A glitch in the system.
3D hack and slash games are nothing new, but when I heard there was one involving a robot with a heart for a face carrying a sword, well that just sounds like something that needs to be played. Heart&Slash looks and feels like any other action game. There is a jump, a dodge roll, and a bevy of weapons to tear mechanical foes apart. The catch? When I died, it all reset, generating a brand new level and enemies to face.
Yes, Heart&Slash is a roguelike in the most traditional sense. Every time I died the game generated a new dungeon, but with the same goal, to escape. Each run also spawned a new array of weapons and modifiers to equip. As players defeat enemies our protagonist gains hearts which can be used to upgrade general powers such as dodge speed and jump height.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
As I unlocked new weapons with each run, they would become available to spawn in the world at certain points. The game doesn’t do the best job of conveying how everything works, and it took me a few runs to get the mechanics and upgrade system down. Once I had my first good run though, things started to click, as did the spam tactic I learned to survive.
The biggest issue I have with Heart&Slash is the combat and camera system. Dodging out of the way of attacks feels off. I would try to time my evasion with the visual cues, but it never seemed to work as intended. I eventually figured out that the power attack would knock most enemies down, allowing me to wail on them until they started to get up, then rinse and repeat. While cheap, this tactic worked better than attempting to dodge out of their way. Sadly, once I reached the boss, it was an endless string of cheap deaths.
Named bosses are a monster pain. They deal massive damage, and trying to avoid them is nigh impossible. The only method I found was stick and move. Take one small jab, then jump to safety. It isn’t fun. When spawning with certain weapons it helps, but the random nature never guarantees I would get one of these overpowered weapons.
The camera also causes issues more often than not. I never felt a good turning speed, it is sporadic and combined with the frame rate issues on Xbox One, it was hard to be precise with any attack.
One thing I did love about the game though was its art direction. The characters all ooze personality and it feels like I am raining terror on a Saturday morning cartoon robot factory. The randomized levels are interesting, especially when I managed to get further into them. The soundtrack is also memorable, blasting hum-worthy tunes right out of the gate.
Heart&Slash is a fun game marred by issues that should not plague this type of game. Frame rate stutters, a sporadic camera, and a seemingly useless dodge roll are almost dealbreakers in an action game of this type. Still, when I had a good run it felt good, and I can see the intentions of what the team was trying to achieve.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.