This creation from Russian (Yes, Russian!) developer Cats Who Play certainly carries a distinct and very bright visual style. Its cell shaded nature is very pleasing on the eye and the game even has its own physics engine in which barrels and other scenery can be smashed to bits. However, from the opening cut scene it’s evident that the voice work is a little off. The main characters – more on them in a bit – don’t sound too bad but there are many, many minor characters that just sound...weird. It’s hard to decide if this is a deliberate move – perhaps based on the style of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Nee!) – Or if it’s just the voice artists providing poor accents. Three Heroes does aim to be humorous but these accents do get annoying very quickly.
However, this is nothing compared to the text subtitles which are full of spelling errors, so fans of the correct use of the English language may struggle with this. Again, Three Heroes is from Russia but it is difficult to get around the numerous spelling errors leaving the game feeling somewhat unpolished.
Unfortunately, the basic story doesn’t exactly make up for these issues. One of our Three Heroes – Steve Irwin lookalike and archer Alesha – catches bandits outside his home and decides he and his two buddies – strong man Dobryna and even stronger man Ilya – must rid Medieval Russia of all of the evil bandits, thieves and robbers...and there are a lot of them to get rid of in this mission based adventure. Unfortunately the combat feels rather like a chore in the early parts of the game because the Three Heroes don’t have much in the way of abilities at this point. Heck, Alesha can’t even properly aim at a man standing four feet in front of him without missing four times in the very first mission! Thankfully the combat does improve as our heroes’ level up and gain new abilities. A nice feature of combat is the player can switch between the three heroes at any point and utilise their individual skills. For example, while Alesha is good at taking out enemies from afar with his bow he’s useless at close combat. On the other hand Ilya is massively powerful and excellent going toe to toe even with groups of enemies – unfortunately he also makes a Team Fortress Heavy look like a champion sprinter. When not being controlled by the player the two remaining heroes still help out in combat but the ‘chosen’ hero will be doing most of the work. Once the characters are past the early levels the combat may still be slightly basic but the abilities they learn (through a skill tree) make it entertaining enough.
The missions on the other hand they are not so entertaining and are a bit simple. A mini-map of the level displays any available tasks which fall into six basic categories. Destinations that need to be reached, People that need to be talked to, People that need to be escorted, items that need to be picked up, areas that need to be cleared of enemies and areas marked ‘Pay Attention’ can either signify somewhere the player should go to or avoid. Escort missions can be frustrating because NPC AI is often suicidal while the clear up missions offer the most variety but even this is limited. This will usually involve Dobryna having to use his special jump ability to get somewhere or Alesha shooting something with an arrow. There are some missions that are made a bit more interesting through having the three heroes split up to perform individual tasks but these still tend to lean towards more of the same. Of course being an RPG some of these are optional side quests but if you fail one of these its game over which is frustrating.
Fairy Tales: Three Heroes is certainly not a bad game and it looks nice. It doesn’t have any major flaws but little ones such as voice acting, spelling errors, and basic repetitive missions do snowball and make this production from Cats Who Play less enjoyable than it could have been. However, if you can get fast all of these flaws it is enjoyable enough and it certainly offers something different to anything else available at the moment. So hey, if you can enjoy this despite this, maybe you can enjoy the flawed company of that person you really fancy after all.
(Originally written for Game-Debate)