Heroes Rise: Why so unpopular?

Why is it unpopular? It isn’t. Heroes Rise is incredibly popular. It’s one of the most consistently highest-rated and highest-downloaded series CoG has. The rub is in the fact that the games have things about them that are fairly glaring, and a good deal of people on the forum are fairly critical. Rest assured that when you talk with us, you’re talking to maybe ten percent of the fanbase. And when you’re talking to the ones most disdainful of Heroes Rise, it’s an even smaller percentage.


Totally agree it is a bestseller. Still my criticism remains


Personally, I loved the original Heroes Rise trilogy. I bought the games one after another and devoured them over a single weekend, and have done several replays since then. They’re far from perfect, but they’re a lot of fun.

When I played the demo for the fourth game, I did not have fun. Instead of cool powers and a dramatic backstory, this new MC had powers which often burdened and frustrated them, was trapped in a stressful family situation, and just didn’t seem to have much joy in their life. They depressed me. I didn’t want to see the world through their eyes. I didn’t buy the game, and from the sounds of it that was a wise choice, because I wouldn’t like a heap of preaching thrown at me either.

The original trilogy had its preachy moments, especially that big LGBT+++ argument in the second game, but they weren’t unbearable (actually, that was the one point in the story where I wanted to support Stage Show, who I otherwise disliked). My MC just watched everyone yell at each other, told them to chill, and then never thought about it again because he was too busy getting felt up by his boyfriend on camera for the 500th time. It didn’t become an anchor that dragged the entire game down.


Heroes Rise is unique in generating actual hate from the CoG forum (games like For Rent: Haunted House and To the City in the Clouds just landed with a wet thud, for example). However, to CoG, the relevant metric is usually that it sells, not that it has a hatedom. (Usually. At one point the company asked all of the forum community to buy it on Steam to prove to Valve that CoG could be popular. We were…not enthusiastic.)

I think this is because of the author’s style. He’s got no problems with overriding or even mocking your choices, blatantly forcing your actions, telling you (the player) what you think, and setting up One True Routes that require you to act a specific way or be aggressively punished by the plot. On this forum, we’re pretty sensitive to that kind of thing. In particular, railroading people into sexual encounters is a good way to lead to flaming (I led the charge on this over HR1 and haven’t bought any HR games since).

I’m honestly curious what people like about the series.


I really enjoyed the feeling of going up through the ranks of a literal nobody to a respected hero. The “quirks” in the first three never really bothered me that much. Sure the author may not have liked the choice I made but it didn’t end my game or anything. And it felt kind of realistic to hear criticism for actions. Even the whole thing with Black Magic didn’t bother me much. But I think overall what got me into it was that it was a good size choice of games game in a time where the pool of games to choose from was limited. I still enjoyed the original series as a whole. Just not everything in it was enjoyable.

That being said I could barely finish Redemption Season. I don’t subscribe to the politics forced on me in that game and making me do actions to further those politics just to get a “good” ending did not provide me with an enjoyable experience.


Short answer I think is disappointment and anger
Disappointment in what the stories and author promised and promise, disappointment in what was delivered, in the tone and attitude the stories displayed, about the path they took or better how they took it, and disappointment and anger at how the author handled and handles rightful criticism.

(I’ll add a longer answer later, I’m on the road atm, though the most has been said by others above. I shall add the bit about the Dystopia That Wasn’t)


Heroes Rise, or The Dystopia That Wasn't (spoilers ahead)

HR itself is not a bad story, and Sergi is as such not a bad author.
But he stumbles over a couple of common beginner’s mistakes and has his own ego get in his way (something all too common for beginning and some experienced authors, unfortunately)

He did write a very unsettling and interesting dystopia. The problem?
He did not write it as a dystopia.

This is something that can happen unwittingly, and I’d say it happened here.

One can read all the odds and ends that happen, the massive railroading, the scolding, belittling if not outright mocking and punishing the player if they stray from the ‘true’ path, the lack of continuity and sense in those ‘wrong’ paths… all that could be explained very neatly by one thing:

The MeChips take away people’s free will.

In the world of Heroes Rise MeChips replaced the basic brain functions like memory.

Said replacing the brain has, according to the narrative throughout the pentalogy, enabled the brain to ‘take the next step in evolution and develop superpowers’.

This is already the first sign of a dystopia: An explanations for why the society is where and what it is at the time the story takes place that does not have any logical footing. In this case a severe misunderstanding of what evolution is and how it works:

Replacing memory, navigation (another example named) and other (unspecified) basic brain functions would not ‘free resources to allow for the development of superpowers’ but more likely cause the brain to shrink steadily, as it does not need its capacities anymore.

But this explanation for superpowers is never once questioned in universe.

Which in turn can be seen as the first sign that this was not written as a dystopia.

Now, while it would fit perfectly with a dystopia that no one in-universe questions something, there would (by the genre) always be the point in which the main-character does so.

This point never comes.

The only people ever shown doubting the chips are villains who are ‘crazy’ or villains that want to replace them with a version beneficial to them. But at no point does the main-character doubt that the chips are a good thing.

Now, as stated the chips have presumably replaced the basic brain functions, with ‘memory’ being the one named as example.

A circumstance that never has any effect on anything, however.

As this is (nominally) an CYOA one can expect some puzzles that require the player to remember something.

Where it just for that, one could say that this is simply mixing up player- and character-knowledge.

But throughout the pentalogy the reader encounters situation that should not play out like they play out if the chips would have replaced memory:
The fingertips color, Culic’s real name, the scribblings on the wall.

In HR1 the MC’s chip gets forcefully removed, yet the only effect this has is that they are now unable to call the police or get their location via GPS.

No memory loss, no loss of language, nothing that should happen if one would lose their memories in their entirety all of a sudden.

There are two possible explanations:

  1. The brain creates a backup. An explanation that goes against the origin story for superpowers and would only work if said origin story is incorrect and thus a lie in-universe.

  2. There’s a secondary, actual chip located elsewhere that only a few people know about, while the public (this includes the villain who removed the chip) does not.

But the lack of memory loss is not questioned in the story.

Possibility 2, however, leads to the next point:

Prodigal, who removed the chip, proclaims at some other point (game 3) how she does not have a chip at all because she’s not one of the sheep.

There’s, obviously, an issue with this:

In-universe the character’s stats are something that exist in the flesh. The chips grant access to said stats, the in-universe warning system even referencing them at certain points, as does the narrative text. The chips also grant access to a database that keeps track of the LegendPoints.

A scoreboard for superheroes (possibly regular people too), meant to reflect how popular an individual is.

These points are given (or taken away) for decisions the main-character makes.

Not outstanding heroic, clever or impressive decisions, but decisions that are lining up with the strongest stats, or, even more importantly here, decisions like who main-character decided is their biggest enemy, what question to ask another character, guessing correctly what another character was talking about, what battle tactic is best for two other characters or how to stop someone from killing people.

To reiterate:

Legend Points are points on a publicly accessible database that keep track of how ‘consistent’ a person’s behavior is with previous decisions, and how they interact with others.

While it is never said whether or not there’s a list of the decisions that earned points in-universe, the mechanics that must be at work here are once more purely dystopian, and once more never acknowledged as such:

  1. In order to gain legend points for being ‘consistent’ the database has to constantly check one’s actions and thoughts(!) against previous thoughts and actions.

  2. In order to gain or lose legend points for any decision or action that involves one or more other person(s) the database would have to check one person’s stats and history against that of the other(s).

Meaning there is no privacy in the world of Heroes Rise.

Yet at various points other things like telepathy or up- and downloading people’s personalities are brought up as controversial due to them invading privacy etc. (Sidenote: With memory being digital telepathy would be useless. It’d either need a simple reading device, or, if superpowers are required, techno- or elektrokinesis)

Point 2, in addition, is something that would not work if a character would not have a chip. Yet like with PG, it works at several occasions throughout the stories. While one might argue that she has a chip of her own design for necessities, it still would require a connection and documentation in the database, making the creation of a special chip pointless.

Thus, as mentioned, it seems likely that the actual chip is located elsewhere, and that she unknowingly has one too. Another oddity entirely dystopian, but never brought up in-universe.

The Legend Points bring up the next and main item:

Is there any form of Free Will in the world of Heroes Rise?

Throughout the games various choices come up that will only lead to the narrative text scolding, mocking and/or belittling the player for ‘playing the character like they envision a hero’ (something the legend guide insists is a good thing). The only path to success is to follow what in the first game is the ‘badass’ path:

A lawless, fame-hungry solo vigilante, going in guns blazing etc.

All other approaches are… continuously discouraged. They are there, but are riddled with plotholes and seem tacked on rather begrudgingly. In the first game, one will get scolded for trying to ‘patrol the streets’ (aka take it slow), because that is the wrong decision as one ‘wants to rise to fame quickly’ (even if one plays as justice seeking). In the second game no reason to join the casting show is given other than, again, one ‘wants to rise to fame quickly’.

Other times straying from the badass path has the characters do… very weird things.
In the first game, Officer Sanders tells the MC who hired Trackr and that the MC could get there before the police arrives, but shouldn’t do it, because Sanders does not want another dead rookie on his conscience.

Then why did he tell the MC this? The game says ‘because he owes them one for their help’ but would a ‘Hey, if and when we recover the artifact, we’ll tell the owner to give you the reward, and if something goes awry, we’ll keep your name out of things’ not have done as well? probably even better?

But the designated plot demands the MC to go there. So this oddity isn’t addressed either.

So, by all means, there is no free will in the world of HR.
Everyone has their role designed by the database, and said database operates one a very narrow idea of how people act and react.

Something that shows most unsettlingly when the topic of minorities and oppression comes up:

In HR, the narrative text and the characters insist that there is no more oppression based on race, gender, sexuality etc. Only oppression against powered people exists.

Yet we suddenly have the infamous oppression olympics scene in HR2, a scene after which the game and characters go back to say the only oppression against powereds exists.

Something we are never shown. The ‘worst’ bit of oppression ‘shown’ is the ‘gene hazard’ term, which is declared a slur, but the game is inconsistent in terms of who exactly it is used against.
All powereds? Powereds with only one power set? With multiple power sets?
All definitions are shown, each declared true, each excluding the others.

What is also shown is how privileged powereds are.
Given everything shown and told and done, things can be read as if HR’s future world is one in which the oppressors decide what is oppression and what is not (look at real life and FOX news trying to claim that being called ‘racist’ is the worst thing that could ever happen to any given person).

And as for the portrayal of minorities? Flat and plot-convenient, with a severe X-ist and x-misic undertone, from racism, queermisia, transmisia to plain out misogyny, ableism and so forth. (there’s also a heavy heteronormative undertone throughout the pentalogy)

But despite everything, no one in-universe bats an eye at any of this, unless the scene demands it.

All in all, Sergi did write a story in which things can be read as if the actual bad guys are Jenny and the regulations department (and related people), as they would benefit the most (both in power and money in a way) from controlling the narrative.

Unfortunately, Sergi never wrote HR as such dystopia.

Further issues people have with things are the aforementioned attitude of Sergi towards people who… I don’t want to say make him uncomfortable, but who run the risk of embarrassing (?) him.

There has been this thing on facebook a while back where the HR readers had to answer a question correctly, with Sergi offering a Q&A as reward. People did, and asked about BlackMagic’s full backstory (or at least more details).

Instead of providing, or admitting that he hadn’t thought of it in detail, sergi pretty much went ‘oh I can’t post this on social media’, disappointing and pissing of a good number of people.

Since he acted as if short fics etc are not a thing. His response convinced many (to my knowledge) that he has not planned things as much as he claimed and still claims.

Another similar thing happened on twitter about two or three months ago:
Someone asked for what the characters’ ages were, and sergi gave an evasive answer at first, then claimed to have tones written out timelines and then banned the user (after said user mentioned they didn’t feel well with StageShows portrayal), claiming he did so to ‘keep his twitter a safe space’. And again people wondered ‘safe for whom?’

The biggest WTF in this regard came not too long after the beta of OS. There is a scene in which depression is talked about out of nowhere in an extremely uninformed and ignorant way, the bit ending with it being basically miraculously cured by thinking happy thoughts and doing yoga.

Said scene gave one tester two back-to-back anxiety attacks, while being extremely emotionally draining to another.

Now, I trust that Jason forwarded that bit of feedback. Yet the scene is still there, still as out of nowhere, still as uninformed and ignorant.

Yet when said tester said so on twitter in a thread where sergi asked what people liked and disliked about OS, sergi banned them, calling their feedback ‘nasty voice’ and insisting that ‘he takes all feedback into account least it goes against his vision

To put plainly:

Sergi will rather ignore feedback telling him what he does is genuinely triggering than to change ‘his vision of the story’.
All while claiming to be inclusive and wanting to send a positive message.

I said this before, but it’s still true:

I know this attitude. I had it myself when I started writing.
Thus (unless he is beyond hope and/or it’s really ‘just’ and overblown ego) Sergi is not a bad writer. He just needs something or someone to pull him off the high horse so he’ll wake up and use his potential.

Because, I’ll be honest:
He is at his best when he’s ‘in the flow’ as he demonstrated in HR3:

There a couple of bits where he seems to have forgotten how ‘crazy’ PG is, how he ‘must’ make a political statement etc… and just wrote.
Just wrote and managed to weave said ‘craziness’ and politics into a whole, pretty well-flowing and engaging narrative.
Until he stopped TO hammer things home, possibly deeming it wasn’t obvious enough.

That’s all from atop of my head atm.


Complete lack of an asexual orientation (Something I’m finding increasingly unforgivable, hint-hint.) but I only really realized I’m ace a little over a year ago so when it came out I had other complaints.

But more generally: Your railroaded romantic and sexual attraction to Black Magic and how much of a fixed character the MC is.

There’s also no consequences for being a mass-murdering psychopath that racks up a huge body count and very blatantly doesn’t a shit about anything other than yourself. Regardless of your decisions, you’ll still be that “Hero of the People” fighting the evil government at the end.

I actually did like the game when it came out but I feel like COG games are usually far more inclusive these days, less railroading and don’t presume as much about your MC to the point that I’m frankly spoiled. It was an early title and it made alot of mistakes we as a community know not to do these days.


It hasn’t aged well, and there’s a lot of railroading in addition to being one of the most popular games so most of us have played them. I imagine there’s less complaining outside the forum though. Oh and a lot of people found BM creepy who is the one who is thrust upon us. (Railroading, making them look like a real person for no reason, they thought the guy version’s seemed more predatory for doing the same actions as the girl, constantly giving ultimatums) Dropping anvils that don’t apply to his world.

  • it’s popular and old. People point out stuff they don’t like about it more and it doesn’t meet modern forum standards.

I disliked Heroes Rise quite a bit to the point where I had little interest in playing any subsequent games in the series. However, It always seemed to me that my opinion on it was rather unpopular.

For me I hated how the author basically beats you over the head with how meaningless all your choices were as the crux of the entire story, and how implausible that twist ends up being. Because of this the game is also kind of a huge bait and switch. It starts out seemingly being about you being a rookie superhero learning the ropes, but then quickly changes into a story about some weird crazy stalker messing with you, and by the end it turns out that that was actually what the ENTIRE story was about somehow, and you’re stuck with a story that’s more about this completely nonsensical villain whose motivations are completely moronic, but who is somehow such an ingenious master manipulator that she can control every event in your life for the past few days. I don’t know if it’s worse or better that the actual choices bear out Prodigal’s ridiculous claims on replaying the game.

It’s a bit like TellTale games in that replaying it actually makes it retroactively a worse game, because you immediately realize that none of the choices you made last time actually mattered when you make different choices the second time and virtually nothing changes. About the only choices that do matter are a result of other problems. You can only choose to save the reporter if you consistently choose to be obsessed with fame… even though she’s a helpless bystander and your sidekick is actually supposed to be a hero in their own right… And then it turns out that that is actually the choice that gives a more heroic outcome because the sidekick was working for Prodigal all along.

People have already pointed out the issues with romantic and sexual railroading, but in addition to that, I personally found Madam Vice to be a more interesting character than Black Magic even with just the small amount of time she appears, and she basically just gets tossed into a plot hole and dies.

@Dark_Stalker On the other hand, maybe more people are just noticing how bad it has always been now that the hype has died down. I know I disliked it since the late beta.


Weeks, if not months actually. And I think this is another problem many dislike:

The story often feels too fast yet too slow. Too fast in that everything happens pretty much at once, and too slow in the sense that yet it drags on and on, forces you through irrelevant drivel of history lessons (that’s the polar opposite of good world building) etc.


I may be in the minority here, but I praise the book for prodigal’s character/romance. Truthfully that was the only saving Grace for me. Too bad even that was stripped away from me in the end.


PG is an interesting character, but again, mostly when Sergi does not halt the story to remind the reader just ‘how crazy’ she is. She’s at her best when sergi… just writes.

EDIT: Also about the aforementioned ‘true path’:

It really is from the first choice on, even though the entire scene is fake.
We get three choices, and only the ‘badass’ one will succeed.
Then, if we go for the ‘badass’ badge and fly home, the text pretty much praises us for how awesome flying is, and how clever we are for avoiding being seen.
While on the other choice we are forced to pointlessly spent money (which, seeing money was pointed out by the text, thus giving the impression it’s important) and get a disappointed ton from the narrative. Sure, we get to set the chip thing earlier, but that’s it.
Similar when we then witness the streetfight:

Ever picked a choice different from energy blasts if you play offensive (as the path wants)? You quite literally let go of the kid you just jumped onto, run back, jump onto him again and he does nothing.
Also notice how the little girl will ask you if you are ‘a real powered hero’ even if you not once used your powers.

Once you stray from the ‘badass’ path continuity goes completely haywire.


well…I liked the book . My minor grip with it has nothing to do with the aboves complain though .

I also loved Black Magic…I mean ANGELINA JOLIE! wink wink

ahem…and I romanced everyone anyway , so…

I think the sequel was a bit underwhelming but it wasn’t AWFUL and OMG ALL TERRIBLE like .

If anything , this story could stand to teach a few things on what to do and not to do .

it’s flawed like a human can be . Not perfect but not terrible either .

I don’t have any hate , because I played the story late and while later…the sequel was underwhelming like I said…I still cherish how it started . Cose that 1st book was still awesome .


I actually love the Heroes Rises games. The original trilogy was my first CoGs I’ve ever played and have a special place in my heart. Redemption Season is defiantly the weakest in the series for me but I actually really liked Open Season, I only wish that it had been 2 books instead of one.

I just think the style they are in isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. They are certainly more linear and I think some people don’t care for that but, honestly, I prefer that. I get easily overwhelmed with games that was too branch-y and open. I think you still get enough choice to make your playthroughs feel special to you in HR, there’s certainly more games that I think are more limiting.

Mecha Ace, for example, I like that game but you are limited once you build your character. You can’t really deviate much and even who you can romance is limited to what your character’s personality traits are.

Still, you can always count me as a fan. The games might be flawed but they are also pretty old isn’t the first game only, like, the 5th CoG that was ever released? so we can see these flaws now that other games have come along and perfected the craft, so to speak. I honestly don’t think it deserves all the hate it gets.


Though then, I think, one has to ask and wonder why after six years and a good number of other games to ‘learn’ from etc the same negative odds and ends (the railroading, the lack of consistency etc) are still present.


It got him this far, don’t fix what isn’t broke.

Maybe it’s faults in combination with it’s feats allow some to enjoy it, I don’t know why I do, it simply is.

I would argue some of those “negative odds and ends” would be a matter of opinion :slightly_smiling_face: I never really felt railroaded, personally, what bothers you might not be a big deal to other people.

Edit: To me, HR is like getting to be a part of a story instead of making the story. Which you like better is just a matter of taste, but since I’m just one part of the story I don’t mind the game doing a bit of leading if that means it’ll make for a better story.


I pretty much like Hero Rise, with the exception of the second one because FFS, i don’t care about your reality TV nonsens and i hate everyone in that damned program, i don’t even care about your protectora bulshit, i’m already with the millenial group, especialy with the sudden ultimatum from Black Magic just because her handler suddenly told her to, like she has a handler for what ? a few weeks ? and she has already that much control over Black Magic ? it really killed my interest for the character, i also constantly had the impression of accomplishing nothing and just failing over and over again, it was a litteral pain to play

that and the whole ‘you got depowered’ plotline, that was just a pain, especialy since most of the plot is an investigation and a media war rather than a series of fight so letting my characters feel overpowered as he should, as an ‘infini powered’ (you basicaly stop the equivalent of a nuke in the first game FFS) would have changed nothing major, it would have just been nice

i like the sequel trilogie too (way less though) but i was really dissapointed that it chose to do the whole reality TV nonsens again, especialy since we basicaly become a super hero in name only, we do no actual super heroing, even worst than Booster Gold pre-character developement, which say a lot

the romantic option for the sequel all sucked too BTW, i know it sound harsh but it’s just the truth

and lastly : the over use of made up words and weird pronoun, i know that it’s important for some people but goddamit, make it optional, you have no idea how much of a pain it is for a non native english speaker like me to read whenever it’s over used, though it’s mostly a probleme in Versus rather than Hero rise (there was passage i litteraly couldn’t understand in Versus because of that)

that’s pretty much all of my probleme with both trilogie (the whole political hammering was already addressed better by others so i won’t address it even if it was really a pain a few time) so it’s probably why it’s unpopular among some, at least from my point of view

BTW, a polygamie option would have been fun in the first trilogie (not in the second, because as i said, the romance all sucked), i can just imagine the supporting cast reaction to my character being with both Prodigial and Lucky, they are like day and night XD


I know and I agree.

Just out of curiosity (this is not meant as snarky or anything): Which is your preferred path/approach?

Also: @Balrog_Demorgothe The pronoun thing is its whole own can of worms.
The ze/hir pronoun set does exist, but, by all means, the way things are written it feels as if sergi (I can only speculate though) saw that, thought it sounds like some alien race or something and created this pretty transmisic ‘third gender’ group around it, instead of… just saying yeah, gender identity and stuff’s no big deal anymore.


That’s a pretty vague question? If you’re asking about the stats I like I prefer doing lawful and justice, tho I tend to start out being offensive in Book 1 then slowly becoming more defensive in Book 2 and 3. My MC will hook with with BM in the first game, they’ll break up in the second, and then he’ll get with Jury in the third. I like to end up with him as the new leader of the Millennial Group.

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