Heroland is to RPGs what watching football on TV is to playing football. It’s a far more hands-off experience than you’re probably hoping for, and it’s nowhere near as entertaining as doing the thing that you’re meant to be doing, which in this case is dungeon crawling.
Heroland is set in an eponymous theme park, one where people can go along and live their dreams of being a sword-wielding hero or a mage with complete control over the elements. Honestly, it’s not a bad idea for a theme park or a game.
In reality, it seems a lot more fun for the people you’re guiding than the character you play as. You see, you take the role of a new staff member, one who has taken up the job of a guide. As a guide, you need to get groups of heroes through the theme park’s dungeons and steer them to victory as well as dish out the prizes they win when they succeed. It’s a bit like managing a team of people, but less hands-on, and this is already a reasonably hands-off experience. What I’m saying is, there’s not all that much gameplay to be found here.
Heroland feels a lot like an idle game, but one in which you have to pay some attention sometimes or your party gets wiped. As the guide, you can influence battles by giving general strategy commands like defend or all-out attack, and you can sling items about the place too. That’s about it though; for the most part, your team of heroes will do what they want. Perhaps more importantly, they’ll usually succeed when left to their own devices as well.
The lack of your involvement is rarely a cause of failure, which basically means you can start a battle and then go and feed the cats, or the baby, or yourself. It gets a little more intense as the game progresses, but it’s still a lot like watching your friend play a game that looks good. Sure, it’s fun to watch, but you lose all of the complexity and nuance by only ever half paying attention.
It’s a shame that the actual game is so lacklustre, because it looks fantastic. The pixel art models are incredibly pretty, and there’s something charming about their lack of movement for the most part. Watching the models hop around instead of walking is great, and the battles and battle animations are full of all sorts of good things, like hammer swings, magic spells, and cheesecake. None of that makes the game worth playing though.