in the world.  People in every town would recognize and encourage Heracles in his quest.  Progressing from the mortal world to the heavenly realm and then to the underworld totally gave an epic feel to the whole ordeal.

Talking with the townsfolk delivers the crucial hints needed to know what to do.  Some go as far as to give exact map coordinates which would otherwise be impossible to find.  As is the norm, about half of the townsfolk give good hints and the other half just cheer Heracles on.  Thankfully, the helpful citizens tend to be outside and about in the town while the useless ones stay inside their houses.

The quests are nicely laid out and have some overlapping of each other.  The earlier quests are all found and completed in a small area and gradually get longer and longer as the game progresses.  Some quests require a set of different quests to be completed before finding the item needed to complete the initial quest.  It was good to see Heracles sweat a little after quests started to pile up.  I would have preferred more quests from the actual 12 labours of Heracles but the game did include a couple.  The quest-resetting password system is really screwy and did a lot to damage game immersion.  If the inventory capacity had just been doubled, it would have prevented the need to reset a quest in order to reacquire a key item.  8/20

Character Development

Basic three stat system affecting attacking, defense, and magic power.  While leveling does increase these stats, along with Hit Points, the raises are quite small compared to the bonuses given by equipment.  Static raise in stats and no inherent magical ability (all magic is done via items).  In this play, the level cap was reached around 60% completion but I suspect this was mostly due to my poor exploring skills (and high encounter rate).

Having the latest weapons and armour weighed far more heavily than gaining levels in terms of battles.  This meant that grinding in an area provided little gain and it was more important for Heracles to find the next town and check out the shops there.  Bosses and certain creatures also have resistance or weakness to weapon types.  For example, sea creatures take almost no damage from all weapons except for tridents.  When the ship is first obtained, there is only one trident available making it a crucial item needed to continue while not actually being a MacGuffin itself.  With three weapon slots, Heracles had a good selection to pick from during battles (not that it really mattered most of the time).  6/20

Combat & Monsters

Combat consists of taking turns beating each other into a pulp, like most games of the era.  The magic system is based around certain items carried by Heracles.  These can be reused indefinitely but since most of them do the same (or less) damage than a weapon, there is little reason to use them (except against bosses that have a weakness against the magic type).  They also take up a valuable item slot which could otherwise hold one of the many quest items.  The game features an option to talk to the opponent during a fight.  It only seemed to work on boss creatures and regardless of answering yes or no, the fight continues anyway.

Amid the strange and wonderful foes encountered (with equally strange names), I couldn't help wondering how many came from mythology.  I didn't recognize many of the creatures but Greek mythology is full of twisted and bizarre creatures and my knowledge of the subject might not be deep enough.  The majority of them are pretty unique (cue the Sexy Moron).  Unique in appearance anyway all regular monsters have a basic melee attack and that's it.  Some bosses have magic but it is usually ineffective.  I won't beat a dead Pegasus but feel I must also mention the asinine encounter rate again here.  4/20

Graphics & Sound

The overworld map and its towns are quite blocky and fairly ugly.  Towns have colours that clash something fierce and the architecture is soooo dated.  A background of some kind would have been nice during battles but the foes themselves were nice to look at.  Music for most locations was nicely done with the exception of the battle music which is quite irritating (likely due in part to the encounter rate).  7/20

Gameplay

Broke the bank at around midgame.  With the high encounter rate, Heracles was never short on gold except for at the beginning.  If you knew exactly where to go and what to do,  it would balance out somewhat more.  With my emphasis on exploring (as well as my wandering when I got stuck), Heracles had no problems amassing his 65,535 pieces of gold fortune.  The best items are ones that found through quests later in the game and economy takes another hit because of that.   

The game is semi-linear.  While certain quests need to be done in order to be able to access a restricted area, there are many quests that can be done at any time and others that carry over into different areas.  The challenge was fair overall.  Exploring a new area usually meant a lot of retreating from the foes until a town (and a night at the inn) could be found.  With the quest-resetting problem being as it is, the pace of the game suffers a lot.  Having to redo a fair number of quests really bogged down the whole experience.

Also, encounter rate.  5/20

Final Ranking:  30/100