If you’ve ever looked at Wizardry or Etrian Odyssey and said, “This game isn’t nearly difficult or complicated enough for me,” then I have the game for you. Zerodiv, Gaijinworks and Monkeypaw Games have just brought us Class of Heroes 2. It’s a PSP dungeon crawler that turns the experience into an academic adventure. Instead of playing a rag-tag group of explorers out to save the world, players are a group of students at an academy for adventurers, learning the ins-and-outs of generic heroics.
Class of Heroes 2 begins at Crostini Academy. The player joins a fresh batch of students that is hoping to study and become adventurers. The group quickly befriends a fellow student named Olive, who also happens to be their class representative, and finds itself in the class with legendary Diablos teacher Dante, who’s known for his skill and ruthlessness. As the group works together, exploring further and taking on missions, Bruskett and Panini Academies will open up with more race-specific classes and adventures. Rest assured that all areas will have dorms, clinics, shops, alchemy labs, offices and libraries so people will always be able to keep moving forward and getting stronger.
Unexpectedly, there are towns to visit as well, so players will be getting quite a well-rounded and practical education.
As a Wizardry style game, Class of Heroes 2 involves creating custom characters. There are 10 different races, two genders, three alignments and 19 different classes. Naturally, some classes are only available after reaching a certain number of points in one stat, require a certain alignment, and may even require people to get to a certain point in the game to unlock. Gender can play a part, too, as a female summoner has access to different spirits than a male summoner. Race can, too, as only a fairy can be a sage. All of these options make even getting started with Class of Heroes 2 quite difficult. I spent about an hour before I even started playing, trying to put together a group of races that would get along well, and also have access to certain, special classes.
I figure the best way to start things off is by mentioning the only thing I really didn’t like about Class of Heroes 2, then moving onto everything else. I hate Giorgio. He’s the alchemy professor, as well as a master of cosplay and body modification. I found him offensive, and he came across as the embodiment of multiple, flamboyant tropes. It isn’t Gaijinworks’ fault—it’s not like they created him—but they could have toned his character down and made him more palateable and less stereotypical. I understand that there’s only so much that can be done with a character that dresses like a fairy in a pink leotard, but adjustments could have been made.
This is especially the case since Gaijinworks’ translation of Class of Heroes 2 is so well done. You don’t expect a lot of personality in Wizardry and Etrian Odyssey-style games. A lot is left to the player’s imagination. Except, here, Gaijinworks has made the characters, like Olive and Dante, stand out. Atlus did a decent job with the original Class of Heroes, but somehow Class of Heroes 2‘s has a little more love put into it.
Trust me that you’ll want to pay attention to that, because you’ll savor those moments. The rest of Class of Heroes 2 is can be difficult enough that the little story segments you’ll get to enjoy when your party survives feel like a reward. Class of Heroes 2 makes Etrian Odyssey and Wizardry feel like they coddle players. Both other games offer at least some semblences of guidance. This game has none. Players are thrown into an adventure with no information on what must be done to succeed. Fortunately, most of the difficulty does stem from not having enough money at the start to properly prepare a group. It took me over two hours of dungeon grinding to have enough money to buy proper, beginning weapons for my party. That’s because enemies rarely drop materials needed to make items for alchemy recipes, which you even have to buy in the first place, and each school’s shop is specifically designed to rip players off—just like a real college store.
That said, as long as someone is smart enough to pace him or herself and go slow, Class of Heroes 2 won’t ruin you. I’ve found as long as I took my time, level grinding like crazy, saving often and never pushing myself, I’d survive. My team actually even thrived. It’s almost like the game pushes someone to move slowly though, as constant map-checking is required to even make it through a dungeon. Since the mini-map isn’t as helpful as a full map, constant consultation is practically mandatory.
This is mainly due to a dungeon not having many distinguishing features. There’s no music. There are few major landmarks. It’s usually all one kind of environment, and sometimes it’s even difficult to tell where you can or can’t go, just by looking in front of yourself. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, even if someone does have a map and especially if you want to find a way into a hidden area. This also means stumbling into quite a few battles while trying to find a way around.
That isn’t a bad thing though. So long as a player has a properly equipped party, the Class of Heroes 2 battles are a lot of fun. Classic comic “effects” when attacks are unleashed, interesting looking monsters and a variety of special solo attacks and team attacks. Granted, there has to be a certain amount of team affinity built up by having the same characters of compatible races working together for a while, but that just makes it more satisfying when you can perform one of these special actions. The turn-based battles do move quickly and provide a decent challenge, and I didn’t feel they were terribly tedious.
Class of Heroes 2 just has a lot to overcome. The original Class of Heroes didn’t make the best impression and the current installment represents a genre that even many die-hard RPG fans don’t seek out. This game will not hold your hand. It will not make adventuring easy for you. It wants to break you and make you cry. If that is too daunting, don’t grab it.
However, there are people out there who hear this and see it as a challenge. Class of Heroes 2 is a call to arms for people who savor games that make them work for every accomplishment. People who want to spend hours becoming strong enough to pass through a single area will appreciate Class of Heroes 2‘s challenge and minutae. Just be aware that if you are that kind of person, you’ll probably end up spending at least 30 or 40 hours on this game.
Food for Thought:
1. Don’t go through with making a character unless you have gotten at least 18 bonus points to put towards skills.
2. If you’re having troubles with alchemy or dungeon crawling, the Gaijinworks website has a Game Help section for Class of Heroes 2.
3. Buy maps, otherwise you’ll never know where you are in a dungeon.
4. Be mindful of character races when making a party, to be sure the group has good affinity for group attacks. Don’t put a Dwarf with an Elf or Felpur, and Bahamuns and Diablos will only work wit Gnomes.