Review – Songs For a Hero

As previously mentioned in my Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure review, I reasoned that games based on YouTubers, podcasters, and overall internet celebrities are equivalent to what licensed movie tie-ins used to be in the 90’s and 2000’s. They’re the go-to idea pool whenever trying to make a game based off a brand known by millions of people. Songs For a Hero: A Lenda do Herói (“The hero’s legend” in Portuguese) is the brand new inclusion to the list.

This game was co-developed and endorsed by the Rio de Janeiro-based YouTuber duo, Castro Brothers; a comedic channel that might not sound like something worth noting if you’re not a lusophone, but a big deal among Brazilian internet users. The question is, what to expect from a game like this? Is it something worth giving a crap about, like 99Vidas, or just a shameless cash grab, like Race With Ryan?

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Why, thank you. I wish most protagonists were as polite as you.

Thankfully, it’s the former, even though it doesn’t sound like that on paper. At its core, Songs For a Hero is a pretty standard 2D platformer just like the dozens, if not hundreds of those released ever since the SNES era. It’s a simple game in which you control a young knight who ventures through forests, caves, and other standard fantasy landscapes in order to rescue a princess, all while solving a few puzzles and defeating a lot of enemies and some bosses. Along the way, you’ll be able to collect coins and spend them on upgrades in a Shovel Knight-ish hub town, as well as unveil some hidden treasure that will grant you more life or even some extra abilities, such as invisibility or pyrokinesis.

At first I was thinking that was going to be all Songs For a Hero would have to offer. A finely crafted 2D platformer with nothing in its favor besides the really well-designed levels, but also not a single flaw to point it out. More or less like Kemono Heroes, except for the fact that it’s not available on the Switch, a console made for smaller titles like this one. But if you’ve paid attention to the beginning of the previous paragraph, you’ll know that I actually liked this game. The secret to Songs For a Hero‘s success lies in two other things: its soundtrack and its meta sense of humor.

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There are a few boss battles in here. They aren’t very tough, but they are a lot more challenging than the rest of the game.

The weird (and best) thing about Songs For a Hero is that it’s a musical. Yep, you read that right. This game might play like a 2D platformer and look like a 2D platformer, but at the end of the day it’s also a “playable musical” of sorts. Your protagonist will sing his heart out throughout the entire game, even though he is clearly not the best singer in the world. He will sing off key more often than not, but the second thing I liked the most about Songs For a Hero more or less validates his lack of singing skills.

This is a song co-developed and endorsed by comedians, so this is obviously a comedic game at its core. The main theme of Songs For a Hero is how self-aware it is. It knows it’s the most cliché platformer out there, and even though some of its jokes/lyrics don’t land, occasionally sounding just like the kind of crap you’d find in a Bubsy game, I chuckled pretty often with it. The rhymes are simple yet endearing, with the protagonist singing about what he sees and why some of things he’s witnessing make no sense whatsoever, such as floating platforms, coins spawning from the corpse of a defeated enemy, a bottomless pit inside a tree, and so on.

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That’s rude.

It works. It makes you want to play the game until the very end, and given how the lyrics are generated depending on what’s happening onscreen and the way you’re playing, it makes you want to replay some of the levels just to see what else the protagonist will sing about. The game also encourages replayability by featuring a handful of secret items hidden behind obstacles that can only be solved after acquiring a specific item a few levels later. I know, not exactly groundbreaking, but I do appreciate the effort. I did make me want to go back to some previous levels, so I guess it worked, right?

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That would explain a lot.

Songs For a Hero is the kind of game that might not impress you with its gameplay and visuals, but will certainly win you over with its funny lyrics and overall cute sense of humor. You can definitely see that the developers (and the YouTubers helping out with the project) gave everything they got by making the game as interesting as possible with the limited resources they had. Just like I say with most retro-inspired 2D platformers released on Steam, I think this would have been a better fit for the Switch, but I still think it’s worth giving a shot on PC. This is the kind of game you have played countless times before, but it’s still polished and charming enough to warrant a purchase.

 

Graphics: 7.0

Cute, well-animated, although a bit too basic and with a lot of reused assets. It does feature a surprisingly good lighting system for a pixel art game, however.

Gameplay: 8.0

Not exactly the most imaginative of 2D platforming control schemes, but it’s solid and responsive as it should be. It’s an easy game to pick up and play. The level design is also pretty good.

Sound: 9.0

This is a musical game, so of course the soundtrack has to be on point. The protagonist isn’t the best singer in the world, but the funny lyrics and the overall self-aware nature of the game make his voice a perfect fit.

Fun Factor: 7.5

This is by no means a revolutionary title, but it’s really competent in terms of level design, replayability, and overall polish. The sense of humor and the self-aware lyrics are the reason you will want to play this game until the very end.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Songs For a Hero is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Songs For a Hero was provided by the publisher.