As someone who has played the role of healer in many an MMO (many times with absolutely horrible players that had no clue what they were doing), I had to admit that the idea of playing a game where my only job was to heal another character made me a bit wary. The developers at Pon Pon Games certainly assuaged any such fears and so much more with A Healer Only Lives Twice.
The game starts with a warrior waking you up from a bad dream and telling you that it’s time to map out the dungeon; explaining that it is an easy enough task. This proves true as you finish out the mapping by the end of the cutscene, but then your route back is cut off by a sea of monsters. The warrior tells you that if you can keep him healed, you will get through this just fine.
This is way easier said than done. The game moves in a few different ways. There are tiers and you go up one every time you defeat a sea of monsters. Time in the form of days progresses while you are doing this, a rotation of the sun and then of the moon. This is important as your health regenerates in the day and your mana at night, more so for each, determined by what phase the moon is in, which means you have to strategize as such. Every time a day and night cycle passes, you use and lose a torch, which is what is lighting your way for you to get through the dungeon. If you have no torches to burn, you fail the quest and have to start all over.
The good news is that each level has a red stone, which destroys all remaining creatures on the tier, along with a torch. The bad news is that both of these things are buried within the monsters and you have no way of determining where in the swarm they reside.
This is where strategy comes in. Obviously, you want to find the torch and then use the red stone as quickly in the tier as you can, but you also have to keep your warrior alive and well. You have to actively protect his head, his right arm, his left arm, his chest, and his legs as a unit. Any time one of these parts, drops to zero, a status is directly impacted, be it bravery, health, defense, attack, and target. Too much damage and your quest fails. The bright side is that you can craft items that help with your status, mana potions, health potions, torches, etc. depending on the items that you pick up during battle. You also have skills that you can upgrade every time you level up, so leveling up is definitely an important part of the game, as these can help you when attacking enemies, protecting or healing your warrior, or simply giving you an experience boost.
There is no way to beat the game in one playthrough, but every time you fail your quest, you gain PP based upon your score, how long you lasted and what tier and level you made it to. These are used for permanent Upgrades in the main screen that will help with all kinds of different things like mana cost or cooldown, various bonuses, torch effectiveness”¦.the list goes on and on. All of these upgrades affect any playthroughs that follow in the main quest.
Despite the same general concept, each play through is different based on the location of where objects end up in the crowd of monsters. No matter how many times you go through the tiers, A Healer Only Lives Twice will certainly make you think and keep you on the very tips of your toes for the entirety of your quest.