In the past few years, I started to choose a support rather than a tank or a berserker-like character in any game that gave me the chance. After countless of deaths in Overwatch, I thought that, perhaps, starting to play as Mercy often would at least seem like an attempt to lower my stress during matches. “If nobody else is going to heal, I’ll do it”, said to myself many times. Of course, this leads to a greater responsibility, and the anecdotes I can recall during after many hours playing as the guardian angel are reflected in Healer’s Quest from the very first minutes. We aren’t always lucky enough to have a team that actually wants to cooperate.
Healer’s Quest introduces a classic, cliche-eastic party: a barbarian, a knight, an archer and a mage. The main character, destined to healing wounds and keeping everyone on their feet as the healer, has to take care of their stupidity at all times. These aren’t the most lucid teammates one could hope for, and we can’t do nothing to prevent them from acting on their own. We can only use a set of skills to keep their health bars as filled as possible. But, surprisingly, there are more rules to consider, and a whole lot more variety that it initially showcases.
Players start their adventures by creating their own healer, choosing between a number of appearance options and karma, which grants a permanent stat or action bonus depending on your alignment. You start with only a handful of skills that are explained to you throughout the tutorial, such as the classic healing spell, a protective barrier or, later on, restoration to grant auto healing for a couple of seconds in one party member. The mana pool is the only tool at the healer’s disposal, and their closest companion throughout the game.
But what’s interesting it’s the depth you can dive into later on. There is a massive skill tree to upgrade or add variants to your abilities, reducing the cooldown for special abilities or gaining permanent stats buffs. The best part is that our healer can learn up to 18 different spells, but only select four at a time, which grants a lot of room to experiment with different combinations.
Skill trees are not the only thing that Healer’s Quest hides in plain sight. The story around this anonymous healer is surprisingly funny and well paced. You can find a number of modern references and jokes about the healing class and RPGs in general, overly sexist party members and an innocent humour all around. There are some unexpected situations that, sadly, we aren’t used to seeing in many modern games.
Healer’s Quest has been in development for a few years now, following a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2016. Pablo Coma, the only mind behind the project’s studio Rablo Games, worked in Smurfs games and composed the OST for the Fallout: New Vegas mod ‘Autumn Leaves’. Both the humor and musical influences can be sensed from the very beginning, and are key for the experience.
It’s refreshing to see a game like this coming out in 2018, especially when indies tend to focus on roguelike or platforming experiences, or titles in the genre look to be the most ambitious RPG out there, perhaps without realizing how sometimes less than do much more. In Healer’s Quest the art style might not showcase everything that is underneath, but it’s worth to dive in and enjoy an innocent, yet engaging story.