Years after the robot uprising, wiping out all of the humans, you awake as Heart a robot that still isn’t under the influence of QuAsSy, the Quality Assurance System. Heart&Slash, by AHEARTFULOFGAMES, is a third person roguelite where you pick up equipment and work your way through randomly generated maps preparing yourself to face a variety of bosses.
You start each round in a dark laboratory where you get three items. These can range from a variety of weapons to armor pieces that give you different perks. From there, the world is yours to explore, just be wary of enemies that spawn in each room. While you can run through some rooms and avoid combat, there are a few that lock you in until you clear the enemies out.
As you explore, you will come across rooms where you can get back hearts, partake in harder challenge rooms, and pick up more items. When you’ve finished exploring, you can attempt to take on the boss and leave the laboratory to head towards the surface. There are three different levels that you progress through, including the Laboratory, before getting to QuAsSy, the final boss. Be warned though because after you die you have to start way back at the beginning again.
You don’t lose everything during the resets. The further you get, the more enemies you kill, and that progress will unlock more weapons and equipment for use on subsequent plays. There are a variety of ways to give yourself an edge while you play Heart&Slash including leveling up your gear, leveling up Heart, and even by recycling unwanted gear. You will get a box of junk for every ten enemies that you kill , and you can spend that junk on upgrades. This gives you a good reason to risk your hearts and fight your way through all of the bad guys. Another part of the game that carries over from playthrough to playthrough is your encounters with Slash, another robot that seems to have the power to rebel against QuAsSy. You will meet him at various points, helping him get closer and closer to his own mysterious goal. The story is a light but fun journey, it does well to keep the player enticed until they get their feet and want to continue playing even after a resolution has been found.
While the game is a challenge at first as you play more you will find it becoming easier and easier. This is due to a combination of more powerful weapons unlocking, knowing the pattern of the enemies, and being able to start new rounds with more health or resistance to enemy attacks. There is also a harder mode that you’re able to start after clearing certain criteria, but by then the predictability of enemy attacks might still allow you to get through the game quickly. Once you know what you’re doing the way you can level up Heart makes it easier than most other games of the genre but that’s also something that will make the game a lot more accessible to players who might not normally be up to the challenge of roguelikes.
As Heart, you’re able to run, jump, and dodge enemy attacks. The controls normally work very well but every now and then there is an input dropped requiring you to make sure that you hit each button with purpose. In a game where your hearts are on the line, this can be a real frustration to face. Each of the different categories of weapons, such as swords, gloves, and hammers, have their own attack speeds, power, and combos. These categories will really boil down to the preference of the player as they all have their pros and cons, but it’s always good to learn to use what you get in any circumstance since you won’t always get what you want.
It’s always fun to not only pick up a new weapon and give it a test run but an even better feeling when you get your favorite weapon. All of the weapons are fairly well balanced so you know that no matter your style you won’t have a disadvantage, though there are a couple of extremely powerful arms in each category. Getting a mix of average and powerful weapons means that even when jumping in after a couple of bad runs, the odds of your loot getting better nex time around increases. This element of chance compels you to keep playing for that next great run.
One of the best parts of Heart&Slash, is the soundtrack. The upbeat chiptunes will always keep you engrossed in the action as you fight foes to the beat. The designs of the characters also fit this retro feel as even the 3D models look like they’ve been pulled right out of an old 32-bit title. From the smallest robots to all of the bosses the character design really lets you know from a moment’s glance whether you’re going to expect them to come at you for a quick attack or whether you have time before the lumbering oaf has a chance to even turn around.
Heart&Slash is an easy game to pick up and run with but mastering it and unlocking weapons and equipment as you go will add some more variety as you play. It is a fantastic entry point to the roguelite scene, and it’s complex enough that even dungeon crawling veterans will find a lot to love.
A fun third person roguelite that you will pick up to play a round and spend far too long trying to get just that bit further.