Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic is a mediocre attempt at creating an old school RPG. It tries its best to deliver that classic look and feel that many games have been trying to replicate recently. It does this well but almost too well at times. Some of these are more noticeable than others.
The first thing you will notice is the graphics. The graphics are probably the best part of this game, they capture the old school look and feel really well. They are reminiscent of old NES graphics in design. For taking this route in design the environments are surprisingly rich in detail. This shows the best when you and the rest of your party are seen traveling. The character designs are not as well designed, this is mostly due to the random nature of the characters you will encounter in the tavern. The creature designs, however, are far more impressive especially the bosses.
The gameplay is where this will be most divisive amongst players. When you first begin the game you will be in a tavern where you will need to find people to form a party. The characters you find will be different for each player as they are randomly generated and have different stats/skills. That part is fine however the adventure aspect maybe too old school for newer players. While adventuring the game feels like the classic Oregon trail. During the course of the game, you will encounter random text-based scenarios that have a few different outcomes based on the option you chose. Such random events include coming across other travelers, and Some of these may lead to random encounter battles. The battles are turn based. You will choose one hero at a time to attack the oncoming monsters. The battles feel somewhat slow-paced. After each turn you will see the monsters slowly walk up to your party then they will start their attack animation. The attack animations are generic “slashes” over the character who is being attacked. It’s great that these animations keep with the look and feel the graphics established for the game but, a little more variety would have been nice. If your party is wiped out all your characters are gone for good and you must create a new party to continue your adventure.
The most annoying feature about this game has to be the music, if you could even call it that. The music is extremely repetitive and can be grating on the ears. These tracks get progressively worse if you’re in for the long haul. You will better turning off the volume of your tv and playing something more to your liking. The sound effects are not that much better but they are appropriate.
The difficulty of the game will push away a lot of newer gamers. Having spent hours with a character or party only to lose them for good can be aggravating. Although this does help the replay value as you’re forced to go back and create new teams. This might be appealing to some. Those of you who grew up playing old NES games probably won’t mind this too much as you are already used to this kind of difficulty.
There really isn’t much of a plot for the game which is a shame since it is an RPG. You’re kind of just thrown into the adventure. This is something many older games did so it might be trying to mimic that aesthetic. It does however have quite a few humorous moments. Pixel Heroes is often self-aware and has many in-game jokes/gags and multiple references to real people such as Miyamoto. I often find these gags to be some of the games best moments. These deliver a much-needed levity to the game, something that many other games unfortunately, don’t do nearly enough.
Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic does offer an old school feel but in some cases it might have replicated that too well. Some of the design choices are often archaic and leave the player wishing there were more too it. The difficulty curve might be too much for some and if that doesn’t stop the player from playing the music will. Usually 8-bit soundtracks are incredible works of art in themselves but this has to be the one of the worst I have ever heard for a video game. I can only recommend this game if you either grew up with old school games or enjoy them. This title definitely won’t be for everyone that is why Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic gets a 5/10. If it had a better soundtrack and possibly even a more refined battle system then it would have scored much higher.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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