Instead of doing the work I was supposed to be doing or stuffing myself with chocolate eggs over Easter, I’ve been playing Great Hero’s Beard, from One Shark, on the PC, via Steam. That’s a lot of commas.
In a far distant land, Doors Of Insanity was reviewed on these very pages and through sheer laziness of creative writing, I was insane for it. Addictive gameplay, endless runs, Fleischer-inspired illustrations and retro beats had me at, err.. hello.
With the best of intentions, I planned to go through the developer’s library. When an attempt at saying ‘ello, your game was brilliant, fell on deaf ears, I got discouraged/distracted, and the catalogue was put on the back burner for when time permitted. But it never does, so seeing the game show up for 50p, thought why not?
Great Hero’s Beard is a funny game, not necessarily ‘haha’, but it might have you question ‘what am I playing and why?’. That’s not because it’s difficult to determine what kind of genre it fits into – it’s err… a turn-based hack and slash RPG? Sort of. Sure, combat is turned-based, but you have zero input as Great Hero’s Beard is on rails.
You play Turgut and set out on a quest to become a legend in the world of facial hair. Your input as the player is more as a personal assistant, as you select the load-out for Turgut, invest in his skills and stats, and finally produce a recce list on where to go next. When it comes to the battle, you watch until the end – be that the win or death.
Turgut will appear on the left of the screen and the enemies to the right. There aren’t any grids, inventory lists or spells. Your options, other than spectating, are to leave the match, or if you’ve already played the level and simply grinding, speed it up. A health bar will show his HP in red; the yellow gauge is XP, with your current level in the bottom right, the wave number in the top right. That’s it.
For stats you have attack, attack speed, critical damage, HP and defence. The latter was a little confusing at first and felt like a duplication as there isn’t an individual gauge on screen for armour. Instead, it acts as a luxury toilet roll that provides padding and reduces any mishaps. They’re all self-explanatory, but the attack speed is well worth it as it speeds up the number of hits Turgut performs without being a detriment to power.
Skills are much more specific and split into five offensive approaches, the other five defensive. This includes an AOE move (random, but the higher the percentage… work it out), health regeneration, striking enemies with lighting and reincarnation. There are five tiers, and you gain a skill stat every three levels, a standard stat every level.
Finally, you have an inventory but not in the conventional sense. Each wave gives loot, regardless if you win, and you can monitor the stats and wear the gear based on your playstyle. Some may provide a boost to HP, others an increase to critical damage likelihood. There are four slots; head, shoulders, knees and toes. Well, in a way, yes, but there are five for clothing, one for your weapon, another for a shield.
Each time you fuse an item at your base, it fills a gauge to grant you stat boots or new gear – often ranked on rarity, i.e. rare, epic, legendary, etc… And that’s all there is to it. Thanks for reading. Byeeeee.
But really, that’s all there is to Great Hero’s Beard, and the above doesn’t put it in a good light, but I completed my first run in one sitting, only to restart the process once more. It was not because I finished the game or gave up, but there’s a level cap where the gauge doesn’t fill as fast. From here, you have the option to retire, losing all your stats and goods but being granted an XP multiplier and so on.
There are also princesses to rescue who will return the favour by being a supporting character by the third or fourth reset. Their levels can be improved too, albeit a slower one. However, their perks include improved drops and healing, so they can take you way past that 100 level cap and beat the King with a 1,000,000 attack. Beat in mind that Turgut’s health was around 66,000 at level 110 on my second run.
This sounds very much like one of those endless paywalls games, purchasing some gems to improve your performance (I have a story about one of those games that I may write later – 40+ hours wasted). Still, Great Hero’s Beard is NOT one of those games. You pay for it, the deed is done, and if 50p or even the full price makes you shiver, perhaps you should go for a career in banking, as it’s money well spent.
This was a joy to watch with the same visual flair and a soundtrack like Doors of Insanity. Yes, watching a cartoon or anime would offer a bit more depth if I was up for a bit of voyeurism, but Great Hero’s Beard made me feel I was managing my time well. I could multitask, writing this review while starting a third run, finish binge-watching Ash Vs Evil Dead, plus I can confidently say I’ve been enjoying my Easter weekend without rotting my teeth. Just maybe my brain.
Ridiculously repetitive, a lack of interaction, grinding one level after the next with no input to the turn-based system, Great Hero’s Beard has been brilliant, and I’ve enjoyed every addictive minute of it. Whether it has the same satisfaction of investing as much time to say something like Dark Souls, you can decide for yourself, but if you’re up for a grind without being put on a list, have a sneaky sneaky at it. You can’t even get DLC for the price!