Who hasn’t wanted to be the principal of an esteemed academy and also go out on adventures to slay monsters? Well now is your chance to live out that lifelong fantasy. Set in a world filled with monsters and magic, you are the new Principal of the Valthirian Academy.
Your job is to bring up fledgling adventurers and turn them into something far greater, aiding the country as you do so. Here there is a delicate balance between five different queendoms, all of whom hope to take the main throne to replace the recently deceased ruler of the lands. This means choosing your missions carefully and trying to make sure everyone is happy at all times, which is a tricky task to say the least. Of course, you can always pick the one you think deserves to be next in line and shape the future of the country.
The game itself is split between two different styles of gameplay. The first revolves around the management of the academy itself. Here you have a birds eye view of things as you sort out the affairs of your up-and-coming academy. Your aim is to build up your reputation in order to attract more students and have access to better facilities. You have a long list of tasks to accomplish, many of which unlock further tasks as you go through them; this is as close to a guide as you have, so make the most of it.
You can construct new buildings, all of which have different bonuses to consider, as well as unlocking new pathways for your students. You can also manage your students from here, choosing their skills as they level up, giving them new equipment, forging them new equipment, promoting them to a new class of hero, and even graduating them. Graduation means the student won’t be much use to you personally anymore, but you will get a nice boost of gold and reputation when the ceremony is held.
You don’t get much of a choice when placing things, simply choosing from different plots depending on what you are building. It is deep enough to require a little bit of effort to figure out, but not so deep that it is intimidating. The biggest issue on this side of the game is the inability to skip forwards in time; if you send your only party on an errand they will be gone for rather large amount of time, simply sitting around waiting for them is incredibly dull. Make sure you have more than four students if you decide to do this, as you can then use the remaining ones to grind out an arena to help time pass faster.
The second main facet of your time in this world will be spent in the little dungeons. Your aims here can be anything from picking up gold coins, culling a certain type of monster, or finding ancient relics. Each one means you will be cutting your way through increasingly strong monsters and eventually finding an exit. The combat is simple but fun, most of the complexity comes later on when you are properly customising your party. At that point you have a lot of say over what weapons to use and the composition to take along with you.
One small issue that plagues some of the larger dungeons is the camera. While you generally play in a fairly zoomed out fashion, if you hit the edge of the arena, sometimes the game just doesn’t follow your party. It leads to the occasional fight where you are almost out of sight. Other than that it is a lot of fun, nothing too complex again, but an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story is one of those strange games that can easily consume hours of your time in one sitting. The strange mix of management and adventure makes for a fun distraction. The graphics are cute, the music is good, and the characters are charming if a little odd. If you want something fun to dip in and out of instead of a monumental task, then this may well be what you are looking for.
Version tested: Switch
Also available for PS4 & PC