Help the Hero!
Heroes are overrated. Sure they take care of your odd rampaging Robo-Ogre, but they tend to be pretty full of themselves, and in general their inventories tend to be messier than my grandmother's handbag. (Is... is this lint on this Werther's Original or.. ?) Fortunately, you don't need organisational skills when you have cheap labour, and that's where you come in! Just imagine; all the menial tasks your heart desires with none of that pesky recognition or appreciation junk! Such is the case in Help the Hero from Antony Lavalle and Armor Games' super team of talent. In this quirky puzzle game, you follow in the hero's footsteps (literally) and make sure the great(?) and honorable(?!) Count Thrashwoode is properly outfitted for battle by gathering up all the treasure he uncovers.
RPG subordinates these days seem to be taking a cue from Leon Scott Kennedy circa Los Plagas, because all item management is handled by arranging as many items as you can on a grid that represents the hero's limited inventory space. As your hero adventures, he gathers items that scroll by at the bottom of the screen; click and drag them to your inventory, and use the [arrow] keys to rotate the item while you're holding it until you can figure out a way to fit it in. You likely won't be able to carry everything he finds, so try to prioritize based on item type and what you know about the monster he'll be coming up against. Before battle, you'll be given a chance to outfit your hero with the equipment he's gathered, boosting various stats, or sell off what you don't need to upgrade the hero's number of equipment slots or inventory space. The Count fights automatically, but his success depends on whether you've chosen the proper types of items to equip him with.
With its stellar presentation and clever premise, Help the Hero is a welcome change from the flood of samey games out there. From the passive-aggressive remarks made by the apprentice, to the old-timey theatrical soundtrack, and to the quirky character designs its a joy to behold on virtually every level. (Although you will feel somewhat cheated the first time the curtain falls on a battle.) Unfortunately, once you've played the first stage, you've basically seen everything the game has to offer apart from a few enemy design and a snarky comment or two. There's a lack of variety to the gameplay that means the longer levels get, the more they seem to drag, and it feels like throwing in a different sort of minigame in there, or even just altering the background with each stage so that you have something to look at, would have done a lot to keep the game feeling fresh. Still, it's a clever take on an RPG puzzle game, and a peek behind the curtains at what would probably be a pretty handy feature. (Do you know how much I would pay for an assistant like that for Commander Shepherd and crew?!)