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SummaryThe spiritual successor to Quest for Glory.
The GoodNote: I will abbreviate Quest for Glory as QFG and Heroine's Quest as HQ. Also note that when I wrote this review I had only played the game with the warrior so my impressions will be based solely on that class.
Just like the the QFG-series Heroine's Quest packs plenty of humor. A good deal of the comedic value are handed to you by some very funny NPC such as Thriwaldi the troll or Ratatosk the doom-squirrel but most of it is to be found in the witty textual descriptions, especially if you try silly commands such as talking to fireplaces or pushing bridges. Most of the time the humor is quite gentle but it can get downright silly sometimes and breaks the fourth wall on more than one occasion. Despite this HQ has a more serious tone overall than the QFG-series. People struggle with hardships such as poverty, illness and mourning of loved ones and a certain air of grimness always looms over Jarnvidir and it's inhabitants because of the coming of the Fimbulwinter (though not to the same extent as in QFG: Shadows of Darkness). The story is also better and more involving than most of the the QFG-games. It isn't really so much the main plot-line (which essentially is just ”kill big fozzle”) that is interesting as is watching your character gradually evolve from an unknown and green adventurer into a famed and widely respected heroine. But what really lifts the story is that the developers takes the background-material for HQ more seriously than most of the QFG-games, you definitely get the impression that they have gone to great lengths to make the Norse mythology setting an integral part for both story and game-play. Not only will you have to face numerous enemies taken straight from Norse Mythology such as frost-giants and lindworms, you will also have to endure and gradually build up your resistance to the biting cold of the Fimbulwinter which will slowly seep your stamina and you will even need to travel to the realm of Svartalfheim at one point.
The RPG-mechanics are very similar to QFG with skills you increase simply by practice. However, HQ introduces some new class-specific skills such as Animal-Keen for the Warrior and Herbalism for the Sorceress which makes each of the classes more distinct than those in QFG. Also, the game notifies you every time a skill goes up so you don't have to access the character-sheet constantly. The combat-system is also considerably improved. This never was a strong point of the QFG-franchsie and there were none of it's various systems I wholeheartedly liked even if they were serviceable. But they all literally pale in comparison to the combat system used in HQ. It most resembles the system used in QFG 2 but is a lot more deeper and varied. Three basic attacks and three evasive maneuvers (warriors can also block and parry) and a small weapon-selection gives a lot more room for strategy than QFG. There is also a much wider variety of enemies and half of the challenge lies in figuring out the optimal weapon and attack to use against each enemy. Combat stayed fun to the very end even though by then I could dispatch trolls with a single blow. Another nice touch is that NPC actually live their own lives, wandering around and outside of town during the day and frolicking in the local tavern at night. It's a nice touch of realism and quite a stark contrast to the QFG-games where all characters did was basically to stay in their shops all day and vanish without a trace during the day.
The adventure-portions of the game are equally good. Characters are distinct and memorable and dialogue is well-written with top-notch voice-acting. Puzzles are also very good, not to hard or easy and with alternative solutions to many of them. And the old-school graphics are excellent as is the music.
The BadAt one point in the game, there is a certain item you can pick up that will soon turn out to be affected with a very nasty curse. While it is hinted that picking up this item is a bad idea it's very easy to ignore this warning especially if you play as a rogue. It seems impossible at first to get rid of this item and not even restoring to an earlier save helps. That's right, once you have picked up the cursed item, it will remain in your inventory even if you restore your game to a point far before you even laid eyes upon it! Naturally, there is actually a way to get rid of it but it is far from obvious and by the time you have figured it out (or resorted to a walkthrough in despair as I did) you will probably have suffered through a lot of agony. I personally did not find this ordeal the least bit of fun, I actually felt like I had been subjugated to a cruel prank by the developers. Another, much less severe gripe I had was with the in-game notepad. While I appreciated this commodity I felt that it wasn't overly useful, there is only one page available and it is very cumbersome to edit.
Other than the above nitpicks I really can't think of any concrete flaws, maybe one or two puzzles are a little to obscure but what adventure-game can claim to have perfect puzzles all way through?