Hercules! is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition. Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.
Usually, I don’t like to start a game review by quoting a huge chunk of text from the game but the opening to Hercules! and the game’s response to the first few commands that I typed in will tell you a lot about whether or not this game is for you.
From Hercules!, by Leo Weinreb:
“Hi! My name’s Hercules, and I want to be a hero!”
That was your opening line to the Gods on the glowing marble steps of Mount Olympus. There was a beat of silence as your words rang through the air – and then a roaring, hysterical fit of laughter that could not be quelled.
You can’t really blame them, you suppose – you don’t exactly fit the heroic mold. You’re near-sighted, scrawny, constantly allergic, and have far more phobias than a demigod should. Your spiteful stepmother Hera discounts you out of hand, and even your father Zeus is skeptical at best. But you know you can be as great as the Gods themselves if only someone would just give you a chance!
As luck would have it, the day after your meeting with the Gods, your cousin Eurystheus offered you a temp job. Finally, you’ve been given a chance to prove yourself, and you’ll be sure not to squander this opportunity! Let’s see, this to-do list he gave you can’t be all that hard…
You are on a plain dirt road leading east to the land of Tiryns, where your cousin Eurystheus serves as king.
Hercules! is now in its “verbose” mode, which always gives long descriptions of locations (even if you’ve been there before).
You’ve never been one for vanity, but you give yourself a good once-over. Your limbs are scrawny and weak, almost spaghetti-noodle like, and your acne hasn’t improved since middle school. Your spectacles slide down your nose so much that you’ve gotten into a habit of just pushing them back up again, and your height is considerably below average. Sure you may not be much to look at, but you’d rather be brainy than brawny any day. Give me a good instruction manual and some Albuterol and nothing is impossible!
This game imagines a Hercules who, for lack of a better term, is a nerd. If you think being a nerd is difficult in the modern world, just try to being one in ancient Greece, at a time when muscles and ludicrous feats of strength are everything! Determined to prove yourself, you accept the 12 impossible tasks that have been assigned to you by your cousin.
This is a fun game. Obviously, the main appeal of the game is the way that it pokes fun at Greek mythology but the writing is also consistently funny and the NPCs are all enjoyably quirky and weird. The puzzles aren’t too difficult and, fortunately, you can download a walkthrough. I laughed several times while walking through Hercules! There’s not many IF games that I can say that about.