The Short of it:
Heroes Rise: The Prodigy a fun, short game (which is reasonable given it's price) that can give you one heck of an adrenaline and emotional rush if you let it. I would also recommend this game (and the series as a whole) to anyone who wishes for more sexuality and gender diversity in the superhero genre. Only down side is the thin line between simple and shallow the game dances on, and the hack job of "romance" implemented as an optional subplot.
The Long of it:
The best thing about The Prodigy, and the Heroes Rise trilogy in all, is that it doesn't reward you for being the writer's idea of a "Hero," but for being consistent in your morals (basically: don't play as a character that's all over the place). While the game does scale this consistency on dichotomies of "lawful" vs. "lawless," "fame" vs. "justice" and "soloist" vs. "team player" none of these scales are mutually exclusive (despite what the color-coded bars imply) to one another or are viewed as inherently wrong: you could have a defensive soloist with the law on your side but have a penchant to showboating, or an offensive team player that distrusts authority but will work for the best of the group. During my first run I felt like my choices really mattered, but I was let down during the rail-roaded chain of events nearing the (only) climax, but it does pick up the ball again near the very end of the final fight, though it may seem railroaded again because unless you have a wishy-washy character the final choice for the fight is practically chosen for you depending on the "lawlessness" vs. "lawfulness" scale.
This wonderful scale falls flat, again, with a shallow story that may only hold a twist or two for people not versed in the cliches of the superhero genre. The first time I played through, I was surprised at some of the late-game twists, despite having read comics since I was eight (but that may be because I myself am trusting), but afterwards it did all seem very droll, such as the main villain's motivation, and what they do to make your character lose faith in the world around them.
It also felt like only a minimal amount of worldbuilding was done as Millenia City wasn't fleshed out (you only get to see about two-to-three areas of the city while it's continually reiterated to be a sprawling metropolis), but the characters within
are very diverse not only in their personalities, but in who they. I enjoyed meeting many of the characters like The Monk and Fistfull from the Millennial Group (the game's version of The Avengers/Justice League), the three choices you have as a sidekick, and others around the Eastern Fringe. Even the villains like the Splice Circle were interesting. But this leads me to yet another of the negative points: The "Romance(s)"
One of the characters in the game is specifically tailored to your character's sexuality and gender: straight male, lesbian, and bisexual heroes whose last partner was female have Fem. Main Interest, while gay males, straight females, and bisexual heroes whose last partner was male get a Masc. Main Interest. I can understand that this is so that every and any characters have the option of a love interest. But this is clunkily done because the game prompts you to input a real life celebrity's name as the sole descriptive of the love interest. It feels creepy because the never let that "descriptive" go
. Every time they describe the character you just get a [celebrity's name] face/hair/eyes ect. ect. This traps the character within the realm of "love interest" and nothing even approaching individuality despite their unique backstory (and by "unique" I mean an actual
plot twist), which is really grating. Especially if the Main Interest ends up female, which adds into the ever-present trend of women being solely present in the superhero genre for titillation and romantic (with creepy under/overtones) fantasy. It also grated on my nerve when the game didn't understand my character's no meant "NO
, I don't want a romance" and I was forced to play out the scene where my character was coerced into going into the love interet's room under false pretenses which was remarkably sexually charged and ended up making me feel angry and creeped, while I was okay with it when I actually wanted
the romance sub-plot.
The game would have done better if the "Main Love Interest" was like the other romantic choice. She's only available if you have a lesbian or female bisexual character, but Jenny Yu, your superhero-witness-protection-program agent,
proves that the writer CAN right a good love interest. Jenny
is her own character with her own motivations and goals. Most importantly, nothing about her changes depending on your choices in Character Creation excluding the possiblity she could be romantically interested in your character. While the reveal she is a romancable option is late game (after the climax), it did feel a bit more holistic, mostly due to the flirty lines interspersed in your character's interactions with her throughout the entire game and not jumping to the "~romance~" (and by that I mean blacked-out sex) after meeting the Main Love Interest not even five chapters prior. If you're planning on playing the full series, and desire to romance anyone, Jenny
is widely preferable the "Main Love Interest" introduced in The Prodigy. This deals mostly with my experience with The Hero Project, Prodigy's sequel in which you can transfer up the Main Character along with their stats and choices, but that is not important to playing The Prodigy as a stand-alone.
What's best about that is that players don't feel obligated to buy the sequel as The Prodigy nicely ties off the main story, along with multiple sub-plot threads. The ending left me with an upbeat, optimistic feeling and a sense of wonder about where my character would go, which is the best way to end a game in my opinion.