March 25, 2017

Review: Hierofanía 2

Recently, we were contacted by an Argentinian game developer called Ludeshka, who described her most recent visual novel, Hierofanía 2, and asked if we’d like to give it a review. From her description it certainly seemed like something we’d be interested in, so I checked it out, and I’m very glad that I did!

Hierofanía 2 is, as the name suggests, a sequel, and, whilst it doesn’t seem necessary to play the original Hierofanía in order to enjoy the sequel, doing so will provide a deeper sense of the world building that is one of the most enjoyable parts of both games. The series is set in a fantasy world, where each faction pledges themselves to one of a pantheon of gods, who return the favour by lending them a certain set of supernatural abilities. This manifestation is what “Hierofanía” means, and is central to this world.

However, in the original Hierofanía, our main character, Crocket, is a Knight of Utrecht – but the god Utrecht has not lent their power to the Knights for many years and no one seems to know why. Accordingly, the game explores themes of faith, which ties into a larger story that asks the player to think about trust and loyalty. There are seven endings, and much of what influences them is who you decide are your closest allies. And there is a strong motivation to experiment to learn the secrets of the game and its characters through different endings.

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                                                                                         Hierofanía

Hierofanía sets the stage well, but Hierofanía 2 builds upon it in a way that is both accessible to those who haven’t played the original Hierofanía and that constitutes a nice improvement for those who have. Every area of the game has more polish, whether it be story, world building, or art, as we meet our new protagonist, Queen Caramela, and decide how she will rule in these tricky times.

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                                                                           Caramela in Hierofanía 2.

Caramela is facing issues both large and small. The Goddess of the Waves, which once watched over her fishing based Queendom of Currents, is dead. War is breaking out in a neighbouring kingdom, and her advisors can’t agree on what to do about it. She is trying to live up to the legacy that her mother left, but that’s hard enough for any seventeen year old, let alone one who is trying to rule. Then, of course, there are the handmaidens fussing over her hair, the regent Senteltje demanding her attention in any number of political matters, and Rotten Bastian won’t leave her alone.

It’s these characters and others who make up the vibrant and diverse cast that really bring  the world of Hierofanía 2 to life. The fantasy world is wonderful, but the individuals who populate it make it feel recognisable and meaningful, whilst also being vehicles for exploring real world issues such as discrimination based upon issues like illness and sexuality.

As with the original Hierofanía, which ending you find depends largely on which characters you choose to interact with most and how you treat them, though it’s harder in this game to see where your seemingly unrelated choices are leading you. Accordingly, I felt my first ending in Hierofanía 2 was rather abrupt, but exploring for more endings was satisfying. Moreover, each ending has a brief epilogue that calls back to the full explanation of events you can receive at the end of the original game. And after one ending (which I imagine is the “best” ending, though I did not find every single one) there is an extended epilogue which goes just a little further into the overarching story that connects the two games, and certainly piqued my interest for any further instalments.

You can explore the world of Hierofanía in the original game here, and in the sequel here. Both are totally free to play and deserve your time, especially if you’re into intriguing, character driven fantasy stories and/or supporting small, independent game developers. You can also find the creator on Tumblr at sillyracoonknight.

Jay
About Jay 18 Articles
Writer, gamer, human, though not necessarily in that order. Both happiest and at my most critical with a controller in my hand. You can email me at jayplaysthings@gmail.com.
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