Title: Healer’s Quest
Platform: PC (reviewed)
Publisher: Rablo Games
Developer: Rablo Games
Release Date: April 18, 2018
PC: The UK price is to yet to be determined, but is otherwise priced at $15, with an at launch discount.
TL;DR: BE NICE TO YOUR HEALER
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Let’s be real – no one wants to play a healer.
Healing is boring. Healing means being the responsible one. Healing means using up all your spell slots on ungrateful bastards of team mates who didn’t bother to take buy any potions back at the last town because they were too expensive. It also leaves you stuck in the corners of fights when all your friends get to kill things like giant wasps, and wyverns, because you only have about three hit points, and your Constitution stat is a joke.
Healer’s Quest takes that notion and runs with it; a parody RPG that’s a love letter to Western fantasy and Dungeons and Dragons, you’re stuck playing the underappreciated healer in your band of jerk adventurers, and have to make sure they stay alive when they get themselves into all kinds of trouble. It’s cute, fresh, and genuinely funny, with well crafted dungeons, to boot.
The plot is pretty simple – you’re off to track down the N00b Sword from the guy who keeps swiping it (and your gold) out from under your nose, so in true D&D style, you’re off traipsing around the land to look for it. You’ll either explore the world map, or dungeons, and both are thankfully nicely tailored to make the experience enjoyable. The dungeons are very short, so strictly speaking, they aren’t “dungeons,” at all, but are packed with enough content to make them worth it. You’ll fight a mid boss and a final boss, sandwiched with plenty of mandatory random encounters along the way. While there’s not anything else to do in said dungeons apart from fight and open chests, because the dungeons are so small, you’re never left feeling cheated, just satisfied. The map, an obvious shout out to early Final Fantasy games, has the option to toggle a directional arrow on and off, saving you the frustration of running around in circles.
Gameplay, too, is very simple – your healer (which you can name anything ending in a -y, to fit your team of Murky, Grumpy, Tanky, and Beauty), is huddled at the back of the party, casting healing spells as quickly as they can. You can equip four spells at a time, and swap between them by either clicking the one you want, or with number keys 1 – 4. Then you click on the relevant party member. This is one of those games that’s perfectly suited to a keyboard, because I’m struggling to think how you’d map it effectively to consoles – switching between spells isn’t a matter of skill, it’s muscle memory and speed. For the most part, it’s fun and frantic, though the slight lag between switching spells can get your party killed if you aren’t careful.
It’s not just unlimited healing, though – you have a mana bar to keep an eye on, and various buffs to keep your party out of trouble, and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed in a fight. While Healer’s Quest is incredibly tongue in cheek with its humour, taking jabs at fantasy tropes and microtransactions alike, boss fights and enemy encounters can get annoying quickly. If it’s just a horde of enemies that simply attack you with physical damage, those aren’t too much of a problem if you’re quick on the draw – the problems start happening when the enemies start chucking abnormal statuses at you.
You have one spell that can cure abnormal status effects, and that spell will quickly become your best friend; Remedy. It heals pretty much anything, costs little to cast, and doesn’t have a particularly long cool down time. The one massive downside is that, although you can upgrade spells with Magic Stars (which you get a handful of each time you level up), you can’t upgrade Remedy to hit more than one ally at a time, so if your party rocks up and immediately gets hit with a Poison spell, there’s a very good chance at least one party member is going to die if they don’t have much HP, so that’s pretty much everyone except Tanky. It got to the point where I was bribing my way out of fights (which is a great mechanic considering Flee consistently respawns enemies when you’ve traveled a few steps away from the battle) because it wasn’t worth the XP to keep trying.
This kind of thing was the only real problem I had with Healer’s Quest – a few areas don’t feel as fleshed out as they really could be. Some areas, like picking your healer’s appearance and alignment, and the fact that your game automatically saves when you’re on the world map, are great, because they’re designed to make playing that bit smoother and much more interesting, thanks to foresight. The plot, though basic, is solid and silly, and the characters are delightfully poking fun at archetypes, blatantly self aware, and as the trailer itself says, total jerks, though the jokes do get a tad repetitive. The healing being the core of the gameplay works well, because it’s not frustrating to maintain, and relies on the player being good at their jobs.
The buffs, on the other hand, are useful in theory, but not so much in gameplay. Immune, for example, is essential for one of the later midboss fights, but initially only lasts six seconds, and can be upgraded to twenty, so you’re constantly juggling keeping your party alive with spamming Immune. The problem here is that because enemies consistently deal so much damage, you barely have time to keep refreshing Immune before they get knocked out of the fight. Other buffs like Stoneskin and Strength can’t be upgraded beyond around ten seconds or so, and while I appreciate that the six second thing is meant to imitate a turn in D&D, it’s really impractical for gameplay; I wound up ignoring them.
This was also the issue with mana – it runs down very quickly when you’re spamming higher level spells all over the place, and you really don’t have a lot of time to cast Meditate to recoup it, since about half a second later, Grumpy’s down to 3 HP again, and the Life spells casts a decent chunk of mana to cast. I’m not sure if it’s the debuffs or the characters’ defences that need tweaking – while you can rejig weapons and accessories to up or lower stats, there’s no core mechanic for this aside from gaining damage strength when you level up.
Overall, though? This game is great fun, and an interesting take on the Western RPG genre – it’s short and sweet, with my playthrough finishing at just over six hours, but it suits the pace perfectly, and there’s scope for multiple playthroughs, since you’ll get a different ability depending on your alignment. Barring the slight frustrations, I absolutely recommend it for some spellcasting fun.
- A lighthearted, slightly sarcastic plot
- Playing as a healer is actually fun
- Gorgeous watercolour backgrounds, a catchy soundtrack, and their Facebook page is hilarious
- It’s easy to get overwhelmed in battle due to unbalanced machanics
Healer’s Quest is as yet unrated by PEGI/ESRB, but I’d say because of the swearing and slightly bawdy jokes, stick to 15+.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.