I’m not big on roguelike games, but I wanted to giveĀ Has Been Heroes a go anyway because it did seem rather intriguing. After all, it has a physical release for as little as twenty dollars; when would I ever expect that from a new game for the Nintendo Switch? That’s especially considering how the system’s only a month old. And despite the low price, it looked to feature solid production values and a style of gameplay I could likely get into and have fun with. Or so I thought, anyway.

Story

A young woman heads off to search for heroes she’s heard legends about. The heroes eventually appear before her, but have obviously grown old and seemingly washed up. Nevertheless, they’re able to take on baddies when necessary, but soon they – along with the woman – are tasked to escort a couple of princesses that need to go to school. I’m sure there’s more to the story from that point onward, but…Well, I’ll finish this thought later into the review.

Graphics

I’m often indifferent to medieval-like fantasy settings, but Has Been Heroes does have personality and charm to its conveyance. The visuals are colorful, and the characters have fun quirks and expressions. Most importantly, the game’s animations are entirely fluid and the framerate is at a rock-solid sixty frames per second.

Audio

The sound department is…fine enough I suppose. On one hand, I feel like the music would be more appropriately used in trailers than actual gameplay. On the other, the sound effects are strong and full of impact as the heroes land their attacks against the waves of evil approaching them.

Gameplay

Oh boy..here we go..

So, Has Been Heroes is a roguelike game with tower defense and RPG elements. There’s a world map at the bottom right corner, and along the way to the end boss is a series of enemy waves to kill off as time ticks. If time runs out, the enemies retreat, and the heroes get to move on. The battles themselves are managed by each of the three heroes standing in lanes separate from each other. The player has to strategically attack the enemies depending on their positions in the three lanes and which hero is assigned to what lane. If the player tries attacking an enemy, he or she can take advantage of this by having the attacker swap places with another hero and create a combo chain. It all sounds simple and easy to manage on paper. Keywords being “on paper”.

…………………………..

There are methods of aid such as spells that can help either buff a hero or lower an enemy’s stats. However, enemies can also differ in subtle ways such as being equipped with shields to block certain attacks. But even if you do figure out what enemies you would want to kill, you’d have to take the heroes into consideration. Not only do you have to acknowledge who is in what lane, but you also have to keep track of their respective circular stamina meters. Every time a hero attacks, the meter goes empty and refills over seconds of time. There are bound to be times where you think you’ve caught onto a method to prolong your survival by picking off specific enemies, but then you forget that the hero that’s about to collide with a couple enemies is still trying to recover stamina. Or maybe there’s a hero that you unintentionally placed in the same lane as an enemy still prepped with a means to block attacks. Or maybe the hero you intended to conjure a combo with actually can’t be swapped by the time the attacking hero is in action becaus-AUGH MY HEAD HURTS!!!

Has Been Heroes is absolute management hell! There’s so little margin for error and so many different functions to tap into that it’s very easy to overlook a small detail and have that cost the entire round! And then should one of the heroes die – which happens after he or she takes even just a couple hits – the player has to restart the entire freaking world! I guess restarting just that one battle too much to ask, huh?! Heck, can I at least roam around the unlocked parts of the map at my leisure instead of getting punished for it by making one too many turns?! Also, why the crap can’t I swap heroes to perform a chain when one of mine is desperately clinging on to dear life by attacking an enemy that’s uncomfortably close to him/her; when I need to do it more than ever, that’s when the game suddenly decides to change the rules?!?!

Sigh…I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just…Has Been Heroes really frustrated me. It frustrated me to the point where I can’t even get myself to play through it. And hear this: That shouldn’t happen with me. It really shouldn’t. I’ve played through hard games before. I’ve braved through Gum Guy, Geki Yaba Runner Deluxe, Slime-San, In Between, Sheriff VR, and the list goes on. From my experiences with difficult games, good and bad, there are frustrations that can still be overcome depending on how the difficulties are handled within the titles themselves. Yes, that even applies to trial and error games. But this game. This is something I can’t grasp. Every time I tried picking up and playing it for review, I find myself in the exact same situation. I try to defeat the end boss of the first world only to find my progress totally erased by my defeat. Every. Time. The gameplay itself is already repetitive enough as it is; following the tower defense model of hitting waves of enemies over and over again without a drastic sense of variation would do that.

Verdict

It’s actually very saddening for me. I really wanted to find the good in this game, and the production values are grade-A material in my book (Even if I feel the music fits better in trailers, I can’t deny its quality as well). I never wanted to do a review on a game I can’t gather the willpower to play through, let alone one with the promise and potential that Has Been Heroes carries. There could be a great game here if the lesser aspects were cleaned up and used for the better. There really could have. Yet, I have no choice. I have to have an official ruling on this game, and I can’t even pass the first world because of its extreme inaccessibility. Every time I went back to it to try again, I felt like I was doing a chore instead of playing a game. I hate having to say that. Alas, I just wasn’t having fun.

As such, I can only say I don’t recommend Has Been Heroes. It’s just not worth it. It demands way, way, way too much for a player to find enjoyment out of it. I’m sorry.