A link to the past?
The Legend of Zelda not only defined a generation but also set the standard for action-adventure RPGs moving forward. While I wish that was hyperbole, it is not. Twitter, YouTube, or any social media platform is flooded with 35th Anniversary accolades or mentions of Zelda. That said, indie devs inspired by this legendary title continue to pump out games that capture certain aspects of Nintendo’s classic.
The Switch is not immune to this. Around launch, the much-beloved Blossom Tales released, gripping players with its tight controls and a love letter to the past. TBG even covered Shalnor Legends which tried to emulate the successful formula by recreating it down to the green tunic. Rogue Heroes arrives and not only wants a piece of the Zelda crown but also wants to reshape how people think of rogue-lites. Join us as we take a look at the latest Zelda-inspired indie.
Rogue Heroes is the latest rogue-lite to grace the Nintendo Switch (also on Steam). Players are tasked with bringing peace to Tasos by defeating the Titans who have broken free of their ethereal seals. How will you do this? Farming, fishing, and swordplay. The journey is not without danger but is worth every drop of blood spilled in this fantastic land.
Visually, 16-bit fans rejoice.
We are not stuck in the single-digit era of visuals with Rogue Heroes. From the onset, this title would look right at home on any 16-bit console. The environments are bright when they need to be, but also bleak and foreboding when the time is right. You (and up to three people) start in an abandoned town that you are tasked with rebuilding. Choose your class (with the right thread) and wander in this open-world adventure.
The biomes are unique, each of the playable characters is distinct enough to not suffer from the reskin, same old malaise. The world is simple but diverse and full of not only a mystery but enough intrigue to keep even seasoned gamers busy, reviewing this title became challenging as the desire to just keep exploring was, that overwhelming. The town you call home is calm and while not a full-on city builder, the devs have given the players a decent amount of freedom in terms of where buildings go. Bosses are big and intimidating, but your sprite is up to the challenge so long as you remain calm.
Controls-wise, Rogue Heroes is magnificent
If you have had any experience with 2D Zelda, then you know how to play. That said there are some quirks. Cycling through your inventory using the bumpers is annoying. There is no way around it. Early on, it is not that big of a deal, but once you have accrued a decent amount of tools and weapons rummaging through what you need in a pinch is a pain in the neck.
That said, the general controls are tight and responsive. Y acts as the attack and the R trigger activates your secondarily equipped weapon/tool. Each class is also outfitted with a power/skill that can be used to enhance offence or defence. The Knight can jump, the reaper can explode into a pile of bones leaving you to control a skull that rolls around to evade enemies. Mastering your offence and defence is key as is mastering enemies. The opposition can be killed by regular means, but if you use your Beastiary to deliver the finishing blow, then you gain invaluable insight into enemy weaknesses and bonus drops attributed to them. While slapping baddies with a book may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it works here in Heroes.
Audibly, Rogue Heroes is fine
While we would love to revel and speak about how this evokes memories of days gone by, it doesn’t. The score is adequate and at times good. Unfortunately, it never reaches the heights that it could especially when treading in the waters of a classic. The sound effects likewise, serve their purpose. All character interactions are done solely via text so you are left with music and effects. That said, what you have is ok.
A rogue not without issues
While reviewing we encountered a couple of soft locks, most notably when defeating a boss. Additionally, there will be times that your character teleports to the other side of objects. In some cases, this is beneficial as it solves puzzles you’ve yet to see, but the dark side leads to lava burns and spike pits.
The online can be iffy due to enemy knockback and the resulting damage that results. Touching an enemy causes damage and is out of your control once others are involved. The title has already seen one update with more promised as they look to polish off this diamond.
That all being said Rogue Heroes is a gem not to be overlooked. This Zelda: A Link to the Past clone is worthy of all the comparisons. The adventure is full of mystery and intrigue but the gameplay is the star and serves as king. While the farming feels tacked on, it does add to the necessary depth and reprieve from adventuring. Being a rogue-lite, you will die a lot. The early game is no joke. Toppling the first boss proved to be one of the hardest tasks the game had in store, but that doesn’t make the journey any less satisfying.
The rogue aspects bleed in as each dungeon is procedurally generated upon entry. That said there is a limited set of rooms so it becomes a matter of understanding the tricks. Upon death, players will spend their gems in town to improve weapons, health, stamina, etc. Coins The setup is fair and functions no differently than Rogue Legacy when re-entering the dungeon. That said, spend your gems in-game and on this one.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 23/02/2021
No. of Players: 1-4
Category: Adventure, RPG, Action
Developer: Heliocentric Studios
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop