The Cruel King and the Great Hero Review (Switch)
Release Date: March 15, 2022
File Size: 1.2GB
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Click here to view on the Nintendo eShop.
In fairytales, the battle between good and evil is never-ending. Villains will show their hand by laying waste to villages and kingdoms, while heroes sweep in at the last moment to save the entire world from certain doom. It’s a tale as old as time, but one that is always effective at getting its point across.
The Cruel King and the Great Hero takes this classic story trope and weaves its own tale of a young girl with a dream, and a dragon who wants nothing more than to help her attain it. As a spiritual successor to The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, this game aims to be shown in greater detail than its predecessor. There is also an emphasis placed on making this game easy to pick up, whether the player is an adult or a child. But just how welcoming is The Cruel King and the Great Hero?
The Cruel King and the Great Hero is a story about a young girl called Yuu who wishes to become a great hero just like her father. She lives under the close watch of the Dragon King, who rules over the monsters. The dragon found himself watching over the young girl after her father died and wishes to do whatever it takes to make sure that her dream comes true. He even goes through the effort of supplying her with a sword and pot. As you travel through the beginning portions of the game, you will often see the dragon in the background, helping her clear through obstacles and even helping her in battle without her knowing.
Eventually, the Dragon King will ease Yuu into exploring the world outside of their monster den. And as she starts expanding her reach out, she will come across several people in need of help. But things don’t stay peaceful for long, as there soon are rumblings that the Demon King may make his return and finish what he’s started. As you go through the story, you will watch as Yuu grows, both as a character and as a fighter.
The main story of The Cruel King and the Great Hero is fairly straightforward and linear, with you traveling from one area to the next to help characters in need. There are side quests that you can complete as well, dubbed as Yuu’s Acts of Kindness. These side quests tend to be either gathering materials for villagers, locating characters, or defeating monsters, but the interactions between Yuu and other characters are pretty cute.
The Cruel King and the Great Hero is a turn-based RPG where you control Yuu and one other character. In the moments where you are not in battle, you control Yuu and travel between areas in a side-scrolling manner. The areas tend to be fairly small, with paths being cut up into multiple areas rather than long continuous trails that you can follow. You will come across treasure chests that can hold items or are mimics in disguise. There are also obstacles where you will need a specific character to be in your team in order to bypass. These obstacles are hanging chests, dirt patches, and gaps where bursts of air stop you from moving forward.
There are multiple areas in The Cruel King and the Great Hero that you will find yourself traveling through. And while there is a fast travel system in the form of fountains, they are a bit inconvenient. You can only teleport using fountains, so if you find yourself on the other side of the map from where a fountain is located, you’ll either need to tough it up and backtrack or use an item that the game gives you to teleport back to the Monster Village. While having an item that teleports you directly back to the village is nice, it does beg the question of why this couldn’t have been done for the other areas as well.
Outside of combat, you can do a number of things such as change out your equipment, unlock collection art using currency from side quests, manage your inventory, and more. With equipment, each character can hold a weapon, armor piece, and two accessories. Each character has their own specialty weapon and armor type that they can wear, so you can’t mix/match. However, any accessory can be equipped across units.
The battles in The Cruel King and the Great Hero are turn-based, with turn order based on your speed stat. All battles with the exception to boss battles are random encounters. The amount of random encounters are a bit on the high side, although this can decrease if you are much higher than monsters in a particular area. If you are higher level, you are given the option to run through an area. Otherwise, you will find yourself walking for a majority of the game.
During your turn in battle, you can choose to attack, guard, use a skill, use an item, or escape. You have both a stamina bar and an energy bar to keep track of during battle, with stamina being your health and energy being what you need to use skills. Energy replenishes by one point each turn or after a level up. Stamina will only replenish automatically after a level up or if you’re holding onto a stamina replenishing item. After winning a battle, you will get shells (money that can be used to buy items), exp, and sometimes item drops.
In terms of difficulty, the game progresses pretty steadily. If you battle against every monster that you encounter in your journey, you should be fine in terms of your level compared to enemies. As you travel deeper into each area, you’ll come across harder hitting enemies until you finally face the boss. The boss battles are handled just like the random battles, but you’ll want to keep an eye on your health, as it can be gone before you know it.
Each potential team member has their own strengths and weaknesses, although they each tend to blend together in terms of combat. Enemies do have weaknesses of their own that can be exploited, but the moments to actually exploit said weaknesses felt as though they didn’t come up that often to even account for them. Along with that, experience doesn’t transfer over to other team members once the game opens up the option to choose who you wish to travel with. So if you grind up one character and then come back to switch, the other remaining characters will be at the level you left them at.
The art for The Cruel King and the Great Hero is very cute, taking a storybook approach for the styling. The images are a mixture of sketches and painted illustrations and give off a lighthearted charm, akin to a children’s book. The story portions of the game are told with still images, with white text fading in as the story is narrated before flipping to the next image. However, due to the light colors, this does make the text a bit hard to read at times. Nonetheless, the game does a great job at selling the atmosphere of the game, giving a cozy feeling.
Outside of the story cutscenes, there is a great attention to detail paid not just to the characters, but the background as well. While the colors are subtle, there are still points of vibrancy that make everything appealing to look at. I especially liked the detail of the entrances and exits of each area being illuminated with a golden hue. The music is very light and majestic, with a mixture of flutes, guitars, and pianos. There are a mix of slow and fast tracks, with the fast tracks tending to play during battle. There is also a narrator who will voice all of the cutscene text in the game. The voice acting is only in Japanese but the voice actor chosen was a nice choice, with their light voice. It was reminiscent of having someone read a story to you.
The Cruel King and the Great Hero is a charming game with mildly cumbersome gameplay mechanics. The storytelling and characters are very lovely and you find yourself wanting to root for everyone. Yuu is doing her absolute best to become a great hero and although she’s a child, her goal doesn’t feel quite as lofty as you progress on. The Dragon King wants to help her as much as possible, while watching the child he helped grow up before his eyes.
When it comes to the gameplay, the only downsides would probably be the fact that the game is primarily random encounters with a clunky teleportation system. On one hand, the large quantity of random encounters does help with keeping your levels up so that you don’t fall behind as you progress through the story. But on the other hand, if you’re trying to speed through an area and you’re not overleveled for the area to let you run through, it can quickly become tedious. That paired with teleporting only being locked to fountains and you may face moments where things feel a bit dated.
All in all, The Cruel King and the Great Hero is a cute, albeit slightly simple and dated RPG. If you were a fan of The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince in terms of appearance, you’ll definitely come to enjoy this game as well. There aren’t a multitude of systems to keep track of, with the game seeking to keep things simple. At the same time, the story is heartwarming. Even if you’re able to see the plot unfold before secrets are revealed, it is told in a way that is sure to bring a smile to your face.