So, I’ve had Heart&Slash for about two weeks now, and really should have finished the review for this game well and truly. But the thing is, I have been having so much damn fun playing, that I have found it hard to tear myself away from the game.
Starting its life as a Kickstarter project, Heart&Slash was developed by aheartfullofgames, and released by Badland Indie on Xbox One and PS4 back on the 24th of June. Set 100 years after the Robolution, which is this game’s version of Skynet overthrowing humanity, you play as the titular robot hero Heart. Conveniently, Heart has no memory of anything that happened before he was born/made, and his first interaction is with a giant computer that contains the remnant of Dr Sympathetic, one of the original creators of the Robotic Race. From here, you are let loose into the world to survive and find out exactly what happened to humanity as a whole.
Gameplay wise, Heart&Slash is quick and fluid. Each weapon you pick up has both a standard and heavy attack, with Heart being able to hold up to three weapons at any one time. And there are a large number of different weapons you can choose from, ranging from guns, to knuckle-dusters, to hammers and swords. Each weapon can also be imbued with one of a number of elemental properties, including both Fire and Ice Damage. While the game does not give you the ability to lock onto any single target, once you get a handle on how quick Heart can move and the dodge timing for various enemies, this becomes less of an issue. There are also a lot of different enemies, with each iteration having a different attack pattern, strengths and weaknesses.
It is important to note that every single weapon or piece of equipment that Heart picks up can be upgraded. As you fight and defeat enemies, you will pick up spare parts. Once you have enough, these spare parts can be spent on increasing attack speed or damage on weapons, or increasing Heart’s base health (which on your first few playthroughs, should be prioritised as the most important upgrade available). And while the game punishes you, with each death being permanent, any spare parts that you have collected and have not used are refunded to you once you are rebuilt.
I find the game visually striking. The graphics are reminiscent of games from the golden days of the PlayStation 2, bringing a feeling of nostalgia while also being fresh and vibrant. The colour schemes fit with the overall tone of the game, and once you get through the initial closed corridors and out into the open world, you realize just how amazing this game looks. Sadly, the camera takes some getting used to; constantly needing readjusting, as it has no auto-focus mode, which can be very frustrating in a tight corner. Also, as you get closer to the walls, the camera will start to move almost unpredictably, which can mean losing sight of the enemy you are facing in some situations. This can leave you in quite the predicament, and if you are low on health, can end your current run. Annoying, to say the least, but it become less of an issue as you play more of the game and get to learn its idiosyncrasies. Luckily, the game is backed up by an amazing soundtrack that keeps you pumped and engaged.
As I said earlier, I have spent a great deal of time on this game already. The gameplay is fun and fresh, and the small pieces of story you can gain on each playthrough make me keep logging on to find out more. How did humanity get wiped out, and who exactly is behind it? How does Slash, who seems to be your enemy/rival, play into the whole story? And what other awesome weapons am I yet to find and use? Heart&Slash keeps me coming back for more and more, and even with each death, I am learning something new.
The Good: Fun and engaging gameplay, multiple weapons, intriguing characters and story, striking visuals and fitting soundtrack
The Bad: Steep Learning curve, punishing early game, No Auto Target, Finicky Camera
The Final Verdict: While the early game can be punishing for people who are not used to this sort of gameplay, Heart&Slash is a game that is well worth your time and effort. I only wish that I had been able to pick it up sooner.