Part RPG, part plat-former, Vertical Drop Heroes HD is a unique new game for the PlayStation 4. Originally a browser game, Vertical Drop Heroes HD has players pick their choice of hero, randomly generated with various specs and weapons, to battle in 2D vertical scrolling randomly generated levels. You only get one life and then must choose a new character. Battle your way through, or down rather, all 10 levels to win!
The premise is simple in Vertical Drop Heroes HD, take control of a randomly generated character and fall down a randomly generated level to the bottom. Along the way down you will encounter traps, alarm flags that will spawn more enemies, locked chests, caged adventurers to free and help you, and at the bottom, a boss. These characters only have one life and start out at level one, so when they die, you have to start over. The nice feature is that you retain whatever gold and other new global skills you acquired. This gold can be used to increase all of your future characters’ health, attack, or upgrade heart power-ups. So with your last hero’s death, the next one will benefit from their trials.
The upgrades that players can purchase from random vendors grant new static skills, like the much needed agility, adding more speed and a double jump, for example. Each hero, when generated, will have two of these static skills. The others are additional abilities. Players start with just a super jump, but can then add an Ice Storm to freeze enemies, or Confusion, to make enemies attack one another. Some are better than others but it really just comes down to play style. Heroes are limited to how many times they can use an ability and they refresh per stage or with power-up stones that players run into.
The “disposable hero” with one life is actually a nice change. Even in death, I still felt like I was progressing as a whole by using that hero’s efforts to upgrade my next one. Over time, I started to acquire not only more experience, but better characters, so the early stages went by faster and faster. Players can skip stages if they like, but I don’t suggest it, the more experience your hero acquires the easier the later stages will be.
Over the years I have seen many mobile and social media browser games migrate to consoles. If a game is successful in one format it seems to make sense it would be on a current gen console system. This is not always the case. I was happy to find Vertical Drop Heroes HD is successfully translated to the PS4. The controller works well, players can choose to move with the d-pad or joystick. There is an auto attack feature, but I turned it off, preferring to tap, tap, tap as I killed my enemies.
The game-play in Vertical Drop Heroes HD doesn’t vary much with each different weapon class unfortunately. There are slight reach gains for a staff or spear, and the archers have a limited amount of ammo so most of the time you end up in melee with enemies anyway. I would typically look for the best skills and abilities when picking my next hero. Players can pay a small amount of gold to “re-roll” for different choices if the three heroes are particularly bad. The randomness of Vertical Drop Heroes HD can be a bit frustrating, but I found it forced me to learn different play styles. And also watch out for the rare high level monsters that can one-shot-kill you. It also keeps the game from getting stale as you repeat the first stages over and over.
The music and sound for Vertical Drop Heroes HD are the weakest aspect of the game, both are very repetitive. I ended up turning both off and listening to my own EDM music; it fit better with the fast pace of the game. The graphics are cute and basic, but Vertical Drop Heroes HD doesn’t need much to be fun. Players can pick up the game quickly and spend hours, or just a little time here and there, and still be successful. For the low price of $6.99, Vertical Drop Heroes HD is a great deal.
Vertical Drop Heroes HD is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PS Vita. This review is based on a copy provided for that purpose.
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