A trip to the Basin Lake Museum of Art. Nothing unusual about that, so when June gets invited by her friend Tama in Within Her HeArt, she sees no reason to decline. However, it does strike her slightly odd how Tama asked her instead of Paisley, who is pretty much her BFF. What could be the reason for that?
See, I could give you the answer right away… but that wouldn’t be much fun (or appreciated by more than a few, surely). So instead, what say we focus on something less spoiler-y? Yeah? Great! So, the Basin Lake Museum of Art – what’s the deal with that place? Well, it’s an art museum, like so many. Just a varied bunch of perfectly normal paintings to gaze upon.
At least, that’s what I would say with a straight face, if not for the fact that Within Her HeArt is the second entry in ShibeyFaceGames’s Basin Lake Magical Girls Series. Magical Girls. Two words that, when combined, tend to spell trouble. Either that or a good time. It depends on whether you’re the viewer/reader/player or the protagonist(s). In this case, seeing how it’s a video game, it’s very much that last one, as you’ll be leading June and Tama through a handful of areas filled with nightmarish creations. A bunch of nasty things very much in need of a swift punch or, you know, magic. In some form. Whatever gets the job done.
Oh, and by ‘swift’, I don’t mean that combat is fast-paced, as nothing could be further from the truth. Coming into contact with an enemy changes the genre from platforming to turn-based combat, complete with elements of Paper Mario thrown in for good measure. Both regular and magical attacks trigger an efficiency-boosting mini-game that requires the player to either rapidly click a large target, click small targets that appear randomly, or petals/stars that fly across the screen. Definitely not a bad way to add interactive elements to otherwise entirely turn-based encounters.
Since there’s no item management of any sort, the only way to replenish your health, or HP, is through magic, which costs glamour. Not mana. Glamour. Magical girls, remember? Anyway, sooner or later, you’ll likely find yourself rotating damage dealing, healing, and glamour stealing. By which I mean that… well, you can use magic to drain glamour from enemies. Neat little trick – especially given the low cost.
So while the system is somewhat simple, specific encounters will still require a fair amount of number balancing, for while you can revive a fallen character, it is a costly affair. There is also a levelling system, although since each level only increases either HP or glamour by a single point, ensuring you kill every enemy is unlikely to make a huge difference.
Fortunately, I never found myself near knee-deep in you-know-what due to being underpowered, as finding out precisely what lies Within Her HeArt was more fun and chill than tense and challenging, which is perfectly fine. However, given the premise, overarching story, and design, I also have my doubts as to whether the game would have been as enjoyable with a higher degree of overall difficulty. Probably not.
‘Fun’ and ‘difficult’ can work just fine together, but in this case, chances are that combination would have simply extended the duration while adding little, if anything. Perhaps one of the other entries in the Basin Lake Magical Girls Series that I have yet to experience manages to walk that line while remaining a good time.
One way to find out, but for now… how about a trip to the Basin Lake Museum of Art?
Within Her HeArt is available on itch.io and Newgrounds for free.