Herald: An Interactive Period Drama -- A Brilliant Plot-Driven Title
The point-and-click video game was a genre I largely missed as a kid due to them slowly dying our during the mid-90s in favor of more action-oriented titles. In more recent years, the genre has seen a resurgence in the indie scene with such titles as Dropsy, Shardlight, and the recently released Thimbleweed Park. And now, another title is bringing the genre back into the spotlight -- Herald: An Interactive Period Drama.
Herald is a game that blends point and click adventure gameplay with a player-driven narrative like that found in Telltale Games' various series. Developed and published by Wispfire the game is split into a total of four books (episodes), with two currently available. The others will be released later this year.
Herald has an fluid plot where the outcome of events is decided based on the player's choice of action. With interesting, complex characters and tough decisions to be made, this game keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end and leaves you wanting more.
A voyage of betrayal, mystery and distrust
The plot of Herald takes place during an alternate 19th century where the West is united as a colonial superpower known as the Protectorate. You take on the role of Deven Rensburg, the latest recruit on board the Protectorate merchant ship the HLV Herald.
The plot of the game moves between the past and present. In the present, Deven is a prisoner who is being interrogated and must tell the story of his adventures aboard the HLV Herald. It is here where you choose Deven's actions, which ultimately shape the story and the path it takes.
Aboard the ship is an array of complex and interesting characters, each with their own personalities that are unique to them. It is set during a time of inequality and injustice, and you must choose to whether to stand up for the downtrodden or remain silent and do as you are told.
To say anything more about the plot would be entering spoiler territory, and Herald is a game best experienced knowing as little possible about the story and choices you need to make. I can say it is a unique plot that doesn't shy away from touching on subjects that few games would ever dare to.
Taking place aboard a merchant ship on an exhausting long journey, it gives insight into the psychology of that sort of environment and how it can take its toll on members of the crew as their personalities clash. It is a gripping tale, and one that I cannot wait to see conclude once the final two chapters are released.
If you love games similar to Telltale's, you are going to really enjoy this. It keeps you glued to the screen and on the edge of your seat throughout as you await your next tough decision as the story unfolds.
A perfect blend of gameplay and narrative
While Telltale's games focus more on the narrative side of things, Herald has an amazing balance between its story and the point-and-click adventure gameplay. Throughout the game you will have to make your way around the HVL Herald, completing tasks given to you by the crew and officers.
As you explore the ship, you can examine various areas of it -- receiving additional information on antiques, tools and equipment on the ship and so on. There are a few lessons that can be learned along the way. Often you will need to find someone and speak to them or find an object that a specific character needs.
What Herald does right, however, is keeping a balance between the two, where neither one outweighs the other -- resulting in a constant flow between both styles of gameplay. This balance results in a game that will please both those looking for a narrative driven experience and a point-and-click adventure all in one.
A wonderful cast of brilliantly voice-acted characters
As with any game like this, one of the most important aspects of its development is to ensure that the voice acting is well done. Herald certainly pulls out all the stops and provides a cast of characters that are brilliantly voice-acted.
From the calm and understanding captain, to the temperamental Celeb, to the cowardly and lazy character of Robert, every single character is unique. And the voice actors played their roles exceptionally and brought them all to life. Never throughout the entire experience did I question the voice acting or feel that a voice didn't fit in with a personality.
A unique experience that is worth every cent
Herald is a game that practically anyone can sit down, play, and enjoy. With its excellent plot, wonderfully complex characters, great balance of gameplay, talented voice acting, and charming art design, there isn't much to dislike about the game.
If you love games where players' choices affect the plot and you don't mind waiting for the next episodes, then Herald is definitely worth checking out. With the two current episodes that are available, you get three to four hours out of a playthrough for your $9.99. And it is worth every penny.
The only reason I can give for not picking this title up yet is if you prefer to experience a plot in full from start to finish, without waiting for the final episodes. Aside from that, it is an absolute must play.
Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided to the writer for the purpose of this review.