Ensuring that an introduction is nothing but brilliant is crucial to not only successfully establishing tone, theme and story, but also for engrossing and gripping the audience. For example, in a comedy, it is imperative to indicate the type of humour audiences can expect to see. Fortunately, the humorous, touching and incredibly witty Henchman Story has no problem accomplishing this. Not only did it successfully captivate me from the start, but it also let me know that I was about to experience one of the best visual novels I’ve played in a while.
“Henchman Story’s sarcastic, witty and playful sense of humour is wonderfully smart.”
Henchman Story is a wonderfully witty visual novel with a penchant for ridiculing superhero tropes all while celebrating them in the most flattering and succinctly sweet way possible. Its simultaneous love for all things spandex and capes makes its critiques feel all the more relevant. It doesn’t come from a place of hatred or cynicism. Rather its narrative – which is told through the perspective of a lowly grunt – is hopeful, kind and deeply sincere.
This is all thanks to Henchman Story’s incredible writing. It is willing to detail the mundane and banal just as much as the action-packed escapades of a dubious yet hopeful henchman. The smaller, more grounded moments in Henchman Story will likely resonate with most players. Scenes of mingling with an overenthusiastic yet cold and insincere co-worker, enjoying the briefest of moments to yourself before returning to the drudgery of your everyday life and wishing for more from your life are present throughout.
Of course, I’m reading far too much into it. Sure, Henchman Story does explore the inner psyche of its protagonist Stan in a deep and meaningful way. However, it is first and foremost a comedy at which it succeeds with flying colours. The majority of jokes in Henchman Story landed for me. Its sarcastic, witty and playful sense of humour that ranges from goofy to ingenious is so wonderfully smart that I couldn’t help but at least crack a smile my whole way through.
“Fortunately, Henchman Story excels in the art department too.”
When Henchman Story isn’t being a comedy, it is a compelling superhero romp. Suffice to say, I was completely invested in it until the credits rolled. From the aptly named Lord Bedlam and the quick-witted Miss Dynamo to my all-time favourite Dave, the supporting characters really help cement the game’s narrative. They make it an engrossing and immersive experience that I couldn’t pull myself from.
Of course, a visual novel would be nothing without incredible art, and fortunately, Henchman Story excels in this department too. Paying homage to the comic book aesthetic seen in a plethora of comics – such as the indie hit Halcyon – Henchman Story’s character and world design are expertly pulled off. While there’s little motion to be found here, the developers have gotten a lot out of their incredibly expressive characters.
The only downside to Henchman Story is the lack of variety in locations. While the game does cover a lot of ground, players can expect to see a lot of repeated locations. This isn’t anything new for a visual novel, and really isn’t an issue in Henchman Story, especially as the locations themselves are beautifully drawn.
“This love letter to all things superheroes is as beautiful as it is funny.”
It is also worth noting that astoundingly Henchman Story is almost entirely voice acted. The voice acting for each and every character is perfect, especially for Dave and Lord Bedlam. Marc Soskin and Anthony Sardinha deliver the two best performances in the game. They perfectly bring to life two of the funniest characters I’ve had the pleasure of being entertained by in a long time.
The only caveat here is that Stan’s inner monologues are not voice acted. Of course, this is perfectly understandable as it would be far more costly and time-consuming to voice all of these. However, I did find it a little discombobulating when the first piece of inner monologue was delivered by silence. Nevertheless, the confusion quickly dissipates and I got used to it before long.
It really isn’t hard to recommend Henchman Story to pretty much anyone. This is by far one of the most enjoyable visual novels I’ve played in a very long time. Its lovable cast of characters, amazing voice acting and soundtrack, great art and phenomenal story coalesce to create a truly memorable experience. This love letter to all things superheroes is as beautiful as it is funny and absolutely worth checking out.
*Disclaimer: Reviewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.