OPINION | GAME ON: ‘Hero’s Hour’ easy time-killer with old-style music, retro pixel art

"Hero's Hour" is a fantasy kingdom strategy video game. (Goblinz Studio)
"Hero's Hour" is a fantasy kingdom strategy video game. (Goblinz Studio)


Were you a fan of the "Heroes of Might & Magic" series from about two decades ago? Do you dig retro-style pixel art and catchy music that would sound right at home on the Super Nintendo? If so, "Hero's Hour" might be the game for you.

For the unfamiliar, in "Hero's Hour," players will control a hero that recruits armies while moving around a map, capturing resources and engaging in combat.

Players also begin with control of a town, and each turn is represented as a single day. Towns generate gold, the basic resource, as well as recruitable armies; and each day a new building can be added that increases the gold-making abilities.

The chosen hero and its army can move around during that day, taking control of resource nodes, finding equipment or battling enemies. The basic game-play cycle is to build an army, nurture your town and steamroll the opposition through overwhelming might.

When it comes to battles, "Hero's Hour" becomes more of an auto-battler, which is a major departure from the "Heroes of Might & Magic" franchise, which uses turn-based battles. You can position units on a map, and then they fight the enemy automatically. Players can cast spells and influence the battle to a fair extent but cannot directly control either units or the hero during the fight.

Battles earn the hero experience points, which levels the hero up, allowing it to choose from a skill tree and grow stronger. Every faction has a unique mechanic, with its own strengths and weaknesses, and each hero has a special skill, along with a selection from about 50 common skills.

However someone wants to play, that option is available. In my initial play-through, my main hero was a wizard who had a large mana pool and could cast many spells to buff allies and hurt the enemy. I also focused on a skill that increased the size of the army I could take into battle. (Overall there are close to 100 spells available.) Being spell-focused, I could heal my units or protect them from ranged attacks, conjure more units to appear directly behind the enemy, and so on.


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In a later play-through with a different hero, I focused on an Oligarchy skill, which gave a huge bonus to the attack power and the health of creatures but made me able to take fewer into battle — so that hero instead led smaller armies filled with elite, heavy-hitting units.

After a player's turn ends, the computer armies get their turn. They're just like the player — each of them controls a town and hero and will battle the player and each other. The goal is generally the same — capture all towns on the map.

Capturing another town then adds that town (and its income and armies) to the player, vastly increasing strength. Additional heroes can also be recruited, and so by the later stages of the game, it's common to be controlling multiple armies and cities, working to attack other factions and defend your own.

There are a ton of map choices in "Hero's Hour," from tiny, two-player maps to sprawling continents with six players and multiple neutral factions, with various customizable difficulty settings. There are enough randomization and style choices that no two games will be the same.

The decision to use an auto-battler to resolve fights rather than using turn-based tactics is an interesting one, but I think it's fine. It speeds up games dramatically, allowing them to be completed in an hour or two. It's always an issue with the more drawn-out tactical games that many runs have to be abandoned partway through as it can take days or longer to finish.

It should also be noted that "Hero's Hour" has full multiplayer support, for both player versus player and for cooperation, which can take the tactics and fun to a whole new level when playing with friends and frenemies.

Overall, "Hero's Hour" is perfectly adept at what it sets out to do. There's active developer support, which has been ongoing even after it was released March 1. Sort of like the recently reviewed "Vampire Survivors," it's a great game to pick up, kill an hour or two and put back down again.


‘Hero’s Hour’

Platform: Windows (Steam, GOG, itch.io)

Cost: $17.99

Rating: 10+ for mild violence

Score: 7 out of 10



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