Normally, tower defence games are reserved for mobile phones. These simple-to-play experiences are casually moreish while making your brain work. Moreover, the tactical elements ensure that no playthrough is ever the same. However, when I see anything from this genre on console or PC, I worry. Why? Well, the simplicity of the core concept and repetitive gameplay structure can become old long before you finish the game. As such, when I was given HEROish to review, I was somewhat apprehensive.
Developed and published by Sunblink, this is a deck building tower defence game. What’s more, it has a fantasy theme, some excellent narration, and plenty of depth to keep you going. Alongside this, it is tough to put down and can be enjoyed casually. Accordingly, it has captured the best elements of the mobile market, while delivering a rich and rewarding time for console gamers.
HEROish is a tongue-in-cheek affair.
The story behind HEROish is so crazy that it’s hard to explain. As such, I’ll allow you to enjoy the many twists and turns if you decide to invest. However, I can say there are 6 unique heroes and 3 campaigns to enjoy. Each of the characters is paired with another, and you enjoy a unique vision of the same story. Subsequently, your allegiances change depending on which side of the fence you are sitting. This was incredible, as such a small twist made a massive difference to the gameplay.
Alongside the individual paths, you play with a “faction” specific deck of cards. Therefore, you must adjust your approach and change your tactics for each campaign you tackle. You can pick from the good, the bad, and something in between. The good guys have a classic set of troops and the heroes are OTT and cliched. Whereas the bad guys have a villainous undertone and a creepy undead army to command. Alternatively, the final pair offers a happy medium that allows you to play how you like. Consequently, there is an option that plays to your strengths and one that’ll highlight your weaknesses. Either way, it’ll make you smile while testing your tactical nuance and patience.
Minor exploration and repetitive tasks.
HEROish is split into two key areas. There is the overworld map that funnels you from one location to another as you complete each quest. Then there is the battle arena that must be mastered at all costs. First, as you explore the smallish world, you’ll find chests and enemies to tackle, and merchants to upgrade your cards. Sadly, this approach never changes, no matter which campaign you tackle. As such, this was disappointing, as it set a precedent of repetition that the game never escapes from. Finally, the arena battle is where you spend most of your time. These combat elements were fun and challenging and made up the body of the action.
During each battle, the goal differed ever so slightly. As such, during one fight, you may be asked to fight a certain amount of enemies. However, during the next encounter, you may be asked to destroy a “Soul Gem”. Alternatively, you may have to defend your base from attack or defeat a certain boss. Whatever the task, the core principles were the same. Accordingly, your hero earns mana, and this is spent on 1 of 4 cards. Use a card, and a random one is pulled from the deck to replace it. This pattern continues until the mission is over. Consequently, if you are successful, you earn gold and XP.
XP and upgrades.
The backbone of HEROish is simple to understand. Effectively, you must complete the main quest line while improving your deck of cards and your hero. If you fail to do this, your hero will not fulfil their potential and the campaign won’t be completed. However, the developers are generous and as a consequence, it wasn’t too hard to improve the protagonist or your army.
The previously mentioned gold and XP are used to upgrade each active card and to level your hero. The latter option is done automatically and you pay little attention to it. However, your deck of cards is your focus, as it is the difference between failure and success. Fortunately, experimenting with your deck was easily achieved, and this was one of the best elements of the gameplay. With a vast selection of troops on offer, you can go on the offensive during every mission, or you can play it safe. Whatever you pick, there is no right or wrong, and this adds a fun edge to the action.
HEROish is colourful but basic.
With 2 unique gameplay areas, the developers could have bitten off more than they could chew. However, the simplicity of the overworld and the stripped-back nature of the battle arenas ensured that HEROish was never overwhelming. Yes, some of the battles could be hectic and hard to observe, but you never felt out of your comfort zone. Furthermore, the basic UI and clean-cut display make the action easy to follow. What was also great was the interesting sprites and the use of a vivid colour palette. On top of this, I loved the trouble-free action and how admirably it performed.
The audio was equally good. The soundtrack combines upbeat songs with some folksy and “ye olde” tracks. This combination of music enhanced the fantasy theme whilst adding to the drama. Alongside this, the sound effects were loud, brash, and annoyingly good. Whether it was the crashing of swords or the ping of magic spells, it worked perfectly throughout.
A genre that is designed for mobile phones cannot be complicated to master. Fortunately, HEROish does a great job with its fundamentals and excellent controls. Thanks to a simple tutorial and its amazing UI, you’ll understand the basics in no time. On top of this, the controls and inputs are responsive and well-considered.
Though there are 3 campaigns and 6 heroes to use, the game is concise. Unfortunately, each campaign lasts around 2 hours, and this wasn’t enough. Thankfully, though, the developers incorporated a 2-4 player multiplayer mode to increase longevity. With 1V1 or 2V2 options, you can pick a hero, challenge strangers or friends, and prove your deck building prowess.
HEROish is a fun but short title.
I didn’t expect to enjoy HEROish as much as I did. Its colourful environment, interesting characters, and the charming story kept me hooked from the off. However, I cannot overlook the repetitive nature of the gameplay. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough variety, and this holds the game back. Furthermore, the campaigns are not long enough, and that was disappointing. However, despite these shortcomings, it is extremely moreish and rewarding. Moreover, the narration is great, and it is extremely easy to pick up and master. As such, I recommend that you buy it here! Can you become the hero of your story? Control each protagonist, understand what makes them tick, and build an army of your dreams.