Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda: Has-Been Heroes - Geek.com

If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you also have The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The new Zelda is a massive, phenomenal game that you can and should play for dozens of hours. But eventually, you’re going to want to play something new on your Nintendo console/handheld hybrid. Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda is a new column highlighting cool, smaller Switch games to check out once you’ve saved Hyrule.

I thought my confessional on why I don’t like roguelikes might be the last thing I’d ever have to write about the genre. However, a significant amount of the intriguing indie games coming to Nintendo Switch That Aren’t Zelda draw inspiration from this accursed unforgiving strain of permadeath RPGs. Beloved blasphemy blaster The Binding of Isaac is already available and soon we’ll get to play Enter the Gungeon and Tumbleseed and Gonner and who knows what else. So if I’m going to keep writing these columns, roguelikes are still in my future, roguelikes such as Has-Been Heroes (also available on other platforms).

Published by GameStop’s new indie label GameTrust, Has-Been Heroes has a slight but serviceable set-up. Players control three warriors, two of whom used to be glorious heroes before they got old, escorting twin princesses across monster-infested lands. Once you inevitably die, a friendly deity collects the souls of monsters you have slain and gives you rewards as well as a new chance at life. Roguelikes tend to find clever ways to justify their endless loops, and Has-Been Heroes opts for a comedic, Groundhog Day tone.

The story may be shallow, but the mechanics are the exact opposite, and somewhat difficult to describe in words. Three face buttons correspond to the three heroes in three different lanes. As monsters walk down one lane and can attack them. With the right timing, you can swap heroes in and out of lanes for combo attacks.

It’s a lot of coordination to wrap your head around, but elaborate attacks aren’t optional. Enemies get tough quick, often dealing one-hit kills once they reach you, and they usually need to be stunned before they can be damaged. So you’ll have to use tactics like breaking a monster’s guard with the Rogue’s multi-strike attack and then dealing damage with the Warrior’s massive sword swing or the Monk’s staff, all while making sure attacks will be recharged in time for the next closest enemies.

Combat is technically real-time, but you can pause at will to plan your next moves and reduce tension somewhat. If you are in a pinch, you can also use spells that shoot fireballs or multiply your attacks. In-between battles make sure to visit shops that sell random new spells and items.

These mechanics aren’t immediately intuitive, but after enough deaths and restarts, I did begin to respect their fascinating complexity. I enjoyed pulling off smart and efficient combos that made use of every party member’s unique strengths. It’s almost like fantasy RPG Plants vs. Zombies. I just wish this gameplay was in a game that wasn’t a roguelike.

I promise not to repeat this every time I write about roguelikes but it’s hard for me to get invested in a game where progression constantly slips between your fingers. I would be very interested in a proper RPG with these mechanics alongside persistent stats and spells and items earned. But fighting the same early enemies and bosses with the same base abilities over and over again is just boring as well as frustratingly hard.

I also wish Has-Been Heroes looked a bit better. The heroes themselves have nice cartoon designs and unlocking more of them is the game’s greatest reward, but the art style is a little flat and sparse. This is especially disappointing since developer Frozenbyte’s Trine games paired three-character, The Lost Vikings action with gorgeous visuals back on the Wii U.

If you enjoy roguelikes and are looking for a Nintendo Switch Game That Isn’t Zelda, you can disregard much of what I just said and seriously consider giving Has-Been Heroes a shot. And even as a roguelike hater the unique mechanics were addictive enough to keep me coming back more often than I would’ve expected. But this wasn’t the game to change my mind about roguelikes. Until next time!

Check back next week for another Switch Game That Isn’t Zelda.

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Switch Games That Aren’t Zelda: Has-Been Heroes – Geek.com

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