School for Adventure?
Class of Heroes is one of “those” titles. The ones you pick up expecting one thing and end up getting something quite different. While the box promises plenty of lighthearted dungeon-faring and customization, the real feature in this game is grinding – lots of grinding!
The story behind Class of Heroes is this: there is a school where students come to train for a life of adventure. That’s it. No nefarious bad guys, no super-evil plots. There’s just a school, and the students need to graduate. And speaking of students, you don’t just play as a singular character. You start of with several “stock” characters that represent the game’s ten races. You can also create your own characters. The character creation does take awhile (especially if you are trying to fill all 12 of the games’ character slots) but it works a lot better as you can customize beginning stats as well as affinity (good, evil, or neutral) and Major.
The major is particularly important in creating/customizing your character. The major is sort of like the Job system in the Final Fantasy series, allowing you to unlock special attacks and moves. However, you are limited by your race as to what you can learn (A holy Celestian would never be able to master the dark arts of the Diablos race. Fortunately, the game allows you to form parties of six, and since each character is completely customizable, you can really focus on the attacks/abilities that you want.
However, though it is possible to have characters from different races with extremely different abilities, the game actually discourages this type of divergent strategy. If your characters are too different from each other, they won’t work together and there will be conflict within the group. This mechanic is quite annoying, and I didn’t appreciate the extra caveats that the game placed on my strategy.
Still, once you are able to put together a party, you are treated to some fairly simplistic dungeon crawling. One interesting thing to note is that the dungeons all have a first-person perspective, so you’ll have to keep flipping back and forth on the map in order to navigate around the always-changing dungeon landscape.
The gameplay while in the dungeon holds true to form as a Rogue-like, complete with randomly-generated rooms and encounters. The game’s first-person mechanic also works in an interesting way when you are exploring, as you can rarely see obstacles or enemies in front of you. I personally didn’t like not knowing what was ahead or where I was going, but I can see how some players who crave a strong challenge might enjoy this feature.
As far as combat in the dungeon is concerned, this is another area where Class of Heroes maintains the status quo. You’ll be able to attack, defend, and even perform spells with your party, and everything is completely turn-based. The level of the enemies is even random, which will certainly please hardcore fans, but if you prefer your RPGs with a little bit more of a ranked encounter system, than you had better be prepared for the challenge.
Although everything here seems like it is done by the numbers, I couldn’t help but feel that there was a little something missing. The game’s combat felt very bland, and it seemed like the changes to the dungeon-crawling, particularly the first-person perspective, weren’t for the better. Although the game retains all the depth (not to mention difficulty) that one would expect from a Rougue-like, I found myself longing for titles like Shiren the Wanderer and the Izuna series, which metered out the difficulty level with easily accessible maps and known enemy locations. Class of Heroes seems like it is difficult only for difficulty’s sake, which as I mentioned before, might appeal to some, but I just can’t see the general RPG audience getting on board with this approach.
As far as visuals go, Class of Heroes is not that impressive. Dialogue scenes are accompanied by stoic character designs, which never really move except to change facial expression. The dungeons are also very bland, and they seem like a never-ending pattern of singular floor tiles and wall coverings. Even the enemies don’t really movie, and they are represented on screen by more stoic character designs, which gives the game an almost claustrophobic feel. I mean, you are stuck in a featureless dungeon where nothing moves. It sounds kind of scary, right?
The audio here is more of a mixed bag. On the one hand, you have the background music which is nicely varied and engaging. Then, on the other hand, you have the voiceover, which is sparse and terrible. Although I am usually a fan of Japanese voiceovers, this one just doesn’t pull it off. Voiced dialogue is infrequent, and for some reason, any time you brush against a wall in a dungeon, someone in your party will let out a very obnoxious scream. And let me tell you, it gets old fast.
There is certainly a market out there for Class of Heroes. The punishing dungeon-based gameplay and first-person visuals may find a few fans out there. However, I just found the entire experience to be bland overall, and the lack of any type of story or characters with personality made it really hard for me to want to play this game. Unfortunately, I am sure many other RPG enthusiasts will see it this way, and it seems that Class of Heroes may be a study hall worth sleeping through.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.0 Graphics
Stoic dialogue scenes are boring and the overall look of the dungeon is bland. 3.7 Control
Using the D-pad makes sense, and the turn-based action in battle works well with the face buttons. 3.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is good, but Japanese voiceover is surprisingly irritating. 3.3 Play Value
How much you play really depends on how much you like grinding and Rogue-like dungeon-crawling and if you mind the first-person visuals. If you really like that sort of thing, expect 50+ hours of fun. If not, just skip this class. 3.1 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.