One Way Heroics (PC) review
"Can be replayed many times thanks to the distinct class powers"
One Way Heroics is a traditional turn-based roguelike (minus the ascii) with a few gimmicks. The main one is that you must constantly move to the right or risk being swallowed by the darkness which spreads forward from the left side of the screen. If you go into that darkness, you die, so you must always be pressing forward. It's like a roguelike by way of a classic scrolling-screen level from a Mario game. The other cool gimmick is that the last boss is on a timer. When the little clock timer in the corner of the screen runs out, the demon lord will appear and attack you. He only attacks briefly though before retreating and resetting the timer, meaning when you are at low levels you must run away, at medium levels you can try to chip away at his hp while running, and at high levels you can try to face him head on and close in for the kill, which triggers the end of the game. It's a pretty cool system that lets you always have the end of the game in sight. In some runs I chipped away at the boss's hp over many encounters, and in others I eventually found myself with enough resources that if I played my cards right I could take out his whole hp bar in one epic and dangerous confrontation.
At the beginning of the game you pick a class and then a bunch of perks. The classes (which you unlock either by doing certain in-game achievements or by spending hero points, which you gain at the end of each run) vary pretty widely in their abilities. They have different starting stats, which actually makes a pretty big difference in this game, and they also have different unique powers. For example, the first class I used was the knight who is super great at using shields and has a skill that sends their defense through the roof for a few turns. Contrast that with the second character I used, the hunter, who can see where off-screen enemies are and their hp, and starts with a bow and arrows. They play totally differently, with one great at up-close combat and the other great at avoiding conflict and taking out targets from a distance. Other classes you unlock, are even more different, like the bard, who starts with a charisma stat high enough to recruit characters into your party and the ability to see where recruitable characters are. Both having high charisma and finding recruitable characters are pretty hard as any other class, but the bard can quickly gather a party of multiple warriors to help you out. The swordmaster is really great with melee weapons, and there are classes that are great at swimming or mountain climbing (which almost all other characters are terrible at), good at lock picking, or have access to elite shops with high-end items. Once your character is set up, you generate a random world, or pick out one of the daily worlds with special characteristics (such as higher difficulty with better drops, or recruitable characters spawning at the beginning of the game), or manually input a seed code to generate a world you heard about online.
The game looks like a SNES rpg world map. It features towns and dungeons and distances between them that are way out of scale. Each square you move on the grid must represent a mile or something. But when you walk into a town or dungeon, there is no change to a different scale; you can suddenly see the interior and find yourself in a tiny town made up of a few residents and shops or a small dungeon filled with monsters and treasure chests and (hopefully) an exit on the other side. Each turn spent shopping or hacking your way through the dungeon hastens the encroaching darkness, lending a big sense of urgency to both dungeon diving and wheeling and dealing in the shops. If there's not another exit in the other side of the town, you have to make sure you leave yourself enough time to walk back to the entrance (or slowing dig through the wall). And if you're in a dungeon, you have to find the exit before the darkness catches up to you, which can be a little scary as you can only see so far in a dungeon with more becoming visible as you go through it.
And of course, like all turn-based roguelikes, each time you take a step or an action, so do all the enemies. If you've never played a game like this before, it's a pretty neat system. It basically seems real time if you are alone on the screen. You can walk freely in any direction. But once you run into another character, you'll see that each time you take a step, perform an attack, or use an item, each enemy gets a turn and steps toward you or attacks you. The game also has a deft system for characters with different speeds; if an enemy is about to take 2 turns to your 1, they will have a little “x2” floating over them, and if you are about to take 2 turns to their 1, they will have a little “stopped” floating over their head. Enemy turns go by in rapid fire succession, and you're usually back to your turn in less than a second, so forget your idea of slow turn-based games where you wait around for your turn. But often times you will want to slow things down and make sure you choose your next step, attack, or item usage carefully, as in many fights you could be killed with just a false step or two.
Although death in One Way Heroics is not as punitive as in other roguelikes. It doesn't really have permadeath. There are save points, and you can always roll back to them if you die. However, save points are few and far between. Or at least they can be; they mainly appear in towns, and it can sometimes be a very long time before you find a town, especially if you get really far into the game where they become less frequent. I'm sure a lot of people might find the lack of permadeath a turn off, but it works here as saving feels like just another resource you have to scrounge for like all the others.
Speaking of resources, you'll be managing three basic status bars in the game. Your HP regenerates every couple of turns at an amount based on one of your stats, so you can heal up pretty quickly just by doing nothing and avoiding combat (although the constantly chasing darkness means you can't use the old roguelike trick of holding still and passing turns to heal up). Then you have an ST bar, which you spend to use abilities. This includes spells you learn, class specific skills, and the “awakening” ability that all characters have, which freezes time for 5 turns but can only be used 5 times per game (which is actually a really compelling little mechanic that lets you survive almost any situation if you're willing to blow all your uses at once). ST also heals itself over time. But neither HP or ST will heal if your energy gets to low. You regain energy by eating food items, and keeping enough food in you inventory is key. You might have to learn the hard way once or twice, but after you realize how important food is, you will start prioritizing it and in general it will be easy to keep your larders full.
Managing weapons and armor is interesting, as even the most powerful items and weapons will eventually break from wear and tear. This makes sure even your uber weapon doesn't break the game. It's a good idea to always be grooming a new set of weapons and armor for when yours eventually break. You can use scrolls to add characteristics to your weapons, and adding a bunch of characteristics can make them really powerful, or even repair them.
There are a ton of other systems at play in One Way Heroics, including alternate victory conditions, a weight systems that dictates what you can carry, altars you can use to trade levels for higher stats, random events, wandering npc's that may or may not attack you based on your actions, terrain effects, a dimensional vault that lets you carry items between runs, party members (who attack when you attack to do extra damage) you can recruit with story lines you can complete (some of which are quite cool), lots of emergent gameplay interactions, and a surprisingly deep story behind the game's seemingly gimicky concept that you can unravel through some really interesting gameplay mechanics, but I'm not going to go into much detail on all these things. Just know they are there and they are well done.
I was really into One Way Heroics for quite awhile, but I noticed that the content started getting more... sexual... as I got into the later game content. There is a spell you can't really get until you've played a bunch that makes you get naked and become more powerful because of it, and beating the game as the character with this spell leads to a nude dude with an interestingly placed sword adorning the game clear screen. Some of the party members you recruit also have some innuendo to say to you, and all these things together were a bit too much for me, as I usually try to avoid this type of content in games. There is no explicit nudity or overly explicit talk, but it was enough that despite the fact I wanted to do more of the late game content, I decided to quit. That was almost 25 hours in though, so I really had a great run with the game before I ended up quitting.
I had a great time with One Way Heroics while it lasted. It's fast paced and has a lot of interesting twists going for it that make it feel really fresh. It also can be replayed many times thanks to the distinct class powers and the random content. And the art style and music (which changes smartly based on what enemies you face and where you are) are very good. The HUD is especially cool; it's extremely crowded with all kinds of info but somehow works great and gets you all the info you need. Making high powered gear is fun, and choosing what items you want to carry over between playthroughs with the dimensional vault is cool, but if feels just as fun to dial up a random dimension and take off without any carried over equipment. I had a lot of varied experiences playing the game in all kinds of ways, from a near invincible party of adventurerers to weak characters that had to run away from conflict. It was a shame I felt I wanted to stop due to some late game content, but I had a great time up until then. It earns a 4 out of 5 stars.
Community review by Robotic_Attack (June 04, 2016)
Robotic Attack reviews every game he plays... almost.
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