Ahhhh, grid-based tactical RPGs. Gotta love them, but does this one cut it? Hero Lodge is a party-based turn-based strategy game with a fantasy theme and 2.5D sprites. The game is broken up into chapters with a list of missions for that storyline. Levels will allow a party of around four to six units depending on the mission type, giving you a chance later on to customize your team for a little bit of replay value. Combat is reminiscent of XCOM, but with a twist on leveraging movement and actions. Instead, each character has their own pool of action points, their basic attack uses three, skills use varying amounts, and movement costs one a pop. So it becomes a game of lining up your units to get back attacks, figuring out when to attack or when to block, and making sure you move fast enough for enemies not to call in reinforcements.
There’s also a robust damage type system that allows for a lot of combos and optimization. Every character has their own class and set of abilities, so it’s really fun to mix and match teams to try them all out. Presentation may be the weakest point of Hero Lodge, as the art style may not appeal to everyone. However, for a person who sees indie turn-based tactics games like these so often, this one really stands out in terms of its mechanics and elegance.
This one’s gonna be a bit shorter than usual, but that’s mainly because Hero Lodge really cuts the fat. You are just so engrossed into the combat and constantly in the fray with new challenges and objectives being thrown furiously at you. Story elements sparsely break up the fights, but outside of brief team customization, there’s not much else to discuss. As I alluded to earlier, your tavern is slowly populated with more patrons and perks to come with them. You will primarily chose your party members, level them up, and manage gear across your characters. There aren’t class changes or anything like that, so it’s fortunate that each character really brings something new to the table, and I found myself liking the utility across all their kits.
Difficulty can be a bit spiky at times, where I found myself primarily frustrated when I invested a good amount of time into a level only to get blindsided by an encounter right at the end having to start from scratch. On the flip side, it makes moving your team expediently while managing their health/resources that much more precious and crunchy. Animations can be a bit jerky and weird at times, but for the most part serve their purpose, some attacks look pretty great too. I would honestly be hard-pressed not to call this substance far exceeding style.
That’s really about it, I think this is a pretty solid recommend for strategy RPG fans. Although I will say it leans more into the puzzle side because there’s really not much of a grind unless you want to replay missions. For the uninitiated, the game does a pretty good job at breaking down its systems, but it may be a tougher sell because the game does look a little janky at first glance. But maaan, it’s mostly worth it just to unlock more of the tactics goodness and just seeing how far the rabbit hole goes.
A review copy was provided by the devs.
Hellfirebam has awarded Hero Lodge the Indie Gamer Seal of Approval.