Heroine for Hire is a fantasy romance indie otome game developed by Jellyfish Parade. The game follows Lyre Harmoniel, a young woman who can’t seem to hold down a steady job. After losing eight jobs in the span of just 2 months, Lyre is starting to get desperate—is it too much to ask for a gig that is both fulfilling and pays well?! Just when she thinks the perfect job doesn’t exist, Lyre sees a promising job listing and she thinks maybe, just maybe her luck has finally turned around…
I played the game last year when Veris’s route was released and now I’m diving back in to play the broody blacksmith, Fai’s route! It’s been a some time since the initial release and Jellyfish Parade has been hard at work making some improvements to the UI and the story and I am excited to see those updates in action! When H4H was first released, Fai’s route was still in progress and after getting an early sneak peek, I can honestly say he was worth the wait!
So, the game kicks off with our employment challenged heroine peacefully working at her current gig—waitress at a local pub. Things seem to be going well, that is until a group of rowdy regulars think it’s cool to cop a feel, not one to take that lying down, Lyre grabs a soup ladle and a cast iron skillet and teaches them a thing or two about how to treat a lady. Royal knight Veris who happens to be at the pub steps in to give her a hand; impressed with her skill with the skillet, he suggests that she consider a career as a knight, which is great because her boss promptly fires her!
Now 0 for 9 on the job front, Lyre will need to go on the prowl for a new gig, but, she’s kind of worn out her welcome at most of the shops around town. At her wits end and at a loss for what to do, Lyre is saved when her sister tells her about some fresh new jobs she saw posted in town. Hopeful that this is the big break she’s been working for, Lyre heads out to see if she qualifies. Choose between working as a Squire for Royal knight, Sir Veris or as a Blacksmith’s Assistant with fiery Blacksmith, Fai.
If you want my thoughts on Veris’s route, check out my review: Heroine For Hire Game Review – Veris’ Route
I will readily admit that this route was the one I was most looking forward to playing. Don’t get me wrong, Veris is nice—chiseled good looks and a smile that would make anyone swoon—but, Fai, with his rugged looks and brooding eyes is definitely more my type. It’s no secret that I love me a strong and stoic man, there is something alluring about them and Fai checks off just about every box (both for me and for our heroine, Lyre). Fai is the town’s blacksmith and a master of the trade, and while people admire his skills as a metalsmith, his reputation isn’t all that great. He’s not one for idle chatter, in fact he says very little even when engaged in conversation, and his intimidating appearance doesn’t exactly invite folks in. But, what perhaps the most damning is that he is half human, half pfer—in universe, pfer are fire elementals, who in the past have been known for the tendency to set things ablaze on a whim—he is impervious to heat, which he makes good use of for his metal crafts. Many in town remember very well the damage the pfer can cause and give him and his shop a wide berth.
But, really, Fai is a big ol’ softie, who love cute animals and has a hard time talking with others, he can be unintentionally intimidating, which is why he hires Lyre—to have someone more personable greeting customers and making deliveries. Lyre is eager to take on that role and along the way she gets to see there is more to Fai than she originally thought. In addition to his smelting, Fai is actually quite skilled at making jewelry, though he stubbornly refuses to sell any of the pieces he’s made. He knows very well that his reputation in town isn’t the best and he is under no delusion that it will change anytime soon, and he’s accepted that, Lyre on the other hand is sure that if more people see the beautiful things Fai has made they might start to warm up to him.
I love the relationship between Fai and Lyre, their relationship is slow to develop (mostly because Fai is pretty oblivious), but I really liked seeing Fai gradually loosen up around Lyre. He smiles more and even a few rare blushes, he even goes out of his way to engage in conversation with her (something he doesn’t really do with anyone else). He reveals little things, like he’s a vegetarian (which as a strict meat lover, I suppose I can learn to love) and he trusts her enough to defer to her judgement in most situations. And while he may not say it out loud, his frequent blushing around her definitely hints that his mind is on more than just smithing.
My love for indie otome heroines is no secret, as a whole they tend to be much more engaging characters than their Japanese otome counterparts and overall, I just relate to them more. But, what I like about Jellyfish Parade is that the studio is helmed by a Black woman, and Jessinia always includes strong black and brown female leads in her games, which for a Black female gamer such as myself is why I keep coming back for more. Her heroines are always smartly written and relatable, I see myself in them not just because they’re Black (though that does help), but because they are human. Lyre, is a headstrong young woman who isn’t afraid to work a crappy job for the sake of helping out her family. She is uncompromising in her believes, but also not afraid to see things from someone else’s perspective and when it comes to what she wants she barrels in headfirst.
Lyre is a character that resonates with me, because she isn’t perfect. She can be awkward and there are times when she definitely puts her foot in her mouth, but when it comes down to it, she always strives to do what’s right. Lyre is is allowed to be herself. She makes no secret of the fact that Fai is her type of man—and with all those rippling muscles on display can you blame a gal from oggling her boss? Brutha is fine! But, what like most about Lyre, is that she puts in the work, in Veris’s route she goes through rigourous (and often ridiculous) squire training and here in Fai’s route she attempts to learn a bit of smithing. Now, that’s not to say that she’s any good at it, but it’s really cool to see a female character, especially the heroine of an otome game, something so rugged… Lyre is kind of an inspiration… I also want to mention, that I love that even though this is a romance game, the relationship Lyre has with her family still plays a pretty big role in the story. She goes to her sister Lute their mother are both super supportive of Lyre and her choices and even offer a bit of advice (and light teasing) from time to time.
I played Heroine for Hire when it was initially released last year and while I liked the game then, there were some things that needed a bit more polishing. So, when Jessinia hit me up about the latest update, I was eager to jump right in! Right off the bat the game has a cleaner much more polished looking UI, and it is beautiful—new menus for the CG gallery and soundtrack. This time around, the CGs are small voiced scenes which definitely gives a bit more life to the events of the game—and any excuse to hear Fai’s voice actor is A-OK in my book. The voice acting in the rest of the game is minimal, reserved for a few key words or phrases, which is nice, especially since even the side characters have voiced lines and a handful were given new character sprites too.
Heroine for Hire has such a rich and immersive fantasy world full of animal/human hybrids, fire elementals, elves, and more and as many of you already know, I am a sucker for good fantasy lore. There is a wealth of great worldbuilding here, but, there are still some aspects of the world that aren’t fully explained and I would have liked an in-game glossary for some of the more specialized terms and phrases. Fai is half pfer, which is more or less a fire elemental, and it’s something that comes up quite a bit, but, I’d have really loved to see the term defined in full. There were also some interesting animals that I would have loved to see illustrated, like the “kittensloth” and the “bunnywren” and of course the “chickenfrogs” (since they were a BIG part of Veris’s route too). The characters themselves are really diverse too; most of the main cast are made up of human/animal hybrids, each with their own unique characteristics and mannerisms. The royal family is made up of dear/human hybrids and Lyre and her family are rabbit/human hybrids called Bunnels, Fai is half human half pfer, and through Veris’s route we know elves exist in this world.
The designs are all really cool, and like with Jellyfish Parade’s previous titles, this is a very diverse game—even though race/ethnicity isn’t explicitly touched on in the traditional sense—there is a distinct look to the characters that is indicative of more diverse cast of characters. Lute’s mother has a darker complexion and small curly fro; Cantrella, one the princesses wears a beautiful headscarf; even Fai is a much more masculine looking love interest than we’re used to seeing in otome games. Even within this fantasy setting, I really appreciate these little details, because it reflects a creator is mindful of how nuanced representation is—sometimes it’s the small details that really speak volumes.
One of my biggest complaints with Veris’s route was the pacing of the story, but in Fai’s route that isn’t really an issue, because this route doesn’t involve much of the political undertones that were so important with the first route. Fai’s story is much more contained, focusing on his work as a blacksmith and how his background affects the opinions of those around him. He is half pfer and because of their temperamental nature and destructive abilities, many fear them—not that Fai’s intimidating appearance helps all that much. This is a much more smaller story that lends itself well to a much more intimate character interactions. The way Fai’s relationship with Lyre develops is much more gradual and involves a lot of breaking through each other’s insecurities and and accepting each other warts and all. Honestly, I liked Fai’s route much more than I liked Veris’s route because this is a much more grounded story… and of course, I love stoic otome men. There is just something satisfying about breaking through someone’s defenses and getting them to smile or blush (and trust, Fai is adorable when he blushes). You get a lot of great bonding moments between Fai and Lyre in this route and I was a little sad to see the route end, because I really came to love these characters and this world.
After seeing playing through this updated version of the game, with all the new features and improvements I have to say that Heroine for Hire is a pretty solid indie otome game. The highlights being the immersive fantasy world, the diverse cast, a strong female lead, and just an all around fun concept. I definitely liked Fai’s route best (stoic boys > flirty boys) and if you’ve has been holding out on this game, I think now is the time to give it a go!
Thank you to Jellyfish Parade for providing me with a review copy of the game!!