I ran one session together with my friends online (so, I am not an experienced player concerning Henshin!) and these are my preliminary feelings:
- This is an excellent game to initiate beginners to RPGs. I truly believe so because this game teaches to beginners core concepts that I believe should be learnt for the future as well, and applied to other RPGs. The mechanics that puts on the players the responsibility of choosing if winning or losing whatever confrontation is important to avoid attitudes of "Power Players" in the future. In Henshin! everyone around the table (real or virtual) has the responsibility and the possibility of shaping a great episode together. No dice required indeed to run such game.
- It is very funny, we laughed a lot! This is thanks to the setting but also thanks to the mechanis that allow the players to decide when and how to fail in a ridicoulus way sometimes!
- The players do not need to invest so much time in character creation. Narrators need to invest more (I used 4 hours as Narrator to create the setting and the first episode) but anyway much less time is needed in comparison to other systems.
- The quite strong characterization of the playbooks, aligned with playbook-specific turns, allows the players to immediately grasp the "feeling" of their own characters and interpret them correctly since the beginning. I loved the last three pages of the manual comparing the playbooks to the "masks/characters" of the Italian theatre, great analogy!
- It is a bit difficult to fully graps the mechanics if you never played Henshin before. I also listened to all the podcasts (4 episodes on the website) and some mechanics were not fully clear (for example, the "questions" in the caracters' turns). I understand that the authors are compiling a FAQ document regarding mechanics, which is very much appreciated and will help run the sessions more smoothly. It could be good to have one extra explanation page for players and Narrator (in addition to playbooks) to guide them in choosing the right turn for the right moment.
- Character growth/progression is quite limited.
I truly recommend Henshin! in your collection. I believe it is mostly suited for beginners and one-shots or very short campaigns, however also for experienced players (like me and my friends) it was extremely funny and a nice break from heavier and more difficult games. Let's Henshin!