I don’t know about all of you, but I was a pretty big Heroes fan when it was on TV. Yes, even beyond the first season, when the plot was crippled by writer’s strikes and a lack of focus and direction. I always found the characters endearing and I liked this less fantastical take on an X-Men kind of world. Great characters like ‘Horn Rimmed Glasses’ Noah Bennet, his lovely daughter the regenerating cheerleader Claire, the ever dramatic Petrelli family, and especially the boundlessly cheerful and entertaining Hiro Nakamura (My love of Sylar is variable to the season I’m watching). So imagine my (guarded) optimism and hope when a new series was announced in Heroes Reborn!
I haven’t been following the show. I’m a binge watcher, I’ll knock it out in 2 or 3 days when it’s all done. But what I have seen has intrigued me, taking up after the original show ends in a “Brave New World” where super powered individuals are no longer a secret. Taking place after the original series but serving as a prequel to this new series is the game that I’m finally going to talk about: Heroes Reborn: Enigma (Free). A super powered puzzler brought to us by the fine folks at Phosphor Games, who you may recall have also brought us Dark Meadow ($1.99) and Horn ($1.99). As a puzzler, it’s structured exactly like Portal. You, as a young girl with abilities named Dhalia, must use your powers to solve comically elaborate test chambers one after another in a facility called The Quarry before the final act of the game mixes things up.
Borrowing and expanding on a plotline from the show, the antagonistic researcher called Director Mason is using the blood of super powered folks to synthesize a formula that can give anyone abilities. Powers in a syringe. He does this with Dhalia’s sister, Cassie, to give Dhalia some time control abilities in addition to her own telekinesis. No, you don’t have a portal making super power. Using telekinesis to carry boxes and throw balls, a time slowing effect to help you get through hazards and doors, and even a time skip ability that lets you jump between a 2008 and 2014 version of The Quarry at your will, you’ll make your way through the game.
The puzzles themselves are mostly good. You’ll get 2 or 3 brain busters for every 10 levels or so. The other levels can be satisfying as well, but there are definite leaps and falls in the difficulty. The story of the game was written by show creator Tim Kring himself, along with other writers on the new series. And the story and voice acting is generally solid. Though personally, I found it could bog down the pacing. Where Portal almost never makes you sit there and listen to GLaDOS speak, often the beginning and end of the level will feature segments of dialogue that, for me, dragged on too long. I wanted to get straight to the puzzling, but I had to listen to menacing monologues from Mason. The third act of the game is better about this, as the plot takes a legitimately interesting turn.
In your time traveling ability, you’ll jump between the current pristine and future destroyed versions of the facility. Something happens to the facility to cause a series of explosions. I’m going to nitpick a bit here. Most puzzles cannot possibly be solved without jumping forward in time. But how could the non-time traveling scientists possibly plan puzzles in the present day that incorporate time jumping? And Dhalia can only jump between times and places she’s already been or will be in the future. So how did they possibly plan for that? I gave up trying to figure things out at the introduction of quantum time traveling boxes. Anyway, I’m being critical but these are secondary aspects to the gameplay and puzzles, which, as I said, are pretty great overall. Difficulty is raised in later levels when soldiers that will instantly cause you to lose if you enter their cone of vision enter the mix. Not as charming as cute singing turrets but they get the job done!
Though I’ll say, the controls would have been infinitely better with a controller or mouse and keyboard set-up. You tap to move your character. But you also touch the screen a ton to grab items and move the camera, so accidental movement is common. You can turn on a joystick for movement, which I’d definitely recommend, but this doesn’t turn off the touch to move function. The sensitivity of the camera is pretty high at default too, but you can adjust as needed.
The very last level of the game is actually riddled with quick time events, in which you time shift and slow down time when prompted while trying to get away from the exploding facility. Why in the name of Mohinder Suresh wouldn’t I just constantly be slowing down time or trying to find my way out in the future world, where danger is greatly minimized or completely negated? I don’t know. It’s a little goofy seeing such an elaborate and expensive testing facility in the more grounded world of Heroes. It’s not as abstract a world as Portal, and feels out of place, but if you can ignore all that silly window dressing, there’s a good game with great voice acting to enjoy. I’ve been very nitpicky in this review, and I apologize for that. The Unreal 4 graphics look great, I didn’t encounter too many bugs, and it was well worth the 2 or so hours I put into it. Also, there is an action oriented sister (pun intended) game being made called Heroes Reborn: Gemini, which will focus more on the character of Cassie, and that will be found on PC and Consoles sometime soon.