A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
This title is very much a storybook tale -- from the character design to the artistic style to the lessons learned. This isn't to say it feels typical, but rather that characters often display a hyperrealistic sense of responsibility to help those in need and be good neighbors. Overall, this is endearing and definitely a positive portrayal of the story's message for younger players
Positive Role Models
Yuu is a brave young girl who wishes to grow up and be a hero. To her, that doesn't just mean being strong in battle. It's her mission to travel across the in-game world and help every animal in need, and this comes from a place of strength, generosity, and determination. Everyone should all be more like Yuu, and her character is definitely a standout role model.
The protagonist - Yuu - uses she/her pronouns and appears female. Aside from this, though, there aren't any pointed lessons about diversity or culture.
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Ease of Play
This title uses very accessible RPG (role-playing game) elements such as turn-based battles, collecting and using items, and exploring environments. The controls and menu options are intuitive, and there are no technical issues to report with the game. But the battle difficulty can be very inconsistent, with many battles feeling extremely repetitive only to be broken up by a very challenging battle seemingly coming out of nowhere. This jolt back-and-forth ends up feeling strange and makes certain sections of the game much less enjoyable than others.
Violence & Scariness
The heroic, sympathetic, and likable character of Yuu uses a sword to fight monsters consistently throughout the game, which is something families should take note of. Combat is highly based on fantasy, and enemies disappear with a puff of smoke once defeated.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The ESRB rating mentions the in-game use of alcohol, but there are no negative depictions of this behavior present.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Cruel King and The Great Hero is an RPG (role-playing game) available for Nintendo Switch. Told through chapters and side quests called "acts of kindness," the central storyline of The Cruel King recounts the tale of Yuu, a young girl living with her adoptive father, the Dragon King. Though her birth father has passed away prior to the beginning of the story, Yuu thinks of him every night and asks the Dragon King to tell her stories of his great adventures. During the day, Yuu travels around to nearby villages, helping villagers who need assistance with everything from finding lost items to solving puzzles. Infused with storybook elements, this title uses simple RPG mechanics like turn-based battles while letting the storytelling and the character of Yuu shine. Though violence is present in battles, combat is highly based on fantasy, and enemies disappear with a puff of smoke once defeated.
Is It Any Good?
With a gorgeous art style and beautifully-written story, this adventure sets itself up for success right away, but its gameplay is flawed. Thanks to the characters of The Cruel King and The Great Hero, players will immediately fall in love with Yuu and the Dragon King's relationship. One of the most emotionally-moving moments occurs when Yuu first goes out to explore the world on her own. She thinks she's alone, but the Dragon King is actually hidden away in the forest behind her, where he remains throughout most of the game. Small details such as this allow for emotional investment in the story that continues to pay off as it unfolds.
This title shows flaws, though, when considering the gameplay itself. After all, this is an RPG (role-playing game), not a visual novel. There's nothing complicated about the battle system or the environments, but the gameplay feels inconsistent. Yuu and the characters she teams up with only have a few move options, and it takes too long to get new abilities. So, in the beginning, battles feel very repetitive. This is further complicated by the rate at which Yuu runs into enemies when exploring. Sometimes, players can't take a few steps without encountering another repetitive battle with weak enemies. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Yuu will face enemies that are particularly difficult, making players feel like they entered the wrong area of the map or didn't level up enough to continue. These gameplay issues are disappointing when considering how strong the story is by itself. If the battles were too simple or repetitive, this could be the perfect starter RPG for young players to experience an amazing story and learn some RPG mechanics. If the battles were more challenging, this would be a unique title for older players looking for a great story and gameplay that keeps their attention. But, thanks to these inconsistencies, this title is an okay pick for everyone instead of being precisely engineered for a specific audience.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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