As Slow As The Town Is Old

HIGH Unique combat system. Stunning artwork.

LOW The random elements of combat.

WTF What is she smoking that burns purple?

In a small mining town nestled safely behind a castle, a young boy dreams of getting out and seeing the world. Tradition prohibits anyone from leaving, but this sleepy village is thrown into chaos when monsters appear and start attacking. With mining tool in hand, the boy takes it upon himself to defend his town and keep his friends safe.

Little Town Hero is a turn-based RPG that has a Saturday morning cartoon vibe to it — each chapter starts with a mundane thing happening, players explore the town a bit, and then there’s a climactic fight against a monster that attacks the city.

Combat is all about “Ideas”. Each turn, players have a set of Ideas in a deck that can be attacks, defenses, or skill moves that do a variety of things from granting extra damage to powering up other ideas.

Each Idea costs energy – a resource that players will automatically gain each round. As a battle goes on, players earn more energy to use bigger Ideas. Each Idea also has a strength and a health score, and when it runs out of health, the idea is broken.

After each round of combat, the fight moves to a different part of town represented by a map. Movement is dictated by a dice roll and always happens in a straight line, but occasionally there’s a branching path, and some spots have an event on them — a resident might say some encouraging words and give the player a new Idea, for example. There are also items to interact with, and some friends with powers to help the player out.

This system of Ideas in a deck and fighting in different locations around town is clever, but there are some issues.

The deck of Ideas will reset before every battle, but since the selection is random. As such, it’s possible to get a deck that puts the player at a disadvantage from turn one. The map movement can be just as cruel — there are times that require the player to arrive at a specific spot to progress a fight, and the required dice rolls might not come up.

However, the worst part about Little Town Hero is the speed. Of course turn-based RPGs are slow, but the first real fight took over 30 minutes. That wasn’t the longest, either — I’ve had fights last over an hour. And if a fight is lost due to a bad dice roll or a bad set of random Ideas, look forward to replaying that fight from turn one.

I’m all about turn-based combat and being meticulous when planning out my moves, but I also enjoy spending my time in a way that feels satisfying. These battles are just too long, and it’s awful to lose such lengthy battles due to factors that rely on chance.

Little Town Hero looks great and the combat has a nice puzzle-like quality, but it’s hurt significantly by random elements punishing the player and battles dragging out for so long. It’s got a quirky charm that a certain kind of player will love, but that kind of player is not me.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Asymmetric.  It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 18 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Language and Violence. There is fantasy violence via fighting the monsters each chapter, and the language warning is due to a couple of minor examples (“bastard”, etc.) There is no blood or gore in the combat. Might not want to have young kids playing the game.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All information is text based, but there are no options to resize text. There is some text that will show additional attributes for skills that is fairly small, and could be tough to read on handheld.

Controls: Controls are not remappable, and there is no control diagram. Players will use the left control stick to move, right stick to move the camera, and “A” to interact. In Battle: “A” to select ideas, “B” to cancel, “Y” to bring up the menu, “L” in battle to interact with special events/characters, “X” to bring up player’s remaining ideas to swap as necessary, and right stick to look at details for the enemy ideas.

Eugene Sax
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