Multiple paths, two default heroes and all the tastiness of ARPG hack n’ slash action — default heroism! Herolike is reminiscent of a game like Path of Exile, in certain aspects. A dark lord is attempting to take over the world via the Earth Stone that holds it all together, so the player must pick between a stout guardian or a sexy shaman and set out to save the land! Seems generic enough.
Herolike plays like a typical roguelike ARPG. Death is permanent, for example, and players can expect to be presented with a randomised world map with varying paths. The four kinds of random encounters one can expect are: fighting via carving your way through an array of enemies, engaging in boss fights, RPG choice-based missions and defending artifacts. In that sense, variety is being touted as important. The random generation unfortunately didn’t seem all that random upon initial inspection as many of the same enemies or scenarios presented themselves more than once. However, the RPG elements are pretty fun when they are taken. It adds a weight to the quest of the hero that most ARPGs seem to forget. For instance, you might find two brothers arguing over a satchel of gold. You can: knock one of them out, ignore them or rob them. Delightful, no? Your choices will affect your “renown”, which basically just tells the world whether you’re a nice guy or a jerk.
There is also the aspect of building your own town. Many of the missions and random encounters tie into this factor. A hero needs a town, after all. The customizing capabilities of the town, as well as the range of options for it are fairly limited, but it is an interesting aspect and shows promise. Adventure mode, the standard mode full of random encounters and combat, seems like it will be an outlet to get all sorts of upgrades and fancy trinkets for your homestead once the choices are more fleshed out. And if you can avoid permadeath, of course.The significance of building a town seems to largely be in building shops and in the fact that it doesn’t restart if your character dies. Thus, a character dying will wipe them from the board, but not their town. There is also a “second chance” statue in town that gives players a second chance in combat. Clearly, a town is an important feature, and one players are sure to spend a lot of time upgrading.
While the RPG elements are refreshing, the combat comes across as a bit stale after extended play. The majority of initial combat was spent running around and slinging spells from a distance. The unique talents and skills for either character helped make it more interesting, but Herolike would have benefited from expanded variety in combat and characters. The visuals are nice enough, with warm colors and decent lighting. The various biomes and environments across the map look good, but not quite at their best just yet.
Like Grinding Gears’ Path of Exile, Herolike’s controls also have players using the mouse for exclusive movement and mapped keys for skills. For those who are not used to games like Path or DOTA 2, as examples, this might take some getting used to. Navigating requires clicking or dragging the mouse to the desired position while also dodging enemy attacks and counterattacking. There will definitely be those who favor the WASD keys, so one can only hope key-mapping may be within the content coming down the line.
Therein lies the overall observations we took from Herolike: it’s good, but not there just yet. This is an early access review, of course, and Herolike has done well enough to pique interest on our side. The unusual thing about the game is that it hovers in that gray area for early access games. It’s not blowing minds, whether out of wonder or rage. It’s a game with a lot of potential should the work be put into it, and that makes it harder to discuss.
For what it is, Herolike is fun. Though the combat might feel sterile or repetitive at times, and there are only two heroes to choose from right now, the promise of more content coming from the developers is alluring. The game, at present, is a portal into what could be and those interested should keep their eyes peeled. When the full content arrives, we hope to be back on the proverbial horse and gunning for the dark lord in the near future.