Forums Game Chat The Cruel King and the Great Hero – very charming, but also very grindy and slow

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    The Cruel King and the Great Hero is a turn-based RPG available for the Nintendo Switch and the Playstation 4. Its digital version has the base price of $30. It doesn’t have a standard physical release; instead, it had a physical Storybook Edition for $60, and a special Treasure Trove Bundle for some crazy high price.

    I don’t recommend either of the physical editions unless one really, really wants the plushies that come with them (heroine plushie for the Storybook Edition, dragon plushie for the Treasure Trove Bundle). As much as I enjoyed the game, it doesn’t have much replay value.

    The initial release of The Cruel King and the Great Hero had some nasty bugs that could crash the game or permanently deprive the player of a currency used to unlock the art gallery (which is required earn one of the PS4 trophies). The good news is that The Cruel King and the Great Hero has been patched to version 1.01. When I played version 1.01 on the PS4, the game only crashed once in an entire 30 hour playthrough, and I had no problem unlocking the art gallery.

    An irritating problem with The Cruel King and the Great Hero is that I couldn’t play it offline. When my internet service was down for maintenance, The Cruel King and the Great Hero would not boot up, even though I tried half a dozen times and my other digital PS4 games worked fine. When my internet service came back, I could play The Cruel King and the Great Hero again. This game is a single-player RPG; there’s no multiplayer content whatsoever, not even anything like a leaderboard, and there’s no reason for it to be unplayable without an internet connection.

    The Cruel King and the Great Hero has an extremely charming story, told with a storybook aesthetic. Cutscenes appear like pages of a children’s picturebook. A voice actress narrates the story as if reading aloud. Her voice acting is in Japanese only (with English text on the screen, or Japanese text on the screen if the player chooses that language option).

    The story’s protagonist is Yuu, a ten-year-old human girl who is the only child of a great hero. The Dragon King adopted Yuu as an infant, and often tells her bedtime stories of her father’s great deeds. Yuu wishes to become a great hero herself one day, and the Dragon King helps her train to achieve her goal. But the Dragon King has a dark secret that he has not yet revealed to his beloved daughter…

    The story is presented in an emotionally powerful manner. Assorted optional sidequests in Yuu’s journey to become a Great Hero are “Acts of Kindness” that Yuu undertakes for the residents of the peaceful Monster Village (a few sidequests involve humans who also need Yuu’s help). The underlying theme of these quests, and perhaps of the entire game, is that helping those in need is what being a Hero is all about.

    For all of the game’s heartwarming qualities, it’s still hard to recommend. Why? Because it’s grindy and slow-paced. The limited array of combat options means that level grinding is required to beat bosses (or survive regular encounters), especially from the halfway point on. Completing all sidequests will naturally result in enough experience to beat the game, but there are a LOT of sidequests, and all of their item-fetching can get tedious.

    What do I mean by “slow-paced”? I mean “Yuu walks very slowly and gets a random encounter every several steps.” When Yuu outlevels an area, she can run and the encounter rate drops; she can also use the Monsterbane item to further reduce the encounter rate, but Monsterbane only works in areas where she can run.

    Thankfully, attempting to escape battles does not cost Yuu a turn. Escaping has a nearly 100% success rate if Yuu outlevels an area, but if she doesn’t outlevel an area, then escaping doesn’t seem to have more than a 50% success rate, maybe lower. Attempting to escape battles is still recommended, just because it lowers the irritating quantity of random encounters that drag down the game’s pacing.

    I enjoyed playing The Cruel King and the Great Hero once, primarily for its story. It was so grindy and slow-paced that I can’t imagine ever wanting to play it a second time. If you like traditional, turn-based JRPGs with heartwarming stories, and if you have a certain level of tolerance for random encounters and slow pacing, then hopefully you’ll find the game worthwhile.

    I would still recommend waiting for The Cruel King and the Great Hero to go on digital sale before buying it. $30 is a bit steep for a game that clearly did not break any art budgets, animation budgets, or game design budgets.

    Favorite RPG of all time: Journey to Kreisia (by Exe-Create)

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