Rogue-like RPG, Has-Been Heroes, is challenging (review)

Has-Been Heroes
Heroes will do what is right. With the strength and determination to succeed, a hero’s only true enemy is time. When the kingdoms most celebrated heroes have aged and been forgotten, they are summoned one last time for an epic journey only they can complete. The king tasks the heroes to escort his twin princesses to school! Has-Been Heroes, by FrozenByte, throws you in a rogue-like RPG with a crew of has-been heroes who’ve seen better days. Their journey is not for the faint of heart. You’ll face an endless wave of skeletons and randomly generated dungeons that ensure no two journeys are alike.

One Last Epic Journey

The premise behind Has-Been Heroes is simple. You control 3 heroes as you escort the two princesses to school. Along the way, you’ll encounter a wave of enemies that you must either defeat or survive within the time frame. Each hero has his/her own lane in which you attack directly in front. And each hero is controlled by a button commanding that lane. For example, whoever is in the top lane is controlled by Triangle, Square for the middle lane, and X for the bottom lane. Choosing a hero by selecting the lane allows you to attack. You must decide quickly as your heroes are slowly running forward while the enemies engage. You can pause the action which gives you time to decide your next actions, plan combo attacks, or decide on which spells to use. And like true RPG fashion, each character will wait their turn to attack again.

The heroes can link attacks dealing massive damage. It’s a critical strategy that must be used to ensure success. Since the enemies carry a “block” gauge, combining attacks will help defeat them quickly. The problem with this is that linking the attacks can be only done in one lane. This leaves your other heroes open to attack on the other two lanes. Since the attack and spell actions are on separate cooldowns, you can use that to your advantage to engage or prepare a defense. And since everything is completely random, each encounter will feel new. Everything can change down from the vendors you meet, the spells you’ll receive, and the wave of enemies.

Simple Only in Appearance

First thing that needs to be said about Has-Been Heroes is how difficult this game can be. There’s a learning curve as it feels punishing if certain conditions don’t go your way. As mentioned above, since each encounter is random, you’ll often find yourself in scenarios that aren’t favorable. It takes persistence to keep going and push your way to the end. And if one hero dies, you’ll start all over while losing everything. This can easily put you off as your hard work appears to be lost. But after clearing your first wave, you’ll begin to unlock other heroes to play as.

Unfortunately, that’s all this game has to it. There are two waves and then unlocking a hero. Rinse and repeat, but after unlocking a hero, the game gets harder and another wave is added along with new enemies. I can’t count how many times I just turned off the game from how difficult it can be. Most times I lost a game was due to ill-timing or unfavorable spells. But once I really got the hang of it, each victory and hero unlocked was much more rewarding.

Final Reaction

What looks to be an epic quest of old heroes reliving their glory days quickly turns into a recycled run for more heroes. Which is a shame since the story in Has-Been Heroes is funny and enjoyable. Its gameplay can be unforgiving for even the slightest mistake, which you’ll either welcome the challenge or walk away from it. Had this been more about the journey and story and less about the endless loop of gameplay, it would be more enjoyable. But for those who dare take the challenge of Has-Been Heroes will not be disappointed, and it won’t be pretty either.

Rating: 3.5/5 Atoms

Has-Been Heroes is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam!

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