Has Been Heroes-- a game that removes the crutch of playing heroes in their prime

So I was browsing GameStop at lunch looking for Switch accessories when I noticed a coming soon case for Has Been Heroes. Since my new Switch basically just has Zelda, I decided to look into it. And…it seems really cool.

It is developed by Frozenbyte and has a similar strategic gimmick for rogue/Mage/warrior swapping as Trine, but this time it is in a lane based conveyor belt sort of like Plants vs Zombies. It also has an FTL random map structure with branching paths, shops, and bosses. This all is encased in a rogue-like structure similar to Binding of Isaac (each run has permadeath, but meta progression exists as seeds are unlocked for future runs). That is to say you can unlock the possibility of using characters, spells, or equipment for future runs if you find them, but you retain nothing if, or once, you die. Any successful runs require beating a boss and you level up boosting the game difficulty and what baddies you can run into.

It seems to offer real strategic depth with a lot of things to discover. It will be on several platforms, but I’m pretty thrilled that Switch is one of them as it seems like a great game to play in bursts on the go or to binge on the TV. It also (unlike most current releases) supports the Switch’s HD rumble.

The release structure is weird though. It is getting a retail (physical) release only through GameStop, but can be bought digitally. Given the wonkiness of digital purchases and upgrading hardware in the Nintendo ecosystem, I plan to get a physical copy. Those could very well end up being similar to the original Xenoblade release, so heads up.

Anyway. It looks fun. Anyone else have their eye on this one?

Oh, yes! I read about this game a month or so ago when it was announced and look forward to its release.

Was just watching the Nintendo treehouse video and it looks really neat, but I had no idea what was going on.

This video goes through things much more slowly and deliberately and you can really see that you can play at any speed you like (as the treehouse video said).

Color me intrigued.

Yes, this is on my wishlist on Steam. It looks really interesting.

Haven’t heard of it but your thread title made me think of the Logan movie :-)

Reviews are starting to come in. They are, um, mixed. At first, and even though some folks love it, I was pretty worried with IGN’s 6.1 and Destructoid’s burning 4.5 hatred. However, from reading and watching accompanying IGN video I got the sense that there was a much lighter understanding of the game going on than in the above posted, dev driven YouTube video. I think the game maybe has a bit more going on than the phone app art style suggests and doesn’t do a good job of explaining much. Plus it seems way off of a lot of people’s radar which doesn’t seem to invite much effort to dig in on strategy. Maybe.

I did catch some streams by some reviewers offering glowing praise today. While watching I was rather reassured. It definitely has hard choices in dealing with map travel a la FTL while having a fairly unique pausible yet frantic lane based combat system. It was cool watching the steamer weigh things like if it was worth it to use the candle back track for a master key at the locksmith or to plan out an ice spell/lane swap combo. The boss mechanics and item discovery seemed rather varied which was reminiscent of Binding of Isaac. Although to some eyes that looks repetitive I guess.

It for sure has a lot of skeletons. It seems like the enemies are mostly generic bone bodies attached to many variable classes/specials/abilities as noted by the head gear. Thus you are more or less planning and reacting to stamina boxes and hp bars attached to an identifying bandanna, helmet, hood, etc rather than dragon, zombie, or whatever. That said, there are definitely non skeletons. Perhaps they show up more after some unlocks.

I’m not sure how the Switch will handle “mouse over” for item information, but other than that I think the Switch will be THE system to play this on.

If you look at that video I posted above, the combat isn’t frantic. But it plays very, very fast once you know what you are doing. The game auto-pauses after every attack so you can switch lanes, so there’s no need to manually do so, though you can. This is great, because you can play at your own speed, whatever that is.

One other interesting note is that it’s really obvious with this game when someone in a Let’s Play doesn’t understand the game mechanics (assuming you do as the viewer)

Yes, that video is great and I emphatically second it as recommend viewing to anyone considering buying or playing this game.

By “frantic” I didn’t mean to suggest a direct race against time as is it is a time sliced pause and move game. I just meant, that even in pausing and choosing there is an…urgency(?) to dealing with the ever marching lanes in a tactical sense rather than real-time sense.

I also fully agree with the obvious element of folks not getting the mechanics. It was cringe worthy watching one of the reviewers video feeds (as he clearly didn’t watch the above youtube video). It is a deep, yet not obvious game. In a lot of ways it is sort of mismatched with its app store type visual presentation.

Lol, I see you in Vellheart’s twitch

Hey! =) Yep, watching him has totally sold me on this game. Now I just need Nintendo eShop update.

He ended up winning a 4-zone game…think you’d left by then (around midnight PDT). I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that the game gets longer when you win. I wonder if there’s a cap on that.

Yep, I crashed by then. He was on quite the run though. I am fairly certain it caps out at some point. The devs indicated somewhere that even a full run at end game should be an hour or two tops. I expect a full game unlock will be something like FTL or Isaac with a handful of maps (that each contain several encounters) linked together. They just start you out slow with a one more map per run progression early on.

A nice bonus when playing on Switch is you can sleep mode at any moment and pick it up later. :)

I wish this were coming to iOS. I’m worried it’s going to wind up being a game I don’t play because it stresses me out (see: Darkest Dungeon)

Yeah. Watching that stream last night made it clear how intense it can be. One might even say “frantic.” :)

Lol, guilty as charged.

And I’m worried it’s not going to stress me out, because I love that about DD! :-)

(I’m not really worried, just hope it’s as challenging as DD.)

If you want to see a video of someone who has a reasonable idea what they are doing, you can pull up Vellhart on Twitch. His Monday stream has a full run that starts with about 1:36 left in the stream.

It’s up on NA Nintendo eshop now and Steam as of last night. I was able to sneak in a bit on the Switch.

The prologue is pretty bare bones, but from reading developer posts, they want players to discover strategy and mechanics over time. After that I only got about half way through one map and already I can say it is one thing to calmly watch the game and another to play it. I take back what I said about badly planned moves from watching others play. Yes it is fully pausible (you actually have to UNpause it after each move) but you still have to wait for spells and attacks to recharge. So, it gets strangely tense.

Also you can’t swap at will. For some reason I thought you could adjust lanes all the time to allow min-maxing of 1, 2, or 3 stamina hits (based on the hero), but you can actually only swap with a hero that is down lane after an attack. Hits also lower maximum stamina on monsters. Thus you have a sort of Rubic’s Cube of attack and swap planning going on while you nervously compare green sword timers and lane pushing. This part of the mental math was skipped in the YouTube video as the dev was prompting good swaps. I’m early on, and I can see this getting nuts later as you have to plan several moves ahead or you will find yourself tragically out of position without the “time” to recover.

The heroes differ more than just in stamina hits and damage. Yes the Rogue hits three times for moderate (but critable) damage, the Mage hits twice for very low damage, and the Warrior once for a lot of damage. However the Mage has 3 bonus effects that open up later (larger area effects, double projectile, and something else). The Rogue has two abilities. The Warrior has one.

I could not figure out how to look over inventory items once equipped, but I can see that maximizing these and RNG gods will matter a lot in runs a la Isaac.

HD rumble was noticeable so far as effects on the right side of the screen had right rumble and visa versa. I was able to sleep mode at will and resume without a hitch so it’s as convenient as Spelunky on Vita (well, except I can surround sound tv when I get home too).

So far, very fun.

You can make multiple swaps at once, though. From watching it looks like as long as someone attacks, you can position the whole team where you want, it just might take multiple moves.

I’ll play with that later, but I was running into trouble where I didn’t want to “waste” an attack timer just to open up swapping options. This is especially true as over damage on an attack (3 hits versus 2 stamina for example) deny you the stun, the permanent lowered stamina, and drops the damage inflicted by 10%. Basically, you really want your stamina hits to be 1:1 leaving an open enemy for a full strike.