Boy…reviewing roguelikes is rough.
Pixel Heroes: Byte and Magic is a turn-based, fantasy RPG that just came out on consoles and is a game that I was unable to beat – full disclosure. After half-dozen attempts, on its easiest difficulty (aptly-named “hard”), I saw a pattern and preferred not to waste any more time on further attempts.
Platform: Xbox One, PS4, Mobile
Price I’d Pay: I’d skip it
In Pixel Heroes, you guide 3 adventurers as they go from fetch quest to fetch quest. The randomly generated heroes fit your standard fantasy roles, and if they all die, the game is over –they’re gone forever. As they travel to the dungeons, they will always come across three randomly generated characters with which you have a few options of interacting with. Some may attack you, some may need your help with a fight, or some might just want to talk.
In the dungeons – where every fetch quest will lead you – you fight through 8 rooms of turn-based combat with a boss at the end. Only one hero can pull off a move per turn, and they need a turn to rest before they can do anything again. Each hero has two weapon slots and two class-specific abilities.
Abilities and weapons can apply a wide variety of damage types and status effects, but the combat feels simplistic and monotonous. I would attack with the weapon that is dealing the most damage, heal who was hit on my team, then repeat.
Knowing exactly what the enemies are resistant to and what they are vulnerable to can’t be found out until you deal damage during combat. If you find yourself in trouble with no effective weapons, you can’t switch out during combat and you can’t retreat. You’re also limited to 20 items in your backpack and it’s essential that you also carry stuff to sell.
The overall difficulty is hard– for sure – but manageable early in the game. Then, at the same time in every playthrough, the dungeon enemies would deal damage that I could not keep up with.
The characters that you come across on your travels are entertaining but they repeat quite often, and I quickly memorized what each decision in the interaction would lead to. Later in the game, they should just be ignored entirely. One time, I impulsively decided to fight the grim reaper. He insta-killed my group which – honestly – I should have seen coming. But another time, a beetle took my hero from full health to nothing, with one bite.
Pixel Heroes: Byte and Magic simply decides when it’s your time to die and doesn’t equip you with enough tools for a fair fight. The combat is not strategic enough to justify the difficulty. The characters fleeting charm doesn’t justify the headache.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.