Sunday, October 7

Review: Valthirian Arc - Hero School Story [Nintendo Switch eShop]


Having always been a huge fan of the classic Secret of Mana anytime I see a game that hints at that style of combat in an action RPG setting it gets me excited. In the case of Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story, there seemed to be a sort of bonus being brought to the table as well in the form of a building simulator of sorts as you’d be able to manage your school to help yourself on a path to glory. Unfortunately, though there are some rudimentary elements present that satisfy the basic itches you may have for either style of play neither is really fleshed out enough to be terribly satisfying.


Starting with the building and management aspect of the game the biggest issue is that this isn’t any sort of sandbox situation, what you’re ultimately doing is just filling in some blanks as you progress with little room for flair or meaningful decisions beyond a minor focus in your stat modifiers. As your school gains prestige through missions, graduating students, and running errands that satisfy various rulers you do gain more to potentially work with but it’s really an on-rails affair for the most part, which is disappointing. One word of warning is to carefully watch whether you’re signing your student teams up for active missions or errands. If you send everyone out on errands you can expect to need to do nothing for quite some time as that essentially leaves you nothing at all to do. How they didn’t anticipate this and build in a means to accelerate time is beyond me, while you may only make this mistake once it was extremely annoying.


On the action RPG side unfortunately things don’t ultimately fare much better, with the combat ending up pretty middle-of-the-road at best. As you progress and set up the appropriate classrooms and mentors in your school you’ll be able to hone the skills of your students more effectively to stitch together parties of specialists who are more interesting and powerful but the combat itself for the most part is unrewarding and a bit dull truth be told. It can be fun for a while but it never really ramps up to truly get interesting enough to set itself apart from other titles in the space.


In the end Hero School Story ends up being a jack of 2 trades but master of neither. If one element or the other was stronger the state of the lesser of the two would probably have not been as big a deal. Unfortunately, I can’t see any aspect of the game being deep or satisfying enough to provide sustained excitement to real fans of either style of gaming. While I don’t doubt people will be able to make the most of what’s here to eke out some hours of enjoyment this feels like a title that could have been far better with a bit more fleshing out.

Score: 5.5

Pros:
  • Reasonably attractive art style
  • The action and management aspects are approachable, mostly due to their simplicity

Cons:
  • Combat ultimately lacks in excitement, variety, and depth
  • The building management aspect of things is too constrained and limited, making it pretty disappointing
  • As a whole the experience feels very generic