Since its launch on the 30th August 2012, Steam Greenlight has given indie developers a chance at sharing their creations on a larger forum, and for some lucky devs, it’s even given them a platform to launch their careers. At the time of writing this piece, over 14,000 projects have been released, with another 11,000 plus currently in various stages of production. Admittedly, Greenlight has come under fire in the past, for allowing sub-standard games to be released, but every once in a while, a real gem shines through. I Am The Hero is indie dev Crazyant’s maiden offering.
I Am The Hero is a homage to the classic beat ‘em up arcade games of old, with a modern twist. To put it simply, it’s a side-scrolling brawler. The game utilises the classic 2D camera angle, but skews it in such a way, that the right side of the screen acts more as a foreground, while background items are smaller in size over to the left. It’s a simple but effective use of orthographic projection, and gives a real sense of progression as the player moves along the different stages. The camera generally follows the player, but as soon as enemies appear, it fixes itself, and refuses to move until all the enemies on-screen have been defeated. Another homage.
As you can imagine, the story of I Am The Hero takes a back seat, allowing its combat to take centre stage. The narrative is simplistic at best, if barely there at all. You take control of ‘The Hero’, a man who wakes up in different times and places, when heroic action is needed. He offers very little information on his past exploits, and even at the game’s inception he has no motive for his assault on the game’s typically nefarious corporation, only stating that he ‘loves taking down evil corporations’. From this point on, the story is pretty much shelved, only coming back into play when a random foe briefly refers to their ‘boss’, and his disdain for the protagonist. Bah, boring.
The gameplay is what you’d expect from a game of this genre – repetitive, and at times, outright frantic. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s awful. I found I Am The Hero to be similar to From Software’s Souls series, in that it overwhelms you to begin with, but rewards patience and skill, and overall, makes you a better player. Aside from the at-times steep difficulty curve, the game commends combo moves, and makes it rather easy to string together enough moves to hit triple digits. You see, unlike other games, your combo doesn’t dissipate into nothingness the millisecond you take damage; it allows you a short period of time to recompose yourself, and resume the chain. As well as that, your train doesn’t die when the action does, rather it carries over from confrontation to confrontation. You’ll also garner the ability to perform ‘EX-Skills’; special combos that eat away at your skill meter, in exchange for dealing a ton of damage to whoever lies in your path. At the end of every stage the player is given a choice: unlock another EX-Skill, or unlock a new character, in the form of a previously seen enemy.
The enemies you’ll face range from henchman, to punk-ish teenagers, all the way to ninjas. While each NPC has different strengths and weaknesses, it’s made very apparent from the outset, that none of these will be as strong as the Hero. I do appreciate the ‘second life’ you’re awarded when your character dies, in the form of a tag-in/out system, but the gap between the Hero and these characters is just too obtrusive to ignore. As I progressed through the game, I found myself more often than not utilising my secondary character as fodder throughout the main portion of each stage, and saving the Hero for the beefier boss battles strewn right through the game.
To conclude, I Am The Hero is well worth the €9.99 price tag. While on the surface it seems one-dimensional, it offers so much more underneath the rough exterior that brawlers often have. Not only is the single player story mode available to you upon start-up, but also a co-op mode which I sadly did not avail of. This, paired with a secret online mode, and the vast array of characters and skills open to the player, ensures hours of not-so mindless button mashing, fuelled by an electric and vibrant soundtrack. Its lack of solid, or even coherent narrative lets it down however, and this combined with a not-so fantastic localisation job sadly rock the boat that is I Am The Hero. To end on a more positive note, I found this game, despite its flaws, to be an enjoyable and accessible experience, one where I could sink a couple of minutes into here and there. It’s a commendable foray into the world of video games by Crazyant, and with a filesize of 59mb, you too can be the hero in minutes.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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