16/05/2017

☆ Review: Herald - "Get Your Sea Legs Ready, We're Going On A Voyage!" ☆ @Wispfire

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Herald - PC The trailer of Herald exudes style and genuinely feels like something a little different. As far as I know I’ve never played a video game developed by a Dutch team with the exception of Killzone back on the Playstation 2 which obviously differs greatly from the visual novel genre.


Upon starting Herald, the craftsmanship on offer is clear and the fact that this is coming from a small development team of only four people is astonishing.


Wispfire has been working on Herald since 2014 and I’m pleased to say that it was worth their time and it is definitely worth yours.

Picture1
"Whoever did the artwork in this game deserves a brandy, an expensive one."


The thought of playing an interactive period drama was instantly alluring to me as it felt such a unique premise, the period and place in which Herald is set is relatively unknown to me and so I was looking forward to broadening my knowledge.


After a brief introduction to the main character Devan Rensburg, who is being held ‘prisoner’ by a lady known as The Rani, the game flashes back to the beginning of Devan’s voyage and it is in this timeline that the majority of the game takes place.


The graphics continued to astound me as I played the game, the portraits of the characters that popped up when in the conversation were incredibly detailed and each portrait shimmers and moves to give a feeling of life to each person in the game, it’s a technique that adds an extra layer of involvement to the gameplay.

The in-game character models themselves are presented in a stylised way which reminded me of Escape from Monkey Island, which as everyone knows is a good thing. The backgrounds of the game and all animations are smooth and match the lulling, unobtrusive music which couches the game-play.


Herald is fully voice acted to an extremely high standard. Due to the nature of the game, there is a lot of dialogue but it is all handled well and I noticed no mismatches of speech to text which can sometimes be an issue in this genre.

The game uses a mostly static camera with occasional sweeping flourishes during cut scenes, this ties in nicely with the point and click gameplay with the focus being heavily geared towards dialogue choices which are well-constructed.

Whilst there are usually only three choices you can make, I found they were varied enough for me to always answer in the way I wanted to. In this regards the game reminded me of Deus Ex: Human Revolution as that game also had the knack of giving you dialogue choices that suited your style of play.


Narrative-wise, the game's’ focus is on moving forwards and telling a story as opposed to challenging the player with puzzles, this makes for a very breezy gaming experience in which you can focus on the tale being told.


"Luckily, he didn’t say ‘no drinking and spewing’, fewf."


The game has a lot of hot spots to click on but these are more for informational purposes to add to the thoroughness of the game world, these are interesting and give an insight into life at sea at the time. As you progress through the game, various items and areas are added to the in-game encyclopaedia which can be accessed by clicking on the top of the screen.


"Small glitches such as this are extremely rare in the game, Herald is VERY polished, just ask the deckhand.."

In-game objects of interest are highlighted when you roll the mouse over them, this avoids pixel hunting issues, which is a nice touch.


The game being set on a boat keeps the story tight and focused, each character also has a separate personality and voice actor which makes it easy to distinguish between them. Whilst the game is set in a time during which I’m sure there were intense class division and hardship, Herald exists in a world where that divide is somewhat romanticised. In the game there is no bad language and each character is quirky and has their own foibles but whilst there is the insinuation of racial and sexual divides, they are not the main thrust of the narrative.

Summary:
Herald is a wonderfully realised game and it’s branching narrative offers replay value. I completed the first chapters in a little over two hours and I would like to point out that there aren’t many puzzles in the game, as it focuses instead on plot and atmosphere but in my personal experience this can be preferable over forced sliding / lock-box puzzles to artificially extend a game.


If an interactive visual novel is something that floats your boat, I’d suggest getting a brandy ready and tucking into Herald. I eagerly await the next voyage!



RATING:ICE COOL

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)


Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: WispFire















Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)



"Stay Frosty!"