Platform: PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Publisher: Badland Games
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: Dark Souls-esque, except cuter.
Price: $15 / £10 / €12
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Heart&Slash features a lovable robot known as Heart,is stuck in a world full of mindless machines where the human race is no more. Our cute protagonist needs to fight its way through a colorful, yet desolate world.
Heart&Slash is a fast-paced 3D hack and slash (Pun intended) where players take control of the lovable Heart. While on the surface the game might look simple, it does feature a surprisingly deep combat system. As players progress through the map, they’ll be able to pick up a variety of weapons. Much like most games of the same genre, players will come across smaller weapons which can dish out attacks quickly, but do less damage. The opposite is true too; players can pick up bigger, heavier weapons which will dish out more damage, but take more time to swing.
Players can only carry three weapons at a time, which can be swapped out when finding a new one. Furthermore, some of the weapons are element-based, such as fire or ice. Some enemies have an elemental weakness, but to figure this out, you’ll need to look at their tiny, TV-shaped faces, which doesn’t make it easy.
Thankfully, in order to survive the progressively harder, and bigger, enemies, our lovable robot and its weapons, can be upgraded. Killing enemies will earn players scraps, which can in turn be used to improve the protagonist’s health, skills and weapons. Additionally, throughout the dungeon, players will come across a broken, flashing computer, which they can bash with a weapon. Upon doing so, Heart’s former master appears on screen and rewards our hero with either a new weapon or health.
This is where it gets all Dark Souls-y on players. Once Heart’s HP is deleted, he’s dead. And unfortunately, that means our lovable protagonist loses everything: weapons and upgrades. Once this happens, players are warped back to the start of the level where they can pick up new weapons off the bat in order to re-attempt the dungeon and hope for the best.
Players can’t target enemies, making combat in a do or die situation quite difficult. I can appreciate a challenge, but when you’re fighting the game along with the enemies, it does bog the experience down a bit. Controls are not as tight as they could be; in a game where players need razor fast reflexes and precise hitting, randomly hitting air can lead to frustration and losing a nasty chunk of health. This is also caused by lack of enemy targeting and problematic camera.
Completionists will have a ball with this one, as there’s quite a lot of content to unlock. Players can find a wide variety of weapons and equipment, along with new characters and enemy character profiles.
Unlike the challenging and tough reality of the game, Heart&Slash’s presentation is part of its wonderful charm. The characters, while brutal and dangerous, are all cute and blocky robots giving the game a unique visual style and making it a treat to watch in action. Audio wise, much like the visuals, the game’s soundtrack is cute and upbeat, enough to make players crack a smile despite the number of times they might fail.
Don’t be fooled by Heart&Slash’s cuteness: the game will punish you. While not the level of crazy difficulty of Dark Souls, the controls (reliable, but far from perfect), and constant dying will prove frustrating at times; it’s just more bearable than Dark Souls-type games. Overall, it’s hard recommending Heart&Slash. Players with limited game time won’t want to waste precious minutes starting over and over. However, if you’re a fan of Dark Souls, this could be up your alley.
- Very upbeat and fun soundtrack
- Cute and beautiful visuals
- Having to start over after every death
- Lack of targeting enemies
Heart&Slash is rated E10+ for Everyone over 10 years old, as it features fantasy violence.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by Xbox UK