Henchman Story

 

Review by · January 16, 2022

Nobody ever gives a second thought to all those poor, unfortunate, downtrodden henchmen out there. To any of us, they’re merely nameless and faceless cannon fodder for heroes to trounce and evil overlords to take out their frustrations on. But within every henchman’s uniform lies an actual person simply doing a job, albeit a tireless, thankless, dangerous, and woefully unappreciated one. With this in mind, I present to you Henchman Story: a comic book-styled visual novel that puts you in the shoes of Stan, a surprisingly self-aware henchman who works for a B-tier supervillain named Lord Bedlam.

As a visual novel, Henchman Story is a Choose Your Own Adventure-style game where players are fed a story and make decisions at key junctures, leading to about a dozen endings. A single playthrough took me less than a day to get through, and I achieved 100% completion over a weekend. Some endings are far more challenging to get than others, and that is part of the fun of the genre.

Henchman Story has action and drama befitting a superhero comic, but the biggest story highlights were easily its slice-of-life moments. The vibrant characters all have snappy, if occasionally potty-mouthed, dialogue, and I’m sure every player will find a favorite. As engaging as my experience with Henchman Story was, however, it was all too brief and left me wanting more. I yearned for lengthier storyline scenarios, more expansive world building, deeper character development (in terms of interactions and backstories), additional screen time for various side characters (more Dave, Miss Dynamo, and Nightingale, please), and all the other fixings of a thicker plot. This sentiment was strongest for one of the more intriguing endings I got. Said ending left me with more questions than answers because it didn’t offer necessary additional context. In my view, if there is any game out there absolutely begging for DLC, it is Henchman Story.

Stan facing off against an opponent in Henchman Story, choosing an attack position.
To be a henchman, you have to be able to take the pain.

Although Henchman Story is fully voiced, it doesn’t mask the lacking story elements. I also found the voice acting somewhat inconsistent. The slice-of-life scenes were well-acted, but several action sequences had characters reciting their lines as if they were chatting over coffee rather than in the thick of tense battles. I get that superpowered people find battle banter as casual as coffee chat, but audiences like me desire that little bit of melodramatic tension in action scenes to keep us on the edge of our seats.

As both a love letter to, and a satire of, classically styled comic books, Henchman Story‘s expressive character designs have a vivid comic book look. Lord Bedlam may not be the most respected supervillain out there, but there is no denying that he has style. His favored purple and gold motif makes for slick-looking uniforms that Stan and company wear. The irony is not lost on me that the lowly henchmen actually get cooler-looking uniforms than the few superheroes seen in the game. Sadly, the listless music does not match the energetic nature of the visuals. The smooth jazz style music isn’t poorly composed, but it’s rather dull and unmemorable. I’ll concede that the music works for the slice-of-life scenes, but it lacks the necessary pizzazz for the action scenes.

A Henchman Story screenshot featuring Lord Bedlam revealing his plan to destroy allegedly unfair group communication on the internet.
Lord Bedlam certainly has his priorities in order.

A comic book-styled visual novel about the life of a disgruntled henchman is a nifty concept with tons of potential, and Henchman Story does an alright job with it. I liked its slick style, cool characters, and dramatic dialogue. I just wish there was deeper and more extensive storyline content to flesh out the world and its characters. DLC would definitely bolster this game because there is so much more to tell and more I need to know. Henchman Story is a good start for developer Silken Sail, but I want more from their next project.


Pros

Vibrant visuals, colorful characters.

Cons

Inconsistent voice acting, not enough plot content.

Bottom Line

An enjoyable game that left me wanting more.

Graphics
80
Sound
75
Gameplay
80
Control
80
Story
80
Overall Score 79
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Neal Chandran

Neal Chandran

Neal is the PR coordinator at RPGFan but also finds time to write occasional game or music reviews and do other assorted tasks for the site. When not schmoozing with various companies on behalf of RPGFan or booking/scheduling appointments for press events, he is an educator, musician, voiceover artist, cyclist, gym rat, and bookworm.