There are a lot of rogue-likes out there. Some games flourish with this life mechanic while others seem to quickly become annoying. I hate to say that Heart&Slash seems to fall into the latter category.
Heart&Slash is a fairly straight-forward rogue-like with a neat twist. As you make your way through the game, you will slowly unlock weapons and other pieces of equipment that will be available for future playthroughs. During each run, you will be able to upgrade each weapon/equipment piece until you die and will have to restart at the beginning of the game with all your upgrades undone. This is truly the only thing I could not stand about this game. Normally restarting over and over again isn’t so bad, but since the levels are random and all the upgrades revert after each run it quickly gets obnoxious and I found myself not wanting to do as many runs each time I’d play.
Now, that’s what I dislike about the game, but there’s plenty I do like about the game. I’d like to start strong with the look and sound of this game. For sound, I can’t complain, everything sounds like it fits and I didn’t ever tire of any music in the game. In fact, I still enjoy the music in the levels now that I’ve put several hours into the indie title. Visually, I can’t stress how much I love how this game looks, for all the action going on the slightly lowered graphics handle everything without much stutter or noticeable framerate dip. I’m sure the less polished look was necessary to make the game run smooth, but it doesn’t matter if that was true or not because the look fits so well. Everything is very bright and colorful which helped me from getting too irritated whenever I couldn’t get the hang of switching fighting styles to fight different enemies, which is another thing I enjoyed quite a bit.
I have to admit that I would’ve preferred being able to pick which weapons I want to use for each run, but being able to carry three weapons and seamlessly switch between them is not a bad alternative. I found myself often switching to my Thunder Hammer (favorite weapon so far) to quickly dispatch flying enemies in one swing. Using this weapon switching mechanic, I was able to move from room to room without wasting much time trying to figure out what to do in each room.
Smashing enemies into little pieces of scrap was fairly fun through and through, but getting through many rooms like this without earning anything quickly became repetitive. To remedy this, I often used the mini-map to get to rooms that held goodies or were leading me closer to the end of the level. Not to sound bad but there’s really not much else to say about Heart&Slash. At it’s core, the rogue-like title is fairly simple, which kind of hurts the game in my opinion. Maybe I just didn’t get far enough, but the story doens’t seem very important or all that impressive. This is also true of the gameplay, which is very flashy and fairly fun, but it’s not very deep and that’s unfortunate because it means that people like me won’t be able to keep coming back to it to play over and over again. There are some bosses and even seem to be a few mini-bosses, but these don’t seem to be very complicated either and can be beaten by smashing them more than smaller robots.
On one hand, I feel like I’m being too harsh on this game. On the other, it is a little simple and kind of ‘samey’ which I feel shouldn’t be ignored. I think the idea for a great game was here but just wasn’t realized the way it could’ve. I would like to point out that I may not have gotten far enough into the game to find much depth, but I feel that the depth shouldn’t be hidden behind a skill barrier that not all players will be able to surpass.
I have nothing against hard games at all (hell, Dark Souls is my favorite series), but Heart&Slash simply doesn’t seem like that hard of a game and I couldn’t afford it much more patience to unlock more equipment. I hope to see more from these developers and I hope their next title is just as flashy as this one.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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