Helyees is an upcoming Indie studio based in Helsinki. In April this year they released their first game ‘Panzer Hearts’. The game is set in an alternate reality where Ancient Egypt has thrived and mixed together with WW2 Germany. In this visual novel you play as Bastian, a young man who has returned home after being injured during the war. He’s eager to prove himself and joins a tank factory so he can continue to serve the empire. The summer at his new job will be unlike any other as he meets two very different girls, and questions the empire he was so loyal to. Thank you to Helyees Ltd. for giving me a copy of the game to review!
Where to buy? Steam ($5 USD)
Number of Romance Options: 2 romanceable girls, one ending for each girl
My Play Through Order: Astrid –> Nefer
Time Per Route: Common route took about 80 minutes, and then branches off to girl’s ending which took about 20 minutes to read.
Total Play Time: ~ 2 hours
Straight up, I will say that this is not usually the type of game that I would normally play. Most dating sims I play are GxB, BxB or sometimes GxG. I very rarely play games which are BxG. On the other hand, I’m also not a big fan of war stories, from films to games, I don’t really enjoy the setting of historical battles. So when you read my review please keep all of this in mind!
Overall I found the story to be really intriguing. I’ve always had an interest in Ancient Egypt so it was quite interesting to see how it was integrated into a modern society. On the other hand it took me a while to adjust to the WW2 Germany themes, and it was only towards the end of the novel that I felt a bit more comfortable playing as Bastian. Generally I liked the sprites and character designs, although sometimes I found Bastian to be a bit statuesque with his expressions. The music was also really well done and suited the different scenes, from the patriotic music while talking to the commander to more soft music in scenes with Bastian’s mother.From right at the beginning of the game I immediately liked Astrid. She was strong, cheeky and called out our MC on his BS. I immensely enjoyed her end-game story, although it ended a little bit abruptly.
On the other hand I struggled to see a point in playing Nefer’s route. Bastian’s descriptions of her seemed to be a bit shallow, mostly focusing on how she smelt (which I found a bit creepy) and she didn’t seem to have much personality. She just reminded me of a doll. I was particularly turned off her in one scene where Bastian is talking about his PTSD and how hard war is and she pretty much tells him to ‘suck it up’. The game also features a mini-game where you build a tank. Unfortunately I found this mini-game to be a little bit disappointing. Rather than assembling the tank I just clicked on the various parts and they automatically were put on. While the game is focused around tank manufacturing, I found the actual designs of the tanks to lack detail. Some of the darker coloured tanks just looked like blobs rather than machines of destruction.
On a separate note the game also features an LGBT character, Bastian’s boss Hans. I would have loved to see more of him and his relationship with the other officer. Especially in society where Hans and his partner would have been persecuted, I felt more drawn to them and their story. Hopefully Hans can be added in as a bonus route at another point in time.
Overall ‘Panzer Hearts’ was quite a fun first visual novel by Helyees Ltd. While the setting for the game wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I’m interested in what other games they put out in the future. Before purchasing the game, I’d recommend trying out the demo first to see if you like it. Having had a look at other reviews for the game, it seems that the writing style has been a bit polarising for players.