I Am The Hero attempts to walk the line between providing a classic Beat ‘Em Up experience while also injecting new features and ideas into the genre. The new features it brings to the table are refreshing. I like a lot of what the game is trying to do. However, the core mechanics don’t hit home for me, which ultimately leads to a lackluster experience.
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
5 Hours Played // Review Copy Provided // $9.99
Regardless of the new ideas I Am The Hero provides, it is a classic beat ‘em up through and through. You make your way from the left side of the screen to the right, punching and kicking everything in your way. There is a variety of enemies, each with their own move set and features. There are also unique bosses at the end of each level to pump up the difficulty and close out the area.
The artwork and animations are great. The game is a mix between 2D and 3D. You are always moving on a 2D plane (left to right), but the farther left on the screen, the smaller/father away the characters are. As you progress forward, you also move towards the screen. It is a neat idea and adds a lot to the visuals.
That is a powerful upper-cut
Alongside this, the pixel art is done exceptionally well. Each character looks amazing, and the levels themselves are gorgeous. Each area has their own feel and style. I wanted to keep progressing just to see what the next level would look like. There are cool stylistic brushstrokes throughout as well. For example, when you get a 100-hit combo, a giant weight falls out of the sky to crush the enemies on screen in grandiose celebration of your feat. It feels awesome. And that’s why it is such a bummer when your combo is interrupted by something out of your control.
Boom! This feature is awesome!
The controls of I Am The Hero are where the game falls apart for me. The game uses a Fighting game style for the combat. You can button-mash your way through, but there are also combos and specials that add a layer of depth. I love this idea, and when it worked it was super fun. Learning when to pop the enemies up, how to juggle, when to best activate a special combo attack, it was glorious when it all came together. WHEN it all came together that is.
With this type of combat style, tight controls are a necessity. However, the controls in I Am The Hero feel floaty and imprecise. Even after spending a good amount of time with the game, I couldn’t get a grasp on how to accurately control my character. My button presses felt disconnected or delayed from the action on screen at times. The jump was the worst offender, which caused me to avoid it completely. [Editor – Can confirm this, I felt like a Luma the way I was floating around!]
Even the facial expressions of the enemies are great.
I would have also liked some sort of block or counter option. This would have fit well with the Fighter combat style, while also providing an option against having a combo interrupted. There can be multiple enemies on the screen at once, and it can be difficult not to get hit. Along with the issues with the button inputs, interruptions to your attacks and combo strings can be unavoidable. There are some options to help you avoid taking damage, like a dash. However, all of these options rely on your energy meter, which can be depleted. This means, there are points at which you have no option but to take a hit.
There are also sections of the game that are annoying. One area has robots that fly at the top of the screen that drops bombs down on you. You’re forced to jump and do air attacks/combos to take them out. Because the jump button is so floaty, it felt like a chore timing my jump + attack accurately.
Yes, officer, this section right here is the crime I’d like to report.
I did notice some technical issues on the switch as well. There were instances where I had caught multiple enemies in a combo and were kicking them all over the place. The Switch had a hard time handling the chaos which would cause significant slow-down and frame rate drops. This would affect my performance on combos and attack inputs, as well.
The story in I Am The Hero is essentially filler. It acts as a way to break up the combat and give some semblance to why you’re beating up all these people. This isn’t a flaw for me, necessarily, I don’t play Beat ‘Em Ups for their storyline, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Enemies attack with giant words. Very stylistic, but how am I supposed to avoid that?
It is a shame that a game with this much character and promise falls apart with the core components. Tighter controls and the implantation of a block or counter would have made this game a must-play for me. In its current state it is not an awful experience, but one that is too frustrating too often for me to enjoy.
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Zach is a dad, writer, and lover of all things indie. His favorite genres include rogue-likes, Metroidvanias, strategy, precision-based platformers, and anything with great writing. He likes games that provide a challenge! Nindie favorites include Night in the Woods, Into the Breach, Enter the Gungeon, Celeste, and The Messenger.