Hero Quest was a popular board game released back in the 90s. Essentially Dungeons and Dragons with training wheels, it was a roleplaying game. It was incredibly straight forward, there were only four characters to choose from each with simple yet varying stats and abilities. The actual game itself is more like a board-game incarnation of Diablo.The game is meant to be played with at least two players; one person is assigned the dungeon master and the other chooses a hero to play as.
The board game was a hell of a lot of fun, and was a great roleplaying experience for those that didn’t have the patience for D&D. The rules of the game were solid, yet unrestrictive. My friends and I often messed about with the rules, changed magic spells around and created our own scenarios and characters. This freeware remake for the PC is a fantastic conversion. I think it captures the essence of the game really well. Partly due to the faithfulness to the original game rules and partly due to the fact that the graphics are made from (I’m guessing) scans of actual game pieces.
While the game characters can be controlled with the keyboard, the game runs much more smoothly using the mouse. Much like the original, you can have up to four hero’s adventuring at once, only in this version there is no need for a dungeon master (or game master, I forget what it’s called). The game is however packed with a scenario creator, which basically gives you the free reign of a dungeon master. The game comes with a campaign to play through, though I think what really makes this game kick-ass is it’s roguelike multilevel dungeon, simply called “The Dungeon”.
The four characters that you can choose from aren’t exactly ground-braking in their originality. There is the mighty Barbarian, the tough-as-nails dwarf, the nimble Elf and the …err… Wizard. This is the only place where the game drops the ball completely; none of the magic spells work. While the use of magic was never the focal point of the game, it was the only thing the Wizard had going for her. It will probably be a disappointment for those who remember the game and loved playing as the Wizard character, but in all fairness a lot of the spells would be a nightmare to get working as a computer game. However even with the absence of magic, the game still retains the atmosphere of the original board game.
There are weapons and armor to equip yourself with as well potions to help you along the way Some items you find on weapon racks throughout the level and others can be found by busting open treasure chests and barrels. Eery now and then there will be a NPC shopkeeper at the beginning of the level from whom you can purchase items from, but he seem to show up at complete random and can’t really be counted on. The enemies in the game range from the lowly goblin right through to the ass-destroying gargoyle. In my experience the mummy seems to be the most stubborn and the biggest pain in the ass. There are also traps around the place which can be disarmed by using the “search” function but I would normally forget to search for anything, especially in the heat of battle. The traps don’t do huge amounts of damage, but they were annoying enough to make me audibly swear at my monitor.
Anyone who remembers Hero Quest from their childhood needs to check this game out. It’s a huge nostalgia trip and a legitimately enjoyable and addictive game in it’s own right. What’s best is that it is freeware, so it won’t cost you a cent. The creators website is also worth a look-see as there have been a few user created scenarios released over the last few years and some of them are also pretty good.