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Contains heroes.z5
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links. (Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.)
as entered in 2001 Competition
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
walkthrough for the Thief chapter
comment on the walkthroughs
walkthrough for the Royalty chapter
walkthrough for the Enchanter chapter
walkthrough for the Adventurer chapter
walkthrough for the Dragon chapter
The full story
The author's explanation of the backstory of the game. Warning: contains "massive spoilers."

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by Sean Barrett


(based on 25 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

"A most traditional CRPG experience." [--blurb from Competition Aught-One]

Game Details


Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Use of Medium - 2001 XYZZY Awards

3rd Place - 7th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2001)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

Five stories in a fantasy city setting. You play five stock fantasy characters, each pursuing the same goal, but with different abilities and limitations and (most interestingly) different ways of perceiving the world. You'll have to see things from everyone's perspective to understand what has happened and what is about to happen, and even then, the details of the backstory can be confusing. Good design and puzzles. Each chapter can in theory be solved alone, but each contains information that makes other chapters easier; it's suggested that you switch between characters frequently.

-- Carl Muckenhoupt

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

The intersection of landscape and character in IF is a highly fertile one, and Heroes reaps a great harvest from it... [T]he game's gimmick is this: set up a fairly simple landscape and a basic goal, then allow the player a choice of five viewpoint characters, each of which share the landscape and goal...

I can't say enough about how much I loved this. Because the characters are each limited to their own viewpoints, but we are able to see them all, the game gives us a far more complete and interesting picture of the area than any single viewpoint could provide. In addition, because we have seen the area through other eyes, we gain insight into the viewpoint character by noticing what that character does and doesn't observe.
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It's a good game, but one that over-reaches -- if it wouldn't have tried to make the player go through all five possibilities, but instead just offered them as alternates, it would have worked much better. And I'd advise anyone who tries it to take it that way -- play the game in your one or two favorite flavors, ignoring the rest. That way, you'll be playing a solid, enjoyable game, that someone worked extra-hard on to provide additional paths to, but you don't need to work extra hard just to see them.
-- Eytan Zweig
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Technically and artistically, Heroes succeeds admirably; the few bugs in the competition release appear to have been cleaned up, and the POV-shift is nicely done. The game does commit some design sins, but I appreciated the artistry of the multiple perspectives and the layered plot sufficiently that I gave it an 8 in this year’s competition.
-- Duncan Stevens
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The big picture in Heroes is a complex one and probably won't be easily inferred by many except the most perceptive. The weaving of the story is not direct or blatant. Instead, interesting facts and tidbits are sprinkled throughout each character's prologue and epilogue; the interactions they have with other NPCs; and the various scenery, room, and object descriptions that change with each new player viewpoint.
-- Francesco Bova
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Number of Reviews: 3
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Wonderful D&D feel; same game with 5 choices for NPC, February 4, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

This is one of my favorites. You play as one of four characters who stole a gem from a dragon, and then lost it. You want to get it back. You can also be the dragon.

There is the adventurer, who plays as a Zork-type PC, gathering items and chatting with guards; the thief, who remains hidden and has special tools; the wizard, who can use spells; and the royal, who can command everyone and has an entourage. The dragon does, you know, dragon things.

The game is hard, but you can switch between characters at any time, and one character can see things that will help another.

Location and object descriptions are different with each character, giving the game a really varied feel.

By far, this game is the closest to a straight-up D&D type setting, which I love.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Five in one, five as one, May 10, 2024

Heroes is a delightful old-school fantasy-style work that took 3rd place in the 2001 IF Comp (following All Roads and Moments Out of Time) and received XYZZY nominations (but not wins) for Best Setting and Best Use of Medium. Much has been written in other reviews about what motivated these nominations: the game's novel mechanic (the ability to play through a scenario as five different PCs) and the quality of the writing, which captures the feel of an RPG like Dungeons & Dragons while structuring gameplay via tropes common to Infocom's works.

The prose and puzzle design are both of very good quality, working together to draw the player into the mindset of each PC and develop the story in a nonlinear fashion as the player moves through the sequence of roles. The framing story is more suggested than explained, and on careful review it doesn't seem to quite hang together as a unified whole; certain facts gathered through direct observation and hearsay are in contradiction with each other. It hardly matters, anyway, because the back story largely concerns two characters that are known by each PC but who share very little "screen time" between them. On the whole the framing story feels grafted on, but it can be ignored in order to focus on and enjoy the various vignettes.

The variety of play styles presented are in general well-supported by the mechanics of the implementation in addition to the writing. Of the five stories, I found the story of the enchanter to be the most well-designed in terms of puzzle structure. It feels the most "meaty" of all of the scenarios, too, and I wished that the other four had been developed to that level of depth. From a technical standpoint, the story of the thief was also quite interesting -- a strict but game-appropriate inventory limit is offset by the fact that the PC carries various items of equipment tucked away on his person so that they are always available for use. As another reviewer noted, the premise of the "royal" PC's scenario is quite funny; I actually laughed aloud as the gaggle of mostly useless sycophants began to accumulate. This does end up being among the weaker scenarios, however, presumably because developing proper puzzles for it would have involved a substantial subsystem around NPC interaction and knowledge.

Although Barrett's The Weapon (released the same year) is one of the most polished and bug-free games I've come across, Heroes is not crafted to that standard. I encountered several instances in which reasonable synonyms for commands were not implemented (e.g. (Spoiler - click to show)you can >GET X WITH Y but not >PICK UP X WITH Y), and a few bugs of the type that should have been caught with testing (e.g. (Spoiler - click to show)the stomachful of acid that can be dropped and picked up like any normal item). Twice I resorted to the walkthroughs; once was for a guess-the-verb/syntax scenario, and once was for a puzzle whose fairness is arguable. ((Spoiler - click to show)The barrel in the pawn shop is made of metal. Only one of the five PCs will notice this, and not the one for whom it is the most salient fact.)

Despite these rough spots, I found this game to be very entertaining. The effort of keeping the "same" scenario fresh through five different versions of the key events was not trivial, but the work paid off. After completing any two of the scenarios, you are likely to be compelled to play the rest. Perhaps the enchantment of the key McGuffin -- a gem which engenders a "compulsion beyond what its mere beauty should produce" -- works upon we players as well as the PCs.

(A technical note: A slight bug can cause the initial text after "[press any key]" prompts to be overwritten by the status line. This significantly impacts the epilogue text at the end of the game. The bug is negated by the Bocfel interpreter included with Gargoyle, so I recommend that interpreter be used to play this game.)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Love this!, February 17, 2018
by Yvette Martin (Mount Isa, Australia)
Related reviews: Help block bug error

Have just started playing Heroes and I love the concept of 5 perspectives!
However, I have reached a block and am looking for help!
The story ended abruptly saying: compass library error (6,0) fatal error: stack overflow.
Did I lose? Or is this a bug?
Please help!

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Heroes on IFDB

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The following polls include votes for Heroes:

Multiple point-of-view characters by Joan
Interested in games where you swap between different characters' heads (whether at will or at specific points in the story), not games where a single main character possesses different bodies or games that play with different...

Non-human Perspectives by Rhetta_Lynnea
I'm looking for IF narrated by aliens, animals, anything.

Unreliable narrators by verityvirtue
I'm interested in games which hinge on the 'unreliable narrator', from amnesia to a plain distorted worldview. The more this distortion affects the storyline, the better.

See all polls with votes for this game

This is version 9 of this page, edited by OtisTDog on 9 May 2024 at 3:45pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page