I’ve been playing A Hero’s Call on and off for the past two weeks, and I realized something.
I don’t like open world games.
I went into this RPG expecting it to be something else: The impression I got from the advertisement of it was a linear, story based RPG, much like a Final Fantasy, Tales of, or any other JRPG series that is heavily based on plot. While there is a plot, it isn’t a heavy one. It’s one that gets the purpose of the game across: Explore a ton, find quests, have fun just experiencing the open world format of the game. It bothered me that the game wasn’t a more story based game, even though there are story points sprinkled in here and there, full blown lore, and interesting enough characters. Is the writing in the game perfect? I don’t think so. I think the story and characters could have been fleshed out a lot more. Right now they’re rather generic fantasy characters, and although they’re likeable enough, it leaves something to be desired
There are points where you can talk to characters and get more information about them. I think maybe once, in a specific area? I’ve tried talking to them at different points of the game and haven’t gotten anything new to speak to them about, other than one character, after I finished one of the major plot centric quests, so perhaps that’s how you get new dialogue. I got this super cute scene with all of the characters after having every party member which was nice, but once again, the characters aren’t as fleshed out as they could be, and don’t talk to each other much so it fell a little flat.
After realizing it was an open world game, I sort of just started to deal with it, embrace it, and explore. Instead of trying to get the plot centric quests done, I’ve decided to do a lot of smaller quests while doing things to further along the main line quest. So I’ve done that, and I’m enjoying the game a lot more. It still has a lot of the flaws in it I mentioned in my first impressions post, but playing this game as an open world game instead of as a linear storytelling RPG is a lot more enjoyable.
That being said, going off of this as an open world RPG, I feel like there needs to be a lot more to explore. I understand, it was a new developer, doing an awesome new audio RPG, but why not do a story based game with more linear gameplay, so you don’t have to make huge areas and the like? There are a lot of maps, but comparing it to mainstream, open world RPGs, it just leaves something to be desired. There’s a lot of dead space in the maps, as well, and a lot of empty space in town areas that could have been filled with sound effects of people being active there. Some good examples of this are the tavern, general store, and temple: all three of them only have the head priest, the store owner, and the tavern and inn owner in them (plus a mercenary for hire in one of the rooms) but why not add some people walking in and out? Or even just some crowd ambience, so it sounds like you’re walking into a busy tavern at certain times of the day. Why not have people whispering to themselves about the priests preachings, or the general store owner conversing with a townsperson, or client when entering sometimes. Just little bits of polish I think could have taken this game over the top, with a little more development time.
As I said earlier, sometimes it feels like you’re just wandering somewhere and the character is going no where because of how big the maps are. With audio only, the footsteps sound like they’re walking in place at times, especially in echoey cavern areas. If there were some sort of indicator as to whether or not you were moving that wasn’t just footsteps, for derpy people like me who can’t always tell if they’re moving, that would be great.
Like I said, open world games just aren’t my thing. I’m enjoying the game, but given the choice between a game like this, and a game like say, Tales of Symphonia or Final Fantasy VI, I’ll pick up the linear story based game every time. I like world building, character development, and stories being told that have a clear beginning and end, and I just don’t get that in open world RPGs. Still fun, but not my cup of tea.
I feel it’s important to hold audio game developers to the same standards as other mainstream, or indi developers. We’ll say indi developers, because they’ll be on the same playing field with the resources available to them. Audio games will never get the recognition they deserve if they’re just given a pat on the back for existing, and that’s why I’m critiqueing this, just like I would any other RPG I’ve played. My major critique about the game in general is that it could have had a bit more polish before release, but I get wanting to get the game out for people to play and fixing it with patches later. A Hero’s Call was only 20 USD, and for the price I think it’s definitely worth buying it, even if it’s just to support the advancement of audio games made to this quality of standard: it’s amazing what the developers have done with the game, and I’m excited to see what they do next. Fingers crossed they do an RPG that’s more my style!
If you’re playing A Hero’s Call, would love to hear your thoughts on the game! Do you open world RPG fans find it very enjoyable?