When a game takes a known formula and switches it on its head that game is often subject to either high praise or high criticism. And this is often what the developer, in this case Nerdook Productions, wants: to be discussed and debated. Enter me and my Vertical Drop Heroes HD review, a game that will challenge you to, literally, descend into chaos.
But how does the game deliver on it’s idea to be different? Well for the most part it’s quite fun to be dropping down and taking down enemies in a different way. But once the novelty wears off, it’s a bit average unfortunately.
See my thoughts below and let me know your’s on this indie game in the Disqus Comments at the end of the article.
Very occasionally the way a game is structured feels…. Off. Right from the get go, Vertical Drop Heroes HD (henceforth VDH) feels like a game that is built to throw you off of the things you thought you knew.
VDH is a platformer, and a combat driven one at that. But it also isn’t either of these things. Rather than navigating courses to test skill, the game requires you to drop from the top of its vertical map, to the bottom, whilst eliminating enemies and freeing friends.
You have to collect coins and potions, as well as keys with which you unlock cages that hold characters who are there to help.
You have your basic weapon, a ranged attack, which is limited to an ammo counter, and a special ability. Different characters have different abilities, and this is where the game becomes a little unstuck.
The maps are randomly generated, which means that certain skills will benefit you, whilst others really won’t – but you won’t know which. Since you can only pick from three heroes (which are also randomly shuffled) you may not get a beneficial special for the level you’ve entered.
For example, one map may have generated where a super jump is required to reach the cages you have to unlock, but you’ve chosen the clone power. And have three of you scrambling randomly around the narrow area where three ‘alarm markers’ are, and now you have a lot more enemies to deal with, but cannot do everything in this ‘shuffle’.
When you do die, usually because potion spawning is random. You’ll have to select a character, you’ll be offered the same character again (with a numerical name add on and reset level) or two other characters.
But again, the levels are shuffled so you’ll either find that the levels are too easy, or you simply don’t do much of the extra stuff. Because your new character cannot take on that many enemies, or that cage cannot be reached with your current powers.
The game looks very pretty, this isn’t something that I should be so surprised about, but I have played a lot of games from similarly sized developers (and even some bigger ones) that don’t look and sound anything like as polished as VDH.
The enemies are cool to look at, and the bosses are nice to see – although, they present another double edge sword. The randomness of the levels sometimes lead to hide away areas where you can attack the boss, but they cannot hurt you, rendering challenge moot.
Often I start playing a game and go through a range of reactions to the same game, and more and more as I persisted with VDH I felt frustrated, all the ingredients for a perfectly playable and enjoyable platformer are there, but unfortunately the game conspires to stick to its niche.
This is my biggest complaint about Roguelikes and randomly generated games – only generate within a parameter – for example, if the levels were shuffled based on the character you picked, to ensure at least that the player (if they have the skill) can complete the stage to 100%.
If it was an issue of my skill being at fault I would have accept this game of a much higher rating than I current give it in my mind, but when the ‘shuffle’ of the levels makes it impossible (depending on character) to clear 100% of a stage, thus reducing a level to maybe 40 or 50 seconds of gameplay, it feels like a farce.
Still, it’s fun and certainly something a bit different so maybe worth a look for what they are charging. Check out my scores below and drop me a comment with what you think of this one.
About This Vertical Drop Heroes HD Review
Game Reviewed: Vertical Drop Heroes HD Digital Download – Provided By Publisher
Developers & Publishers: Nerdook Productions
Gaming Platform: PC Games, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: Platform & Puzzle
Vertical Drop Heroes HD Verdict
Graphics - 6/10
Gameplay - 6.5/10
Fun Factor - 7/10