Let me just say straight up, I love couch co-op brawlers. Actually, scratch that, I love couch co-op as a genre. As the ubiquity of online gaming has spread, so often multiplayer player experience is reduced to having a torrent of abuse shouted at you by a child in another country. There’s something wholesome and genuine about playing together with your friend, who is physically in the room, against hordes of bad guys.
Zheroes is, in other words, right up my alley. A beat em up brawler, with a sprinkle of platforming and shooting, it’s a game that get’s a lot right, but is held back by a lack of polish and variety. While it’s possible to play as a single player game
Narratively, Zheroes is as simple and direct as they come. There’s a bad man in a hat, he keeps making bad robots, an improbably large man and incredibly agile woman are going to stop him. Exposition complete. Start punching. I was a little put off at first by how simple the setup was, but it grew on me. This is a game that knows exactly what it is, and is charmingly upfront about it’s lack of plot.
That being said, a little narrative fleshing out beyond the bare bones that is provided, would have definitely helped sustain the players interest into the latter half of the game, where the game started to drag.
The art design is vibrant and hyper saturated, think Ratchet and Clank with more fist fighting. Graphics are probably the strongest aspect of this game, with it’s cartoonish palette and character design meshing nicely.
While the gameplay itself seemingly a decent depth, such as characters able to use shields and guns to mix up their play style, it never quite hits the mark. The most important thing about beat-em-up games is that the fighting is satisfying but intuitive, that’s what makes the genre lend itself to couch co-op so well, because anyone can pick up and play.
While you can certainly button-mash your way to victory in this campaign, the fighting never quite feels precise or polished enough, and awkward unlockable combos are more frustrating to pull off than exciting. This is true of the Level design as well, most stages feel like I’m pushing through a ceaseless horde, being given little reason to care. There is a decent enough spread to the enemy design, but since fighting them become steadily less enjoyable, their variety isn’t as much of a plus.
While the platforming sequences aren’t significant in this game, it’s lack of polish is apparent here also, as the controls aren’t quite responsive enough to avoid frustrating falls. This isn’t helped by strangely placed checkpoints which lose you a disheartening amount of progress.
The game’s DLC came packaged for this review, and while it adds an additional character, some news enemies and locations, the fundamental issues of the game remain the same.
Overall, ZHeroes is a flashy, briefly fun but ultimately shallow adventure that will certainly provide you with you a few hours of oldschool fun with a friend, but little else past that.
Released: April 2017
Platforms: PC (Windows 7 or Higher)
Developer: Rimlight Studios
Publisher: Rimlight Studios
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