Here we go again, another pixel art side scrolling beat em up. I am a big fan of these types of games and grew up on the likes of Streets of Rage and Golden Axe, classics that will live on forever and stand the test of time. Do we think I am the Hero will bring anything new to the table? Can it stand out amongst the crowd and can it leave a mark on the current gaming landscape? Let’s see, shall we?
You are a hero, well the clue is in the title of the game it does not let you forget it. Your character monologues at the start, talking about how he has been a lot of different heroes and saved a lot of people, very generic, usual hero dialogue and storytelling. You start investigating a hospital for very vague reasons that I am still not too sure about, the plot of this game seems very much a vessel to give you things to punch rather than a heartfelt story tugging at your emotions. I have no issues with a sparse story in a game like this and I have no issue with it whatsoever. If I have bought this game I want to punch things, not listen to loads of story, cutscenes and by flooded by emotions. However, I did really like what happens at the end of the game and it was a nice touch to finish the story off. So it’s definitely worth sticking around to the end of this short title to see the end scenes at least, they are quite good.
Gameplay is what you expect from a side scrolling beat em up, you navigate through your level left or right and kill anything that stands in your way. You have a combo meter that builds while you’re in combat and it was fun trying to keep that going as long as you can, evading and dodging your way to high combos is good entertainment. Whenever I lost a large combo I felt bad having to start it from scratch but Liked finding new ways to build it quickly. You have an energy meter which can be used to perform special moves and techniques, which were fun and always got you out of a pinch when needed. You have your standard bosses at the end of levels, normally with something stupid to say to you before you dispatch them and send them on their way. The game is rather short, I got 2 playthroughs completed in under 5 hours and I was searching for collectables so it could have been even less.
At the end of certain sections of the game, you are presented with unlocking a new character or special move depending on what’s best for you. A nice touch which kept things fresh and got me trying new techniques and strategies. Although you can only have 2 characters active at one time and I did replace a few characters and instantly regretted it, finding the new character having worse combos and moves. I found the game rather easy overall on the default difficulty, I could beat most enemies and bosses by just using the square button and trapping them in corners. I swerved away from this though and tried out more moves and mixed things up to keep me interested. More difficulty options do unlock after beating the game, it just depends on whether you’re still interested at this point and want to go through it again. I did due to me missing a few collectables but a level select at this point would have been a welcome addition.
I thought the art style was beautiful, I am a fan of nicely done pixel art and this game does a nice job of it. It’s all bright, well animated and the backdrops and levels are varied and nice to look at. The floors of the stages are not level either, they slope to one side tricking your eyes into making it look 3D and it’s a nice touch that I liked quite a lot. A small touch but that paired with the nice visuals made the whole game very unique looking and visually pleasurable to play through. Sound wise the game does a good job of keeping you engaged, you have crunchy guitars and old-school style music to brawl along to. I found some of the tracks really did remind me of Streets of Rage and brought back a little bit of my childhood. The sound effects are fine and suit the game, the whole sound package is nice, compliments the game and in no way hampers the experience.
The game runs well and I had zero issues with it but let’s be honest, there is no excuse for a small pixel art game to have performance issues in this day and age. Luckily all ran perfectly and I never noticed any stutters, frame drops or graphical malfunctions. I did once encounter an unkillable enemy though and had to restart the level, it was fine after that and I think this was an isolated incident as I never had this happen again over the course of two playthroughs.
Even though the story was vague and nonsensical I did enjoy my short time with this game. It’s art style, combat and enemies made the trip through the campaign an enjoyable one. The crunching soundtrack and plethora of unlockable moves and characters is a nice addition and keeps things fresh on your way to the finish. I did find it a tad easy on the normal difficulty but there are other difficulties that unlock after you beat the game, so you can run through on a harder difficulty if you wish. There are a few challenges to get stuck into and multiplayer to experiment with which all adds to the overall package. Trophy hunters will enjoy the game, I completed the game and got the platinum trophy in under 5 hours. That’s with playing through a lot of the game again to get some collectables I missed the first time around. If you like pixel art, which is very nice in this title and old-school beat em ups, you will enjoy what’s on offer. If you’re looking for something new and different, look elsewhere.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*