Hero U: Rogue to Redemption

Game review by
Angelica Guarino, Common Sense Media
Hero U: Rogue to Redemption Game Poster Image
Magic school adventure's slow pacing pays off in great game.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Explores ideas of good and evil rather than presenting characters as one-dimensional. Though not every decision option is great, players are tasked with thinking several steps ahead of what they choose to say and do, calling on practical skill of conceptualizing and weighing consequences. Building relationships with other characters requires choosing thoughtful and respectful dialogue options and remembering others' traits and preferences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Shawn begins his journey at Hero U as a snarky, immature boy, he learns importance of cultivating healthy relationships, studying hard, practicing his craft. Though he's not always a perfect citizen, young players may be able to see parts of Shawn in themselves and recognize his growth overall as positive. 

Ease of Play

Mostly a simple point-and-click adventure game; the most complicated mechanic is mastering the art of time management, which comes with time and practice. Combat is occasional, turn-based, offers only a few action options.

Violence

Students regularly practice with throwing knives and daggers, though they're instructed to engage in violence only if necessary. But some money-making options in the game include slaying giant rats and cockroaches in the school's secret basement wine cellar.

Sex

Players have ability to flirt with fellow classmates and offer them small romantic gifts such as roses. The romance doesn't turn explicitly sexual, but male characters do sometimes make unsolicited comments about female characters' looks, some of which can be suggestive. 

Language
Consumerism

Takes place within the same universe as the larger Quest for Glory franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Contains references to drinking alcohol, as well as a scene in a wine cellar: Shawn has a choice to drink out of some old wine bottles. If players choose this option, Shawn gets injured while he's inebriated and is rescued by a teacher, who yells at him for being irresponsible. Students also engage in a card game after every test; they're able to gamble in-game money. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hero U: Rouge to Redemption is a fantasy adventure game available for Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs. Created by veteran designers Lori and Corey Cole, Hero U is their first game published together in over 20 years. It exists within the same universe as the Coles' famous 1990s adventure game series Quest for Glory, though no knowledge of the past series is required to follow this game. This story follows a young man who, after being caught stealing, is forced to attend Hero U, a magical school that trains heroes, as punishment. Players have the option to flirt with some of their classmates, with comments that aren't overtly sexual, but there are some unsolicited comments about female characters' appearance. Players can also indulge in some drinking and gambling in the game, which will have negative repercussions. There are some fights but no blood, and no fights are against human opponents.

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What's it about?

In HERO U: ROGUE TO REDEMPTION, Shawn O'Conner is a bit of an outsider. After he's caught trying to steal a valuable coin from a flashy home, he's whisked away to magic school Hero U and forced to choose between going to jail or attending classes there. Shawn is assigned to the Rogue class, which at Hero U is called "Disbarred Bards," in order to avoid the stigma of roguish activities. Shawn soon meets his classmates -- Thomas, Caesari, Katie, Esme, and Joel -- and learns the daily routine of balancing classes, improving skills, and exploring the castle. Throughout each day, events such as exams and optional quests emerge as players make choices about who Shawn will become. Who will he become close to? Can he avoid the overbearing gaze of Headmaster Mortimer Terk, who will seemingly stop at nothing to find a reason to have Shawn expelled? Will Shawn spend more time in the library or sneaking around the halls past curfew? Most importantly, who is the anonymous sponsor who brought Shawn to Hero U in the first place?

Is it any good?

In the best way possible, this adventure feels like a game that was made 20 years ago. The dialogue in Hero U: Rouge to Redemption is offbeat and witty in a way that feels imperfect. It's slow to get started and doesn't give players all the answers they need right away. In a way, it's not offering instant gratification. Hero U is a great example, reminding players that old school doesn't necessarily mean outdated, and new doesn't necessarily mean innovative. While this slower-paced experience may feel more familiar to those who remember playing older games, it's not so foreign that younger players won't be able to appreciate it. 

A positive standout feature is the lack of "right" and "wrong" choices in how players choose to spend their time. Many strategies will lead Shawn successfully throughout the story, since the only real goal is to avoid expulsion. There's also a relaxing element to the routine of each school day. Many events are the same, but each class lecture contains a unique cutscene that either moves the story along or offers information that will be relevant to a class exam question (which players have to remember the answers to and manually answer!). It's all but guaranteed that players won't be able to discover everything on the first playthrough, and understanding how to maximize Shawn's time every day between skill-building, peer relationships, and money-making for school supplies is difficult at first. It's easy to feel like not much is being accomplished in the first few days, but once players find a rhythm, the days move faster and become more rewarding, leaving extra time for optional quests and puzzles. Overall, fans of casual RPGs (role-playing games) and fantasy adventures are sure to appreciate the corny jokes and small details throughout this tale of adolescent shenanigans and hard-earned redemption. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways that Shawn attempts to flirt with his classmates. What about his approach might be appropriate or inappropriate in real life, and what are realistic ways that people can tell if affection is reciprocated?

  • Is there ever a difference between stealing and "borrowing" items, as some game characters say? What's the correct way to borrow an item from a friend or family member?

Game details

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