Do you live for the grind or do you grind to live? Class of Heroes II is finally upon us after a somewhat tumultuous history that started with a failed Kickstarter and ended up with a successful preorder campaign, Gaijinworks and MonkeyPaw Games have been able to persevere and finally release the title both physically and digitally to eager fans. I spent the last week playing the title, and I would like to talk about the experience that I had along with some tips for those jumping into the game for the first time.
First things first - I am not good at video games. If you have seen any of my marathon sessions, you would know this already. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the dungeon crawler, a category that demands far more than the norm. The good news is, after spending a good chunk last year playing the indie title Legend of Grimrock I feel like I have come to understand just what one needs to do to approach the genre with the right frame of mind. I can't just rush into the field anticipating whatever life throws at me. I am no reckless adventurer - NO SIR! Moves need to be planned, maps need to be fully explored for their secrets, and the use of caution must be at the utmost.
The game offers a group of party members you can select off the bat. This is a bad idea. Instead, what you would want to do is head into the Office and select Enroll. Every time you enter this screen to create a character, a dice roll is used to decide the number of bonus points that players can use at their disposal and dump into their different stats. It only took me about a minute or so to roll high counts of bonus points for each of my party members, and it definitely made things a lot easier at least in the early moments of the game.
When creating your character, you get to enter a Name, and then choose from Sex, Alignment, and Class. There are eight different races to choose, ranging from the usual Human, Elf, and Gnome, to series-specific ones such as Bahamun, Khulaz, and Celestian. As you can assume, each has their own aptitude that allows them to excel with certain classes. As the game goes on, players will be able to unlock more classes to become much more effective in battle with all the perks that they bring.
Another factor that comes into play is Affinity. This is affected not only by the races and alignment when first creating or assembling a party, but also performance in the game. Keeping the Affinity level high allows the party to perform at their very best and keeps individual stats elevated, while the opposite is true if that percentage is kept small. There's even a Compatibility chart found in the manual where putting two different races of people together in the same group can occasionally be dangerous. Apparently, Elves and Dwarves just do not get along at all.
The great appeal found in this game and is what makes dungeon crawlers so fun is when you reach that point in the game where you have cleared that hurdle and you suddenly feel pretty powerful. You are no longer dealing chip damage, your characters aren't dying almost immediately, and you aren't missing every shot. It's this immense satisfaction where everything starts to come together and you feel all that hard work paying off. Class of Heroes II provides that satisfaction in the way that it eases you into the experience when you first enter the battlefield, with each challenge progressively becoming more difficult.
There is still plenty for me to explore about this game and its many , but for what it's worth, I have been having a quality time ever since I learned from my mistakes and figured out the trick that made the game a lot simpler. Class of Heroes II provides that niche appeal that only this genre can really give players. There is no hand-holding whatsoever, and there are many moments in the game where you are pretty much left to your own devices to figure out how to proceed. However, it doesn't get to the point where it becomes frustrating. Providing a much improved game experience over the original (don't get me started), Class of Heroes II is an enjoyable journey for fans of this style and I believe certainly worth your time and money.
Class of Heroes II is available as of today on PSN for a reasonable $25 and is compatible with the Sony PSP and the PS Vita (which is what I used to play the game on). I am looking forward to what Vic Ireland over at Gaijinworks has in store for us in the future. They have already expressed plans to localize Class of Heroes III and Class of Heroes Final, but personally, I'm happy to see this game finally see the light of day. Now, how about getting those Lunar games onto PSN, guys?
Versions tested: PSP