Hero & Daughter+ is one of those games that is difficult to describe and make sound appealing. A game where a hero is stuck at level one, unable to improve at all, and forced to rely on girls summoned to help him. Girls from, and I quote, “the daydreams of the game’s creator”. It all sounds a bit trashy and fanservicey. The fact that it’s an RPG Maker game also helped to put me off, as I generally don’t have a high opinion of games made by that program – with a few exceptions, they all tend to look the same.

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The first few minutes with the game didn’t help my opinion very much. I couldn’t get past the pictures, sprites, even text fonts and layouts, all obviously taken straight from RPG Maker. Compared to something like Aveyond 4, Hero & Daughter+ looks very shallow at first glance. I wasn’t sure what I was going to write for this game.

But…

I’ve played a bit more of it since then and there are some particularly interesting features here which add a great deal of depth. It’s not on the level of Aveyond – which was at an incredibly high level already – but it’s also not the shallow slapped-together RPG Maker game I was afraid it would be. Dare I say it, I actually found myself enjoying it.

Looks like quite a small map for a game like this. Maybe there's more?

Looks like quite a small map for a game like this. Maybe there’s more?

The story is quite unique. A typical JRPG-type hero is asked by a king to save the land from an evil dark lord. The thing is, he’s level 99 (the characters know they’re in a game and will readily talk about levels and stats) and he decides he’s done enough world saving and tells the king where to shove it. The king is understandably not pleased and punishes the hero by reducing him to level 1. Not only that, the king makes it impossible for the hero to gain any levels, so now he’s unable to fight even the smallest battles.

Help is at hand however, as a kindly old magician takes pity on him and decides to give him assistance… in the form of girls of various shapes, sizes, colours, abilities and stereotypes. They are also able to level up, and so Ralph – for that is the hero’s name – is forced to accept their help. Although quite where exactly the “Daughter” part of the “Hero & Daughter” title comes from is still a bit of a mystery.

Desperately trying not to use the word Moe...whoops!

Desperately trying not to use the word Moe…whoops!

The game plays like a typical JRPG – move through fields and dungeons, turn based combat, status effects, EXP and rewards – but there are a few twists. As I said, Ralph can’t level up so his EXP is useless to him. He is, however, able to give it to the girls in his party, helping to increase their levels and raising their affection for him. Oh, by the way, did I mention each girl has an affection meter for Ralph? Well they do.

Another feature that I found worked well was the dungeons themselves. Each dungeon has a number of floors with a boss monster at the top, and so you have to work your way up. Each floor looks to be randomly generated, with terrain types, monsters, chests and other NPC characters dotted throughout. Sometimes the placement of chests or the stairs going up don’t quite make sense, but on the whole it’s quite an effective system.

Did you bring the map? I thought you did!

Did you bring the map? No – I thought you did!

The sheer number of girls with different abilities available to summon means that you can tailor your party to your exact needs. There are plenty of items which will boost stats and greatly help in battles. Once I got going I found myself looking forward to the battles. The boss monster at the top of the first dungeon was particularly impressive – a great beast who looked as tough as nails. The majority of the artwork may be taken directly from RPG Maker but some of it looks really good.

One other feature I haven’t done much with is village levelling. The girls you don’t take with you can work to give EXP to your home village, which allows for better items in stores when the levels increase. This is also where you come when you’ve been beaten in battle – there’s no game over screen, instead you keep all your experience and items and you’re even treated to a night time scene – no not that sort – where Ralph will chat to another character in some humorous way.

That rat has no chance.

That rat has no chance.

I still think this game could have been more effective if it wasn’t using default RPG Maker assets, but there is a lot here worth looking at. Looking over some of the feature notes on Steam it offers 10 hours and lots of side quests and activities, including a 9999 floor tower. If it’s all like the first dungeon then it will certainly be worth playing. The pitch of the hero being helped by countless anime fanservice girls could still be off-putting to some though, but if you can get past that you’ll find a well executed RPG combat and dungeon system. Certainly worth it for the price.