Tag: Action & Adventure

Xbox Review

Heart&Slash Review

 

If you were a gamer twenty years ago, you’ll remember the days before saving states. You will probably also have one of two views about ‘the good old days’: either you loved how games challenged you to complete them in one sitting or you resented the fact that you would have to restart a game from the beginning unless you had the appropriate code. Completing a game like Megaman was a painstaking test of your commitment and skill and required you to learn all of the rules and tricks of the game in order to progress to see the ending credits.

Heart & Slash 4Heart&Slash draws influence from this era of gaming, removing checkpoints and testing you to beat the game in its entirety. It’s a unique idea that elevates the game from a standard 3D action game to a trial for only the most dedicated of players. Having said that, this is definitely not a game for everyone.

Playing as Heart, you awaken in an abandoned robotics factory in the midst of the Robolution. Robots, commanded by the sentient QuAsSy, have wiped out the human race and it is your job to put an end to them. It’s a simplistic yet effective means of setting up the hours of robotic destruction that await you during your time with the game. You must explore randomly generated levels, killing robots and acquiring new equipment.

As a roguelike game, you must get as far as possible through the level before your inevitable death and, as with other games of this style such as Rogue Legacy, when you die your progress is reset. With each journey into the world, though, you unlock new weaponry and items that will affect how far you get through the levels on future attempts. For someone who loved Rogue Legacy, I had been dying to play a game of this style again and, while Heart&Slash never feels quite as well done as Rogue Legacy, it definitely offers much more of a challenge.

The way health is implemented in the game is unique, as regeneration is non-existent. Instead, in order to regain health and make it that bit further, you must trade in weapons and equipment for health. This leaves you having to make choices about what is most important; you don’t want to die but you also might not want to give up that extra sword that has got you out of the last few scraps. It really pushes you to think about your priorities as any wrong decision can cost you your life and force you back to the start.

Of course, what will be the biggest turn-off for a lot of people is the implementation of permadeath. For those striving for a true challenge, this mechanic really is what makes the game difficult but those looking for something less aggressive might become quickly discouraged by the constant setback that death provides.

While Rogue Legacy was a 2D side-scroller, Heart&Slash is, at its core, a 3D Action game. Combat draws heavy influence from combo-based action games like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, meaning action is fast and fluid. Looking at the game from a graphical standpoint, you might expect that the games combat would be clunky, but it really is just as good as combat from the games such as the God of War series. You will constantly be on the move, dodging enemy attacks and trying to pull off elaborate combos in order to defeat your enemies without ever taking a hit yourself.

Heart & Slash 2Enemies are nicely varied, with standard and tank type robots as well as aerial drones. You will also encounter a number of bosses which require you to use everything you’ve learned to defeat them as you can easily be destroyed with only a few hits. Thanks to the threat of permadeath, each battle feels tense as you become determined to not make it your last. As the game goes on and you manage to upgrade your weaponry, the game becomes much easier allowing you to quickly sprint through areas that normally would have taken you much longer to navigate.

Unfortunately, the games camera can often be a nuisance as its hypersensitivity means you will occasionally restrict your view behind a wall or swing it wide of where you actually want to look. While this is only a minor inconvenience, it can cause issues during battles where you need to be constantly aware of your surroundings in order to avoid that one hit that might risk your chance of success.

The aesthetics of the game also lessen the quality of what is otherwise a great game. Environments are flat and void of life and generally it is not a good-looking game. The decision to try and replicate 2D pixel style graphics in a 3D environment leave environments looking overtly simplistic, making each new area feel more like a series of boxes containing enemies rather than an actual place within the world. The second level, in particular, stands out as being especially poor as it replaces the factory’s confined rooms with open outdoor areas, making for huge areas that are mostly vacant with the exception of the occasional enemy encounter. This also means that it is much easier to avoid enemy encounters entirely; I went through five rooms in a row sticking to the edges to avoid enemies spawning before heading into the next area.

Heart&Slash was reviewed on Xbox One but is also available on PS4 and PC

The code was supplied by Xbox.

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