Ratalaika is starting off 2019 like they spent most of 2018 – still actively supporting the Playstation Vita. Heroes Trials is now available for Sony’s handheld as part of a cross-buy purchase that also nets you the PS4 version of the game. While we didn’t play the game on the big screen, here are our thoughts on the Vita version.
Although it wasn’t especially well received, I had fun with 2011’s Dungeon Hunter: Alliance for the Vita. As one of the few Diablo-inspired action RPGs on the Vita, I thought it was a more than competent port despite a few shortcomings. It’s 2019 now, and the Vita hasn’t sees a lot of other candidates in the genres pop up since then – the conversion of The Bard’s Tale comes to mind, and with a stretch of the imagination perhaps also the Ys titles. That’s why I was looking forward to Heroes Trials, which looked like a new (though very scaled down) take on the genre.
Heroes Trials wastes no time introducing its setup – you play through the (underdeveloped) story as Zoel and Elia, two students who are hoping to ascend to hero status through a series of trials. They’ve overslept, so it’s time to rush to the first trial. Narratively, things don’t really change much from there, as the game is essentially a series of (linear) trials you have to work your way through. Story-wise, the trials ARE the story, so there isn’t much in terms of meaningful conversations or plot twists. There are ten trials to overcome, with boss battles at the end of them to mix up things a bit.
Gameplay is fairly straightforward and of the button-mashing hack ‘n slash variety. Most trials involve getting from A to B in a set amount of time with a ton of bad guys standing in your way, and most can be dispatched with one or two presses of the attack button. You also have the ability to switch between Zoel and Elia, which changes up the gameplay and control mechanism in that one is more geared towards melee and the other prefers ranged attacks. You also have a shield ability, which you’ll rarely see outside of boss scenarios.
Combat isn’t exactly deep, and as a rule of thumb you can just rely on melee for most of the trials and perhaps switch to ranged when you encounter a boss character where you want to keep some distance. You’ll likely lose health during these encounters, but whacking away at the local vegetation is a surefire way to finding some food and replenishing it very quickly.
There are hidden treasures to find and you can go off the beaten path to explore, but the time limit on each trial makes sure that you can’t ever stray or delay too far. Since most trials revolve around the same dynamics (with boss battles offering short diversions), this makes for a somewhat repetitive experience where a so-so storyline does little to engage you. Luckily, the experience doesn’t drag on for too long, as the trials can be completed in about two hours and you’ll likely clear all of the game’s trophy objectives well before then. The latter’s become a bit of a Ratalaika staple, making this another interesting title for trophy hunters.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make Heroes Trials a very good or memorable game. It looks passable at best on the Vita with a perspective that feels a little too zoomed in (although the mini-map helps). Combined with the lackluster story and mostly generic gameplay, it’s tough to recommend Heroes Trials as anything more than a little mindless diversion for fans of the genre – at least it has a price tag to match. If you haven’t played Dungeon Hunter and prefer a more traditional action RPG experience, then try to seek out that game for the Vita before starting Heroes Trials.