I wanted to do a second PSP month this year, seeing as I had a lot of fun doing it last year. Getting to cover unique games on a system that kind of gets the shit end of the stick in retrospectives is something that appeals to me. People are more than aware of my current gimmick of loving dungeon crawlers to the point of mentioning Wizardry in seemingly every post I make, regardless of the subject actually having anything to do with Wizardry.
Class of Heroes is, as you’ve no doubt already gathered, a dungeon crawler on the PSP. It was a game I actually started playing at the end of July, wanting to give it some time before sitting down to write about it. I need you all to know that Class of Heroes is so fucking bad, I nearly scrapped doing this whole PSP-themed month. I was struggling, contemplating dropping the whole idea and writing about fighting games or New Vegas or something much more enjoyable.
Class of Heroes was made by the same developers as the Wizardry Xth series, and is technically an unofficial third entry in the series, much like Elminage being an unofficial Wizardry Empire. I have not played any of the Xth games, but based on what I’ve seen here, I have missed out on nothing. The game was recently remade for the Nintendo Switch, with a PC release on the way. No idea if the remake will actually make the game any good, but I’ll keep an eye out.
What makes Class of Heroes so bad, you may be wondering. The thing about dungeon crawlers is that they are repetitive. Not a bad repetition, mind you, more like a loop. In games like Wizardry and Elminage, you explore a dungeon, fight enemies to get stronger and find better equipment until you have cleared the final floor. While you do this, there is always some semblance of progress being made. It doesn’t matter if you explore an entire floor, or you stop and return to town after mapping out two squares, something happened. This is a genre about slowly but surely hacking away at this seemingly insurmountable challenge. It feels rewarding to completely map out a floor, or to easily defeat an enemy that gave you trouble an hour ago, or to find an extremely rare weapon, or to get the stats necessary to change into a Samurai or Ninja. The secret to the dungeon crawler formula is that stuff happens even when it doesn’t appear like anything is actually happening.
CoH does not have this. CoH is a game about spinning your wheels. Experience is slow to earn, with characters taking a very long time to get from level 1 to level 2. Enemies either do hardly any damage, or have attacks that can completely one-shot a character. Weapons in the shop, even the most basic of swords, costs hundreds of gold and you only get about 5 gold per battle in the early going, if you get any gold at all. So instead of buying weapons, you have to take part in the game’s crafting system, and make better weapons yourself. Except that getting the right parts is still a gamble, so you have to run around, get into battles in a game with a fairly low encounter rate, and hope you can get the parts to make a slightly better dagger so your Dwarf Fighter with a high strength stat will do more than a single point of damage, if they can even land a shot at all. Oh, and I should also mention that the dungeon layout changes every time you enter. Now, while the changes are limited to a few layouts that remain mapped out when you return, you still can’t make any real plan of attack insofar as finding crafting materials or key items because you don’t know what layout you’ll be in next time. Doesn’t really help that one of these layouts, on the very first floor, mind you, has over a dozen warp tiles behind over a dozen doors that send you back to the entrance of the dungeon, so you have to go back and forth finding the right door that doesn’t send you back. Wizardry has repetition, Class of Heroes has tedium.
I never made it past the various permutations of the first floor of the game’s “Novice Dungeon.” I didn’t want to. I was so tired of navigating tedious dungeons that constantly shift, fighting tedious battles with up to nine enemies at a time doing no damage to them (or else end battles quicker by completely exhaust my magic supply immediately), looking for the one Torn Rag or Broken Twig that will give my party is a slight advantage when they aren’t dying of poison or electrified floors. It doesn’t feel like anything is happening in Class of Heroes, other than wasting my time.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there is finally a dungeon crawler I’ve reviewed for this site that I don’t like. Never thought it would happen, but here we are. It’s a shame. Class of Heroes was bad enough that I stopped playing, loaded up Traveler’s Property, and ended up finishing it. A much better use of my time.