Ever see the abundance of heroes in an RPG and wonder where exactly they came from? Well PQube and Agate are here to answer that question with Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story – the RPG/school management sim that sees you raising a ton of heroes to help protect the Kingdom of Valthiria.
Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story puts you in the shoes of a headmaster of the school of heroes in Valthiria, which is currently in a time of mourning following the death of the Queen. With a strange cult attacking though and the need of a new leader, it’s up to you to ensure that there are plenty of heroes to help protect the Kingdom and also to help it find a new Queen. There are five different Queens to pledge allegiance to though and even a long-missing Princess to find, so your actions won’t only shape the Kingdom but will also determine how the tale ends.
So your main job in Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story is to run a school of heroes, meaning you’ll be in charge of recruiting students, training them, and ensuring they have the facilities in place to have the best chance to become a hero for the Kingdom. There are multiple facilities you can place throughout the school, with each one offering specific boosts to your students be it something like XP earned, gold earned, or even how many items they can find out on the field. There are other facilities such as the dormitories that’ll determine how many students you can hold at the school too, so you’ll want to keep on top of things like that to ensure you always have a good selection of students available.
Why do you need so many students, you ask? Well, your goal as headmaster is to help as many students graduate as possible – every six months in-game you’re expected to have at least one student graduate (and often with specific skills too). If you manage to graduate more than one you’ll earn more bonuses, so naturally you’ll want to have as many able students ready as possible. They can’t graduate until they reach level ten though, so there’s a lot of training involved in the meantime. I actually hated seeing some students leave – whilst most are lacking the personality for you to get emotionally attached to them, it’d be easy to rely on their skills in combat so having them leave for good was almost tragic.
When a student reaches level ten, you’re actually able to give them a specialist role (provided you have the facilities to do so). These aren’t only necessary for the game’s tougher missions (more on that later) but also for when the Kingdom requires specifically-skilled warriors. Giving them a specialist role resets their level to zero though, meaning you’ve got to send them on missions again in order to build them up to graduate. It demands a bit of thought from the player as far as student management is concerned, whilst the Kingdom’s demands for multiple students with varying specialties also means you can’t always just stick to one group of characters but have to evenly balance them out to ensure everyone’s skills are constantly improving.
Whilst the management of your school is one of the core features of Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story, I never found that it really offered that much flexibility. It was always obvious which facilities offered the most beneficial boosts, whilst the size restriction means you can’t have one of each facility type anyway – in fact, I compared my save file with a friend and we essentially had the exact same things. Some facilities aren’t even useful until you unlock the right character either, so it’s baffling why they’re included as options to build immediately in the first place.
It just all felt a little limited, which is a bit of a shame. Management sims normally focus on giving the player the freedom to craft exactly what they want and fine-tune every little detail, but I never felt like I could do that in Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story. At least it deserves some praise for being easy to manage though, with quick button presses easily seeing you go through the in-game menus and observing your resources with minimal fuss.
Outside of the management of your school, you’ll also partake in two types of missions in Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story. Naturally, it’s essential to complete these missions to improve your student’s skills and level them up, so you’ll have to allocate multiple parties of four to ensure everyone gets their opportunity out on the field.
Errands simply see you sending out a party of four to a location and waiting for their return, with their success earning XP, gold and items. These are the simplest missions since you don’t actually have to do anything but wait. Be warned though: do NOT send out all your parties on errands at the same time, because you’ll just find yourself twiddling your thumbs with nothing to do until they return. As mentioned, the school management doesn’t always offer a whole lot to do, so waiting in-game weeks for characters to return is a bit of a pain.
Fortunately, there are standard quests where you get to take a more hands-on approach and actually control your characters in battle. Most of them boil down to the same sort of things (find a certain amount of items, kill specific enemies, or reach certain points of the map) but they never really stop being fun. Combat is simple and efficient, whilst the skills of your characters are varied enough to make playing as each one feel enjoyable – you can swap who you’re controlling mid-battle too, so you’re never stuck in one role. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of button-mashing taking place and there’s not always a need for strategy, but each mission is short and simple so you won’t tire of them.
Each of these missions have varying difficulties that are represented by stars and believe me, some of the higher rated ones come with some nasty difficulty spikes. Missions can get brutal fast and you can expect to fail lot, with stronger enemies coming at you thick and fast as you progress further through the game. However, whilst missions become tougher, the punishment for dying in Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story is never too severe – whilst it might seem like your students are leaving their graves on the battlefield when defeated, by the end of a mission they’re back in action for you. It’s actually hard to fail at anything in the game regardless of difficulty spikes, with the player always able to have another go or simply returning to their school with no real consequence.
Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story is an enjoyable little game, though it is one that has its fair share of issues. One of the core features is the management of the school, but that feels limited in scope and there’s not always flexibility there to build it exactly how you want. There are steep difficulty spikes in the missions too, which might put some players off – especially when you consider how repetitive they can be to begin with.
Despite these issues, I still sunk plenty of hours into the game without growing bored. Everything comes in small chunks too so you never feel overwhelmed by anything, whilst the simple but satisfying missions do enough to keep you entertained. Add to that a fairly low price tag of £11.99 and it’s hard to feel short-changed by the game.
Still, there’s no denying that there’s not a lot of depth to Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story as both a management sim and an RPG, and whilst it is fun to play it’s clear there are better titles across both genres available right now.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC