Video Game Review – Hero of Many

Hero of Many is a casual adventure game where players control a light orb. Alone the orb is helpless, but it has the power to rally and lead light fish against the shadow fish taking over their home. Players follow the story of the orb and its fish school through multiple worlds while solving puzzles, defeating monsters, gaining new powers, saving light fish, and engaging in swarm vs swarm combat.

Release Date: September 15th, 2014
Developer: Trickster Arts
Publisher: Trickster Arts
Format: PC Game
First playthrough time: 6 hours

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Direct light fish to protect the orb and defeat shadow fish swarms

Major Pros:

  • Emotional wordless story
  • Beautiful environments
  • Effective setups for teaching new mechanics

Minor Pros:

  • Relaxing music and effective sound effects
  • Simple enjoyable gameplay
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Travel across environments and meet new characters

Major Cons:

  • Easy to get trapped and helplessly die in some of the boss fights

Minor Cons:

  • Cutscenes can’t be skipped
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Light up beautiful environments

At the start of Hero of Many, a light orb and its school of light fish are seen being attacked and scattered by shadow fish. Players take control of the light orb and learn the first mechanics of avoiding and hiding from the shadow fish while seeking to reunite with a light fish I shall affectionately call “Scrimpy Tail”. Scrimpy Tail accompanies the player through large portions of their journey to gather the light fish and repel the shadow fish. Other than appearance and story relevance, Scrimpy Tail doesn’t have any special skills, but the player as the light orb will acquire new abilities throughout the story. The story is wordless, but effective and emotional. The player travels through multiple worlds, meeting new distinct characters and combining forces to learn about the shadow fish and how to defeat them.

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Scrimpy Tail and the light orb find themselves in peril

I found the artstyle of Hero of Many very eye catching and the soundtrack very relaxing. This was combined with simple gameplay for an overall pleasant experience. For much of the game, the player only requires a mouse to move around the orb and make their school of fish lunge in a direction. Most puzzles are simple and require moving rocks with the orb or navigating maze-like tunnels with moving and stationary hazards. Lanterns in the walls light up when passed, to help prevent the player from back tracking. Players are rewarded for exploring with additional health and light fish. The music indicates the select sections where the player needs to hurry and I enjoyed the variety of the soundtrack throughout the game. I also really liked the sounds the shadow fish made to let the player know when they were around. It’s a combination of clicking, cawing, and screeching like one might expect from a small dinosaur in a movie. I felt it carried the appropriate amount of creepiness and hostility.

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Solve puzzles and traverse mazes

Hero of Many also did a great job of teaching the player new mechanics. Nearly all new mechanics are first shown to the player by having an NPC perform the action on a similar object and then letting the player mimic it in a safe environment. I felt this was done very effectively and consistently and kept with the wordlessness of the game. From there the game was able to indicate where to repeat actions using consistently highlighted objects so the player could build up to more complex puzzle solving. None of the puzzles were difficult, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. To continue with the no UI and no words aspect, the player’s health is indicated with the strength of their glow instead of a number on screen and cooldowns for later abilities are indicated with different bell chimes. I found this to be much more immersive than a typical UI approach.

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Low glow means low health!

The one problem I had with Hero of Many was that dying repeatedly in certain sections seemed hard to avoid. For most of the game I felt very little threat of dying (mostly of losing light fish), but in several boss fights or speed sections, the game started the player after the cutscene in a location that was not very blind-play friendly, or the camera wouldn’t show the player enough of what was ahead of them to not get trapped against a wall. While some of these deaths may have been there as a reminder of how helpless the light orb is without the light fish or to make the bosses seem scarier, I didn’t find it to be much of an intimidation factor to have to be holding a direction as soon as a cutscene ended or I instantly died. Nor was it very immersive to memorize turns in a chase scene that storywise should be unknown territory. Furthermore most tasks of this nature started with a cutscene and all cutscenes in the game are unskippable, so restarting wasn’t fast. There weren’t too many cases like this, but they were noticeable and frustrating when encountered.

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I died a lot in this chase scene by guessing at where to turn

Overall I found Hero of Many to be a casual adventure game with a great story and good music and aesthetics. The controls and puzzles were simple and although I had a few issues with restarting on some of the speed areas and boss fights, I found the rest of the game easy and smooth. I would recommend Hero of Many to players drawn in by the atmosphere and looking for relaxing gameplay and a wordless story.

Find this game at the publisher’s website or on Steam.