I spend a lot of time on Steam. I am not talking about time spent actually playing games via Steam, but rather I spend what is bound to be a significant part of my life going down what I like to call the “Steam rabbit hole”. I have not taken an exact tally, but Steam currently has more games than I’ll ever realize – and that number gets bigger each month! This means that there are at least a handful of games available that would adhere to specific tastes. Herolike is one such game.
In an attempt to hybridize the genre of Action RPG with the subgenre that is Rogue-like, Herolike seems like an interesting little experiment in the making. Developed by Games Hut for the PC platform, Herolike initially has the semblance of any typical fantasy-driven RPG. Before I started my game, I was given the option to pick one of two characters: Guardian or Shaman. Despite what the connotations of the word compel, the Guardian race in Herolike is more akin to your typical dwarves. This is to say that Guardians are stout, long-bearded folk who wield axes and shields. Shamans, on the other hand, are represented as a lanky, rural-dressed people that wield staffs. In sync to their distinct visual personalities, each race is further differentiated by unique skills that alter the way you play the game. Guardians’ strength and defense skill points are higher than those of the Shaman, thus making them more useful in hand-to-hand combat. Shamans have higher ability skill points and more diverse magic skills than Guardians, making them better for more long-distance forms of attack.
As far as the story goes, it seems to take a back seat to the gameplay itself. Instead of any opening cutscenes, I was presented with the outlay of the story via a title card prevenient to the main menu. The title card is short and basically tells you that it is your responsibility as a “hero” to defeat the “Evil One” who has returned, and you must “retake the Earth Stone” that he has seized. This Earth Stone is described as a powerful artifact that basically restores order to the world. That’s all fine and dandy, but the fact that I was being presented with what seemed like important information with just text -with no audio-visual aid for added depth- made the inclusion of said story information as out of place. Though considering this game is still very much in the midst of Early Access, there is still some hope that would suggest that this could be eventually updated by the developers, who seem very susceptible to player feedback. But I digress.
Herolike, for the most part, plays like a typical top-down ARPG through and through. If I wanted my character to move to any position on the map I had to click on that position with the left mouse button. No matter what class of character I chose, each one had a set of four magic skills (with the possibility to update to five) presented to me as icons on my HUD. If I wanted to perform a specific magic attack, I had to click on the icon to select it, then perform the attack by pressing the right mouse button. Along with magic attacks, my character’s HUD displayed their life and mana count. Mana is the substance which allowed my character to perform their magic attack, and, depending on the skill, would deplete by a certain amount after each attack. A tad bit of rogue-like has bled into the way mana is maintained. As mana is drained, it does not replenish, and the only way to get any back is if an enemy AI drops some after they die, which is rarer than I first thought would be the case.
Other aspects of the roguelike come through in the permadeath system. If your character dies, there are no continuations, and you are kicked back into the main menu. Initially, this aspect of the game took me aback, but not for reasons you would think. The idea of permadeath was not what initially had me confused. Rather the transition of being sent back to the main menu was so jarring that I had thought that the game hit a glitch. Again, maybe something that can be fixed in a future patch. Nevertheless, permadeath is inevitably avoidable in the game. Serving as the main hub where the player characters can replenish their items is the Town. Aside from the typical items and armor merchants, the Town allows you to utilize your gold and building supplies to make keeps and vaults that assist from giving you more building materials throughout the game-to-levels and gold after each death. Each location varies with how much gold and materials it takes to build it. The least cost-effective thing to build here in the town is the Guardian Alter, which bypasses permadeath by giving me an extra life; and also has to be rebuilt after each extra life is used up.
Stages, or “encounters” as they are called, are divided up into four categories: hostile, friendly, defense, and gamble. Hostile encounters are hack n’ slash fights. Friendly are text-based story progression segments. Defense encounters are where you defend dungeon artifact from enemy damage. Gamble encounters have no visual notification, but can be any one of the three encounters mentioned above. As the game is now, there are also three boss battles on top of these other types of levels. To echo earlier sentiments, the Friendly story-driven encounters were a little underwhelming in their presentation. In fact, it was common to get repeated scenarios, which was a little disheartening, but yet again perhaps something that can be fixed in a future patch.
If I came away with anything from my time with Herolike, it is that there is still much time before this can be something worth really getting excited over. Still, if you are very much into games such as Diablo or, say, Grim Dawn, and if your interest peaks at the idea of you being an integral part of the development of a game, then why not give the developers some of your time and money?