Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows
Has-Been Heroes is a game that, despite my disdain for rogue-like games, caught my eye quickly when I saw its reveal. Yes, it's a rogue-like, and I typically hate those types of games, but it's a strategy-heavy game, and that's something that I usually really enjoy. I wasn't sure about this one since it's got one aspect I hate and one aspect that I love. Fortunately, however, that seems to even out to a game that serves as fun time killer every now and then for me.
The premise of the game is that you've got a small group of heroes who, once upon a time, were legendary and well-known warriors who fought for the glory of the kingdom. Today, however, they're old and wrinkly, but they're epic wrinkly old geezers! The king has called upon these glorious heroes to fulfill a critical, harrowing task - escort the princesses to school! It sounds funny, but there's apparently a horde of monsters and an army of the undead between the palace and the princesses' school. Oh yeah, and there's an annoying fangirl rogue who insists on tagging along. But whatever.
If you've ever played Theatrythm: Final Fantasy, the combat looks very similar to that. It's not a rhythm game, but the combat takes place in horizontal lanes with each of your heroes occupying a different lane. Enemies will also come at you based on lanes. Each of your heroes has a different cooldown speed for melee attacks as well as different spells, each of which have their own cooldowns. Where the strategy comes in is that you have to attack an enemy to drain his or her stamina before you can actually deal damage, and you get game over if ANY of your heroes die. Your enemies will always outnumber you, and you're just a squishy as your enemies are. The only advantage you have is a wider array of abilities and the ability to act way more often; you can rush forward and act as soon as your cooldown is ready, but your enemies can't attack you until they get to the far left end of the screen. The aspect that allows you to craft more intricate strategies is that you can have your selected hero swap lanes with another hero, allowing you attack the same opponent three times in rapid succession, tearing through your enemy's stamina and HP in one go. The downside, of course, is that your heroes will all be on cooldown, giving the remaining enemies the opportunity to advance on you. Will you bum rush one enemy at a time, or will you try to juggle the horde with more balance?
The visual style is has a light-hearted almost webcomic feel to it, and that serves to accentuate the game's relaxed atmosphere. This isn't a serious game like Final Fantasy; Has-Been Heroes is a goofy romp from beginning to end. There's some serious challenge and difficulty presented, but one thing the game never does is take itself too seriously. As you counter and defeat enemies, your compendium will fill with information about them. The same goes for different biomes you fight through. You'll get a lot of game over screens, but it never starts to feel stale or repeated ad nauseum as many rogue-likes do.
In my opinion, Has-Been Heroes is an example of what a great rogue-like be. It's not necessarily a masterpiece game - it is, after all, still a rogue-like - but it's damn fun. It's light-hearted, but it's surprisingly deep in its strategic complexity. When you do you use each spell? Which enemies do you attack when? Do you switch lanes or keep your characters where they are? It's not going to be for everyone, but if you want a game to kill some time while you take a shit or pretend to listen during a meeting, you can do a lot worse than Has-Been Heroes.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.