That day in, day out work life grind can get to us all. Maybe there’s a mountain of paperwork piled on your desk everyday, or maybe there is sink after sink of dishes awaiting your skilled dishpan hands, or maybe you go in to work everyday and get the tar punched out of you by some do-gooder superhero while your evil mastermind boss makes off with a diamond bigger than the lump now forming on your forehead. Hey, we all gotta please the boss after all. Whether you’re flipping burgers at Wendy’s, writing up yet another cover sheet for your TPS report, or pretending to be completely invested in whatever hairbrained scheme your Supervillain overlord has cooked up this time. It’s all boring as heck, but it pays the bills am I right?
Well in Henchman Story from Silken Sail Entertainment, our main man Stan can attest to at least some of those exceptionally tedious tasks. See, he’s your run of the mill henchman. You know, those lackeys in tight fitting suits and weird masks. Those underpowered saps any villain worth their salt will scatter about to slow down any nosey super-passersby. You know, the ones that are in the market for foiling totally well laid plans. Well, this story is all about him and his journey to conquer the daily drudgery by any means necessary, and it’s all up to you to determine how that plan pans out!
Henchman Story is set up with the look and feel of a comic book in mind and the whole aesthetic really suits it. The artwork is crisp and detailed enough that you can really get a feel for each character’s personality. There were plenty of different backgrounds to go along with all the dialogue as well which is much appreciated in a visual novel. Especially when typically all you have are blocks of text to set the mood.
The amount of voice acting in this game was also quite impressive. Most of the dialogue was spoken by each character, other than Stan’s inner thoughts or observations. It was a really nice way to change it up, and just listen to the characters talk instead of reading along. On the other hand it can make it frustrating, as a fast reader, to listen to them talk while I finished reading long ago. Luckily, only a few of the characters were slow talkers and there was almost none of the standard fare fillers of “umms” and “ahhs” you typically see in visual novels.
The writing for Henchman Story was phenomenal. Full of humor and well thought out plotlines. All of the characters really seemed to have a good amount of depth and depending on which storyline you choose to follow, more gets revealed as you go. There are twelve endings total to be unlocked and even a few romantic options, so there’s plenty to keep you occupied and coming back again and again. I could listen to Lord Bedlam’s shenanigans all day and the only flaw I can point out is that there just wasn’t enough Lord Bedlam to go around! It’s a hard toss up between him and Dave as my personal favorite characters and it crushed me each time I had to be mean or rude to change up their dialogue from the last playthrough.
The story flowed really well regardless of how you made or modified your choices. There were significant changes in how the various characters would respond or react to you depending on your interactions with them throughout the story. Honestly, the amount of dovetails possible were quite remarkable.
Most of the important or actiony parts of the story were given special cutscene stills that would change as the action or dialogue progressed. All of these are viewable in the main menu gallery once unlocked.
It’s tough to make a visual novel stand out without adding non-visual novel game mechanics, but I can definitely say that Henchman Story is at the very least a cut above the rest. Purely due to the sheer attention to detail, especially in the places that mattered most. Like making the player feel like their choices really matter at every turn and the wide variety of paths you can send Stan along using those choices.
Henchman Story is not a visual novel for the faint of heart. It has depth and variety that you could spend literal days attempting to wade through if you so desired. This is not a short game by any means, but no matter what track you decide to set dear ol Stan’s life on, it’s definitely sweet, or at least a whole lot of fun.