The game industry has seen sort of a resurgence of the beat ’em up genre take place on the current systems. We’ve seen Raging Justice show up earlier this year, and Capcom recently ported even a few titles that previously never had a home console release before. However, there are some recent games in the genre that don’t quite know what makes it fun in the first place (The ones featuring Cartoon Network characters come to mind). So where does I Am The Hero fall between?
The story focuses on a protagonist who is rather full of himself. Viewing himself as the greatest hero ever, he’s a been-there-done-that kind of guy. After recalling his previous adventures, he decides to investigate a hospital that may be infested with criminals to beat up. From there he comes across a lineup of characters that you’d be able to take control of once you beat the level they first appeared in. The ending also has a neat little twist that I feel makes sense for the kind of character the protagonist is.
Easily the best aspect of I Am The Hero is the art style. As much as I understand why people tend to stick with pixel art for indie games, I LOVE what was done here! The graphical effects put over the already-detailed pixel animations and backgrounds add so much to the presentation. The thirty-per-second framerate also actually manages to work with the game’s action better than I usually imagine it would for a 2D game.
However, the sound design feels weak. I mean, I like the sound effects I suppose; that cartoon-y smack sound never ceases to make for a good punching noise. The music on the other hand doesn’t really work with the levels they are attached to. Don’t get me wrong; it tries to rock out and bring in an epic vibe. Yet the actual compositions end up going in one ear and out the other. They simply don’t leave me with a lasting impression.
I Am The Hero is a beat ’em up played solely on a two-dimensional plane. You can only move left and right rather than in all directions like in most games of the genre. You’re at least able to jump high and perform a variety of attacks. There is also a good amount of enemy types you’d encounter throughout the game’s six worlds. With these things in mind, the game does have potential in being a solid beat ’em up all around. It does falter on some things, though.
While the game’s mechanics are sound, the level designs leave a lot to be desired. They feel much longer than they need to be because there is hardly anything there to make things interesting. Beating enemies up can be engaging but you’ll often find yourself wailing on them for longer than necessary. And despite the way the game is suited for platforming, there are no platforming segments of any kind; this makes every level feel hallway-like. Lastly, as consistent as the game is in performance there are a few instances of significant framerate drops that can really get in the way of the action.
Overall, it feels like I Am The Hero does understand what can make a beat ’em up fun but it also injects some elements that affect the kind of modern beat ’em ups I loathe. The result is a middling experience that can be a bit enjoyable if you have the patience for it. If the levels were shorter and had a lot more going on, I’d have no doubt in my mind I’d think higher of the title. As is, it’s a romp that seldom reaches its potential.
Review copy provided by Ratalaika Games