We have all played through our classic RPG’s . Find the Three Crystals of the elements than you can access the castle to defeat the final evil. We have all been that hero and we loved it. Yet how did that world come together? Why is the crystal there? What happens to a magic world after the main character gets a game over? Questions like these are answered in the game Underhero.
Underhero is an RPG that mimics the gameplay of the old Paper Mario RPG’s. To a certain extent. It was gifted to me by a multifaceted ocelot, which is a close friend of mine. So keep in mind that I did not spend $15,- dollars on it. Which may make me a bit more positive as I REALLY got my money’s worth. Is it worth 15 dollars? I’d say yes.. probably. This game can start out a bit rough, especially when you do not have an Xbox controller to hook up o your laptop like me. Still perseverance pays off , after having finished this game, up to a point where I only missed on a few achievements simply for not wanting to backtrack for stat upgrades I no longer needed. I did most what this game had to offer and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I guess one facet of that ocelot is giving me good games.
In Underhero you take on the role of a noble hero who is ready for the boss fight against the evil boss Mr Stitches. I figured he would whoop my ass and I would have to level.. much like what happened in the first Paper Mario. Yet two steps in and you die. A Masked Kid.. which is something like a Koopa or Goomba compared ot the mario universe..thinks outside the box and drops a chandelier on the hero. Now that the hero is dead your Boss Mr Stitches thinks he can finally conquer the kingdom of man.. so he sets the captured princess free as he doesnt need her anymore and assigns the masked kid.. which is now you.. to return the three magical stones that the hero needs back to their original bosses. When looting the dead hero though, the kid finds a talking sword hilt named Elisabeth IV who tells the Masked Kid he is now the hero who must defeat the dark and evil lord Stitches. And so begins your reverse quest that shows the logistic side of video games.
In Stitches, laughing out loud.
Underhero is not a serious game, it’s lighthearted and fun and spoofs yet embraces RPG traditions. We never knew but the evil rulers in video games have a complete business set up that deals with how to get certain minions at certain places. We see how the castle houses the evil monsters in tiny apartments, we see they have a cafeteria and even unions. There are work meetings, office party and they even have Taco Tuesdays.. which are very beloved by the employees. If monsters are born with a different colour they either get send to another area or become a Miniboss. This castle functions as your main hub from which you begin your adventure to return the stones for a new hero to come.. but to still defeat the bosses there so you level up.. that’s what really matters anyway. Elizabeth IV the talking hilt functions as your Navi you can even talk to her by pressing a button…but she gets very annoyed if you do this a lot.
Elizabeth gets annoyed a lot because she has been through this a lot of times already. Each time you have to find a key she is annoyed, especially when things turn out to be more complicated as you originally thought. Like when you enter a dungeon and can take an elevator to the boss floor.. but a fuse is blown, the fuse lays behind a door which of course is locked.. and the key gets hidden behind a racing event. The little hilt is annoyed how this always keeps happening to her and constantly berates any unoriginal events that happen in the game. As Masked Kid you are unsure where your loyalties lie.. Will you follow Elizabeth or your widely beloved boss Mr Stitches. Not long after the first dungeon, Mr Stitches has become aware that the game is lasting longer than originally.. he now can actually start to siege the hero town hub.. but well since they never go on this long.. there is no more money. Budget cuts have to be made…. Taco Tuesday gets cancelled. Now that you realise how evil Mr Stitches truly is.. he really must be stopped or this cycle will continue forever. I truly enjoyed the corporate humor, this game offers and was oftenly laughing out loud. It’s silly but it really works.
Not very Heroic
Not playing a heroic character comes with a few advantages. A fair few enemies are skippable because they do not think you are a threat.. after all you are a minion as well. If you want something from them you can always reason with them. Even when engaging combat you can small talk with them before you hit them. They will tell you rumors about treasures or maybe some lore.. which you may need later on. Enemies , except for smart enough sub-bosses will never attack you first.. you as the hero need to defeat them but they don’t know you are a hero. You might be a hero but your still you , you still served evil.. so if you do not feel like smacking your coworkers down or if you are running low on health and do not wish to start a fight you can always try to bribe your opponents. Just toss a few coins at them and they will usually let you go… this is just a job to them after all. Since Elizabeth is just a hilt she can take on the form of several weapons. Her main form is a sword, for quick clashing action, a hammer for big damage or a slingshot to hit enemies that are far away.
Masked Kid is no slouch himself…. he can jump to avoid attacks or duck to avoid attacks. Outside combat he can climb vines and hover using his cape.. he is also pretty good at figure skating. Yes our little guy is an ice dancer. That’s……..
The game balances, sort of turn based, battles with puzzle platforming and exploring. With just a hint of adventure gameplay. A combination that works out reasonably well. When controlling Masked Kid with a keyboard you will definitely notice you are dealing with an indie developer. Paper Castle Games made a very good game but in terms of control and subsequent gameplay I had a few gripes. Jumping feels very floaty and when platforms are on multiple levels you can always walk through platforms even if the ledge you are standing on seems to have a solid edge. Key mapping to using potions on <- arrow made me waste a few potions, and the level up system is kind of off. Each level I could choose between three stat boosts, health, stamina and damage. Health upgrades are completely useless as they are found in abundance, stamina recovery you get trough dodging a lot which means you do not have to take a lot of them. As a result the game has this “unpolished” feeling throughout. It’s nothing that you can not overcome but since this game mimics Paper Mario so much you will notice this sure ain’t no italian plumber game.
Saving the world
I finished this game in about twelve hours and like I said I only missed some shield upgrades, as I mastered the art of parrying (and thus did not need a high hp shield) and one weapon upgrade stashed in the apartments. The difficulty curve of this game I’d say is pretty perfect for what it is. Each time an enemy defeated me, a hindernis stopped me in my tracks or I died through a setback , I learned to understand those enemies better, discovered how a mechanic worked better and got closer to defeating the game. Except for a certain rival battle , i dd not need more than three attempts maximum to get around anything. Which is perfect for me for a game like this. A funny and lighthearted game like this.. in which coffee works as a full restore and where punching clocks work as save points you should not have to dig to deep for results. It’s not a breeze but not a slog either. The final battle is incredible the whole idea that that final level a hero goes trough is only a certain area of the castle is hilarious to me as well. All in all just a very good but clunky game.
The five worlds you visit in this game are cleverly designed varied, though stereotypical, forest, haunted house, volcano, a sci fi water level, and the evil castle. There is lot of fun to be had in each world. Along with some classic tedium and fetch quests, but that is part of the heroes life. Each world has their own unique little things,mostly show from their clever writing. An Ice Skating Party and House party in the ghost world, A moth with a split personality constantly showing up, a road block of labourers that want more Fedora’s or a Salsa Dancing spanish speaking enemy who is implied to maybe have a romance with the boss. This game is best in it’s flavoring, it’s dialogue , it’s story and its general sense of humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this game, but less for for the gameplay and more so for everything else. It was a unique and charming adventure that can be a true delight if you are well versed in classic game tropes, this game’s world be very charming to you and you can surely enjoy it despite its flaws. If you do not care about story, do not read dialogues and just want a game to beat.. I suggest you look elsewhere. For a game filled with cute enemies there was not enough pink things though.