Initial release date: March 11, 2022
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Genre: Adventure game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
"Review Copy Provided By NIS America"
When I first saw the initial screenshots and trailer for The Cruel King and the Great Hero, I initially thought it was a sequel to the 2019 title The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince which was a unique title to come from Nippon Ichi. Little did I know that this was not the case and is instead its very own unique title with tons of charm and a surprisingly refreshing traditional turn-based RPG gameplay.
The plot of the game centers around a young girl named Yuu who has dreams of becoming a great hero like her papa who was known for taking down the Demon King. Along with her is her dad, a fearsome Dragon King that guides and trains her so that she may fulfill her dreams. The Dragon King tells Yuu the tales of her papa which over the course of time reveal slowly the Dragon King’s own past. Yuu will go on to forge tales of her own based on her adventures and will help the monsters of Monster village and solve the various conflicts between humans and monsters and more. It’s a story that touches on the heart. The story is told through narration like a storybook, and it helps to keep the feel of this story flow well.
When it comes to the gameplay, it’s pretty much your standard turn-based JRPG with you roaming about until you enter a random battle with you being able to select between a standard attack, special attack, guard, item, or choose to escape. Each of the characters has stamina points that act as health with energy points that are utilized when you use special attacks. The game isn’t particularly difficult for the first half of the game given that Yuu is evenly or often times more than a match for every battle she enters, so you won’t need to utilize much in the way of strategy to get through at least the first half of the game including the first few boss battles. The battles will open up a bit more as the game progresses with you having access to some powerful attacks and the eventual gaining of companions which lead to you being able to use more strategy as you go forth.
A potential point of contention could be the fact that the encounter rate is fairly high with you walking just a few steps and then being thrust into a battle which over time can feel tedious especially when you just want to go out and explore. There are side quests which do a good job of worldbuilding and adding many layers to the overall story.
When it comes to the visuals of the game, they are truly spectacular as they very well animated and detailed and add to that storybook whimsical flair. Menus along with text boxes all have a page turning sound effect which is charming, and the battle theme is catchy although there are not many tracks in the game overall but what is there is really solid.
All in all, The Cruel King and The Great Hero is an incredibly charming and heartfelt story that has a ton of depth to it hidden behind it’s simplistic visual style. The story presentation, narration, audio, gameplay, and themes are all done in such a way that it brings this world fully to life. The encounter rate is a bit too high and can bring the overall experience down to a crawl as you are constantly thrust into battles, however, given that this isn’t a particularly long game means it wont take long to get to the end. This is definitely a game you’ll want to pick up if you’re in the mood for a charming and heartfelt experience with a solid battle system.