Vertical Drop Heroes HD Review

Vertical Drop Heroes HD Review

In the procedural platformer RPG hybrid Vertical Drop Heroes HD, (now up for voting on Steam Greenlight), players have three randomly generated heroes to choose from.  Each has their own name, weapon, HP, skill set, and perks.  Once you choose your avatar you are dropped into a stage, which acts as a hub for your adventure.  Here, you can buy upgrades for weapon damage, HP, and learn about your special moves.  The portal — which allows you to venture into a realm where numerous enemies await– is also here.  Whenever you die, this is where you’ll respawn.

You control your mini hero with the directional buttons, and moves are set to Z, X, and C.  Vertical Drop Heroes HD also has controller support, which is a nice touch!  You have the ability to move left and right, jump, perform a basic slash, and two special attacks.  To start with, you usually have arrows or daggers, and the ability to jump higher and break blocks.

When you enter the dungeon, you move and jump from platform to platform.  Enemies usually patrol these areas, walking back and forth, waiting for you to approach them.  Battles are quick, and ensue once you are within striking range, which is usually just a few pixels away from the characters face.  There are also poles, with skulls on top of them.  If you happen to rush past one of these “alarms”, monsters will spawn all around you and havoc can break out without a moment’s notice.  It gets really hectic.

The object of each level is to fall, vertically. Instead of the standard sidescrolling that most are use to, you drop down, as the screen follows your descent.  And what a dangerous plunge it is!  You never really know what you’ll be falling onto, or into.  The randomly generated worlds of Vertical Drop Heroes HD are filled with spike traps, lava, water, flaming platforms, fiery geysers, breakable blocks, and stone-faces that spit a barrage of darts.

Aside from the many dangers in Vertical Drop Heroes HD, there are a few helpful items that can help ease the craziness.  First, there are coins and pacifist orbs.  Coins are your only means of upgrading abilities, while pacifist orbs remain on the stage and grant experience points, until you kill your first enemy.  Once you dispatch your first baddie, pacifist orbs will disappear completely from the stage.  Killing an enemy will also give you experience points, which allows you to level up when enough experience is gathered.

Runes can be activated by using a few coins.  These large stone tablets can send off bursts of lightning or ice to kill nearby foes, turn you into a shadow to grant a few moments of invincibility, or fly until you’re damaged.  These can be really helpful in a pinch, when swarms of enemies fill the screen and you’re moments from death.

To aid in your adventure, an old woman will sell you various attack upgrades.  She can be found at various points in each stage.  Each attack upgrade is carried over to all your future heroes, and grants abilities such as reduced damage from spikes, being able to open chests without keys, summoning dragons, and shooting bolts of magic.  These are necessary purchases if you wish to create stronger soldiers.

You inevitably come upon a monster that is larger than anything you’ve yet encountered: the boss. Bosses are hulking creatures that move about at the very bottom of the stage.  Once defeated, they drop red gems that grant more gold than the standard coin.  A portal opens up, and you move on to the next stage.  Oh, and when you die, and you will most certainly die, you must pick another randomly generated hero and restart from the beginning.  Welcome to Vertical Drop Heroes HD.

I enjoyed the amount of abilities that the developers added to Vertical Drop Heroes HD.  You have a huge arsenal of attacks and skills at your disposal, which makes every hero you come across unique.  You can choose from archers, swordsmen, gunners, or pick axe wielding warriors ready to prove that they are the chosen one. For the most part, I tried to stick to a warrior that had duel blades, Ice Age (greatest move in the entire game), Greedy, Lock Pick, and the ability to take less damage from spikes.

The action gets crazy.  Every stage has a different handicap; whether it’s enemies exploding into killer flies when they die, or creatures that have half HP – but double the attack damage — you will always need to keep you wits about you.  No matter what character you decide to venture forth with, it is never simple or easy.  Leveling up gives you an edge, but the goblins, penguins, bats, thieves, spikes, bombs, and other villainous contraptions will always keep you on your toes.  Always.

I love the design!  It’s a colorful, cartoony world.  Characters, NPCs, and enemies are squished, with tiny bodies, giant heads, and massive weapons in hand.  The music works well with the visuals, and the effects, from the explosions to the projectiles, everything has its own unique look that has a lot of cute charm.  Vertical Drop Heroes HD reminds me of Scribblenauts, if it were mixed with Lord of the Rings.

As much as I liked it overall, the random nature of the characters made Vertical Drop Heroes HD harder than it needed to be.  It was a bit frustrating not being able to control the outcome of my hero’s stats.  I wish there was a way to perfectly craft your soldier from the bits and pieces you receive from exploration and spending your hard earned money, rather than having your would-be hero simply slapped together and wishing for the best.  I spent way more cash than I liked hoping to create a randomly assigned hero of my choosing.  Add to this that the hero always starts back at level one after every death, and the game begins to feel punishing.  The brief moments of grinding, leveling up, and slashing through countless enemies yields only gold for all your hard work.

Truthfully, it adds lots of replay value, forces you to mix and match skills, and allows you to use different character builds to traverse the horde of relentless baddies.  But, with the game being really fast paced and difficult, choosing which skills to bring along at any given playthrough would have made the whole experience more enjoyable.

Vertical Drop Heroes HD is a really fun game, with fast paced action and challenging gameplay.  It can be frustrating, but it adds a unique twist to the platforming genre, as you constantly need to change your play style in order to accommodate your current hero.  I’ve personally never played anything like it. In the end, it’s an enjoyable game with tons of replay value, and a lot to offer in terms of style and gampelay.

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