WinterBleu’s Heroes Paradox tells the story of Lugh the knight, Robin the ranger, Lael the cleric, and their troupe of fantasy trope friends. Maybe the paradox of the game is its cuteness. The eyeless adorability is cloying. But, like quite a few other cutesy at-a-glance games, a decent challenge hides beneath a brightly colored, twee cartoon skin.
A series of comic book panels introduces their story: A letter arrives summoning them to the Monarch’s castle with promises of gold. The objective, in short, is to progress across the world map from stage to stage. Lugh is a likeable fellow, and quickly gains a group of magical and combat trained companions. Equip them with their own unique skills and gear — that you can see change — if you want to survive. Generally you can select up to four characters to go on a mission, though on some missions character selection is preset.
Characters are controlled by tapping and dragging. Just drag a line from a character to a spot on the ground to move, or to an enemy or companion to begin attacking or healing. After that, basic combat is automatic — all but the character’s special attacks. The attacks are on a timer, and it’s not just about smashing them whenever they’re available.
It’s all about timing. Heroes Paradox is definitely not an android RPG where you can just sit back and let things play out. Depending on the speed setting, making it through a new level could mean hovering tensely over the screen, watching your heroes’ movements and timers for the perfect moment, your butt clenched in anticipation.
That said, as you progress through the game each character levels up, gaining skill points for their various trees. This makes early levels easy, but each stage is significantly less forgiving than the preceding one. Grinding early levels could become necessary depending on how kind the loot gods have been to Lugh and his crew. If the gods are cold and distant, at least items at the store aren’t expensive and farming for experience points yields enough gold to get decent equipment in quick order.
Grinding is Heroes Paradox’s downside, but it’s par for the course in RPGs. One skill increase and some new duds doesn’t necessarily mean a character will survive the just-unlocked story stage. Since only characters alive at the end of the level gain experience points, repeating unlocked levels with a different team can either keep all the companions at equal strength, or allow the chosen few to proceed.
Players needn’t hover over Lugh and his crew during grinds with as much intensity (since they’re less likely to die), so that can make the grinding a little dull. Luckily the levels are brief enough that the annoyance is shorter-lived than the characters. There are also challenges to complete, which are alternate versions of already defeated stages.
With the brains of a solid android RPG hidden under that deceptively cute traditional RPG exterior, Heroes Paradox gets almost everything right. Sure, HP uses some standard formulas: shiny twee graphics, simple but involving gameplay, a large selection of short levels, semi-customizable characters, etc., but in this case nothing is wrong with that. If you want to make a good cake, generally you use a recipe. And Heroes Paradox is pretty sweet.
Is it Hardcore?
Don’t let the cuteness fool you. Heroes Paradox is a solid, if basic RPG in a cute package.