Review by Jen
Rent-A-Hero was a pig in a pokeI had ordered it
from England without knowing anything about it other than that
it was an adventure game. The cover art was pretty garish, so
I was kind of reluctant to play it, but I figured what the hell
and tried it anyway. Boy, was I in for a treat. Rent-A-Hero
is an example of adventure game as art.
The plot is yet another hackneyed retelling of the ultimate battle
between good and evil. You, as Rodrigo, rent out your services
to rescue princesses. Unfortunately, there's not much money in
it, and the other rental heroes get much better jobs than you.
Fortunately for you, a dwarf needs someone to find his wife, and
all of the other heroes are completely booked up, so you get the
job by default. Well, finding the dwarf's wife is just the beginning
of your quest to defeat the ultimate evil mentioned above and
save the world. While the plot is tried and true, it is rendered
in a refreshing manner.
The graphics in Rent-A-Hero are, simply put, stunning.
In fact, I wanted to use all of my multitudes of screenshots because
I had such a hard time choosing a few. The cutscenes are breathtaking,
and the care that was taken in drawing the backgrounds was very
evident. It consists of 3D characters on 2D backgrounds, in what
the developers call 2.5D. Not since The Neverhood have
I seen a game that was as pleasurable just to watch, and the backgrounds
were at least as good as those in the Broken Sword games.
The characters were drawn in such a way that they had, well, character,
and even the ugly ones were extremely appealing. I could gush
for another couple of paragraphs about the beauty of this game,
but then I'd have to get out my thesaurus to find new words for
fantastic, and it's not worth the effort, so just take a look
at the screenshots above to get a taste for yourself.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward. You click on stuff to interact
with it in whatever way, be it speaking or using or picking up,
and you usually have a small inventory, although this is not what
I would call an inventory-oriented game. There is also a fair
bit of conversation, but mostly there is figuring stuff out. All
of the puzzles are integrated into the plot to the extent that
you don't really realize you are even doing puzzles. The game
is pretty easy for the seasoned adventurer, which is a big minus
for me because I really didn't want it to end quite so soon. The
only walkthrough I could find on the Internet is in German, which
I don't speak, so I had to actually muddle through the whole game
myself without any hints, in what must be a first for me. I was
kind of proud of myself, but in reality, if you get stuck, you
can just go look at everything and click on everything again and
something's bound to change. One other noteworthy feature: the
game didn't crash once, even with all of my TSRs running in the
background, and you can even Alt-Tab to another program. Bug-free!
What a novel concept!
The music is fantastic. It was recorded by the Vienna Philharmonic
Orchestra, and each piece exactly suits its scene. There is enough
variety and the pieces are long enough that the music never gets
old, and I lingered in a couple of spots just to listen a bit
Rent-A-Hero was originally produced in German and later
translated to English, and the voice acting was, surprisingly
enough, perfect, even down to the lip-synching being, well, in
sync. Rodrigo, the hero, was a nice-guy, well-meaning-but-nevertheless-bumbling,
mild-mannered Milquetoast sort of character, bringing to mind
the English actor Hugh Grant. Usually, in even the finest of adventure
games (as well as Disney animated features), there is always at
least one character that is totally over the topnot so in
Rent-A-Hero (a welcome relief to your easily annoyed reviewer).
Sound effects were also perfectbut hard to describe in
this or any review. I might just start omitting any discussion
of sound effects in my future reviews, but this is the part where
the sound effects are traditionally discussed so I guess I am
fulfilling my mission.
All in all, this is the nicest game I have had the pleasure to
play in quite some time, and it was a welcome surprise in this
drought of adventure games. The only major drawbacks were that
it was too short and too easy. However, it would be a good introduction
to adventure gaming for those who have never tried it before.
It's rated for all ages, but there is one crude synonym for "feces"
and one very brief sex scene (which could probably be avoided
by the wary prude).
Release Date: July 1999
Four Fat Chicks Links
Pentium 133 MHz processor
16 MB RAM
2 MB graphics card
6X CD-ROM drive
DirectX 6.0 (included)
Where to Find It