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Heroland PS4 review

*Editor's note, The Geek Getaway received a review copy of Heroland on PS4

Do you know about Heroland?
Heroland was developed by FuRyu and published by XSEED/Marvelous. It is available for digital purchase on the PS4Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam. The game is $39.99 across all platforms. A $49.99 Day 1 Knowble Edition is still available via the XSEED Store. The Knowble Edition comes with a physical copy of the game, a 10.5” x 6” drawstring pouch, a musical selections CD, a 14” x 20” theme park-style folded map, and a sumo wrestling Papercraft.

As noted in out preview of Heroland, the game was developed by some of the talented people behind several beloved JRPG classics. Director Takahiro Yamane is known for Fantasy Life. The writer, Nobuyuki Inoue, and lead artist, Nobuhiro Imagawa, were among the many talents who worked on MOTHER 3 and Legend of Mana. Tsukasa Masuko, the composer of Shin Megami Tensei, lent his talents to Heroland and created the music in the game. With such an all star team, Heroland brought everything needed to create an awesome JRPG experience but sadly this game doesn't live up to the hype.
Heroland features a single save slot
Welcome to Heroland!
The story of Heroland, the best part of the game in my opinion, tells the dual tales of Lucky and 18. Your character, working man Lucky, comes to Heroland to work as a tour guide. Meanwhile, 18 journeys to Heroland with his retainer Oak in order to slay the nefarious Dark Lord. Unfortunately for 18, Heroland is simply an amusement park and not the home of any actual monsters. This is even more unfortunate for Lucky as he is stuck as 18's personal tour guide. Early on Lucky and the Heroland staff figure out that 18 believes Heroland to be the home of an actual Dark Lord and they set out to trick 18 into believing he slew the Dark Lord so he can go back to Knowble and leave Lucky alone.

That basic setup slowly begins to go off the rails as Lucky guides 18 deeper into the bowels of Heroland. Soon it becomes clear to Lucky and his friends, tourists you met along the way, that not everything in Heroland is as it seems. Mixed in with this narrative of a group of adventurers finding more than they bargained for in an amusement park is the story of an oppressed and taken advantage of working class. Yes, this JRPG about an amusement park designed to give guest the chance to live out their hero fantasies also includes a narrative that parallels many of Bernie Sanders' talking points. The political talking points are not so heavy handed as to become a distraction and many of its finer points would be lost on younger gamers. I won't spoil anything but the story is very well written and will be the main reason you keep playing the game.
You can name him but he will be referred to as Lucky by everyone in the game
Take a look around the park...
The art in Heroland is a really creative use of 3D models made to appear to be 2D against an animated background. It is very reminiscent of Paper Mario but with a lot more heft to the movements. Older gamers, like myself, might get a strong Gumby vibe from the sprites in Heroland. Especially when they bend and twist during actions and attacks. Enemies are all whimsical and fit nicely with the aesthetic of the game world. You could actually see some of the enemies in a real life version of Heroland should such a thing exist.

The music in Heroland fits nicely with the game's setting but that is to its detriment at times. There are no really memorable tunes nor do you get really exciting action music during fights. Everything is just sort of laid back, unless the battles are running at 3X speed. The sound effects are spot on and never get annoying to listen to as select various things in the game.
Playing the battles on anything but 3X speed becomes a slog
Watch your step on the attractions!
The battles in Heroland are by far the worst part of the game. All four members of your team act independently of you unless you have Lucky's direct them to do certain actions. This wouldn't be so bad if Lucky had unlimited actions instead of the cool down timer present in the game. Instead of directing team members to use certain skills or getting your team pile on to a specific enemy, you will spend most of your time either watching the action or tossing out a potion. This wouldn't be so bad if your team was able to adapt as the battle proceeds instead of picking an action and doing it come hell or high water. Early on this isn't much of an issue but as you start to face tougher and tougher enemies you will really wish you had more control over your team members.

The weapons used by your team members to smack around Heroland employees acting as enemies have a set amount of durability. As team members use weapon skills their equipped weapon will tick down until it breaks. This can be mitigated in several ways so it shouldn't ever be a real issue unless you actively try to break your weapons. New weapons can be forged at the blacksmith, provided you found the replica weapon in a dungeon beforehand. 
Free tours can be repeated ad nauseam but Chapter tours advance the day and story
Don't forget a souvenir.
Your team members all gain experience after a tour so those not in your active party won't fall too far behind should you not use them for a while. Lucky himself levels up by delivering good tour experiences to the guests. Tour experiences can be improved by coaching a specific party member to do a skill, give a found plushie or item to a team member, or if that team member delivers the killing blow to an enemy. Unless you are really bad at this game, which is actually hard to do, you will almost always end a tour with happy guests.

On tours defeated enemies may drop plushie versions of themselves or pieces of furniture. These can be given to guests to improve their tour experience, as previously stated, or kept and used to decorate Lucky's room. There are PSN trophies attached to collecting every plushie and piece of furniture so if you care about those then you should keep every new one you come across. Beyond trying to get a trophy there is little reason to not hand over the spoils of war. Lucky and the team gets no bonuses from decorating Lucky's room and there isn't enough space to do something cool enough to bother sharing with friends, which is what the feature is probably intended for.
So much to see so little to do!
Final Verdict: Not Recommended
The story in Heroland is pretty compelling and will have you wanting to clear chapter tour after chapter tour to advance the plot. The battles however will have you fighting against the urge to throw in the towel and quit. While playing the PS4 version of Heroland I got the overwhelming sense that the game was created with the Nintendo Switch's portable mode in mind. I mean, the battles play themselves and require little of your attention, which is perfect for a subway or bus ride. The aesthetic is very family friendly and would appeal more to the casual Switch audience than the hardcore PS4 gamer. Heroland is a great place to visit but I wouldn't want to be stuck working there!

*All images are owned by their respective copyright holders and are used under fair use guidelines