Vertical Drop Heroes HD – What We Think
In a world where Roguelike games are a dime a dozen, it’s important to twist the genre and become something slightly different in order to stand out. Vertical Drop Heroes HD does just that, rewarding players as they progress down a randomly-generated level to defeat giant bosses, obtain riches, and upgrade future heroes should one meet their untimely demise.
Years gone by
Developed by Nerdook Productions, the concept of Vertical Drop Heroes started out as a flash game published back in September of 2010 for the website Kongregate. You still go down, down, down in the HD version that was published in April of this year, but aside from that, the game has had a gameplay makeover that feels seamless in comparison with its older counterpart.
And so began the tale of Ferrethood…
You start the game by choosing 1 hero to play out of a random selection of 3. These characters come with different designs, weapons, and may contain abilities that were found while scouring levels earlier in a way that some may understand from having played Rogue Legacy. They also come with a randomly-generated name as well, which can be rather amusing in its own right. For just a measly 5 coins, you can reroll your character to your heart’s content until you get the hero you want to play with.
Once you’ve make your selection, you enter a hubworld of sorts, where leftover coins from the last run can be used to upgrade your character in a number of ways; upgrading the damage they’ll do or adding extra hit points for extra survivability. There are also NPCs that explain abilities and how to play. Enter through the little blue portal to begin the level.
The game’s interface is fantastic. Bright color schemes, vibrant enemies, and beautiful backgrounds. Randomly generated levels don’t feel random at all. There were paths that forced me to make a choice between going to the left or the right – sacrificing treasure and NPCs on the road not taken. Monsters and NPCs alike never looked out of place when they spawn, which is a small little detail I appreciate in a game that takes pride in the fact that no run will ever be the same as the last.
I also found the right side of the screen to be useful while playing. In essence, it may as well have been a giant health bar, but it didn’t distract me at all while I was playing and helped a great deal when I needed to remember what my abilities did; there are so many in the game, that having something that blatantly tells you what it is is a godsend.
Look Ma, I can platform!
Vertical Drop Heroes HD plays smoothly on both the keyboard and XBOX 360 controller, though I found myself preferring the latter just a tad bit more. The controls are simple and very user-friendly, which makes the gaming experience that much better. It only took a couple of test runs before I mastered how to jump and attack with style.
How do you drop?
The mainstay of the game is a simple enough objective in the form of traversing down platforms to the bottom, where a boss waits to mess up your day and the next level opens up upon victory. It’s a simple enough concept, but with that concept comes an overload of things you can do within the level, even before you get to the bottom!
For example, you can try to complete a level in Pacifist Mode, where you collect orbs that will grant you money and experience – but only as long as you don’t kill anything.
You can try to unlock all of the locked cages and chests scattered throughout the level. Chests contain a decent amount of gold, while cages contain a number of different characters who aid you once you release them – usually in the form of beating up enemies faster than you will on your own.
There are also several NPCs littered throughout the level who will give you quests in exchange for gold. You could completely bypass these fine folks, but if you are a player who wants to complete the level 100%, these simple tasks offer more to the game than just going from point A to point B.
Let’s not forget the various statues that you can activate for a measly sum of gold. These can directly affect the level you’re on, grant you buffs that last as long as you stay alive throughout the run, and can even set conditions. Want a shiny key to unlock a treasure chest? M’kay, kill these enemies I’ve just spawned right on top of you first!
It’s great fun, and what seems like a simple game at the start expands by letting the player make choices for themselves as to how they want to play the game.
I’ll be back!
Oh, and don’t forget one simple thing – eventually, you are going to die. In this game, it’s never felt so rewarding to drop dead. There’s a certain NPC in the level that will grant extra abilities that may be acquired by the next hero you play with. Not only that, but you can use the coins from your past run to get stronger and more formidable. As such, it feels almost like a reward from the game for trying so hard, and it works well. I died often, but never felt anger or annoyance at having to restart the game. They gave me a cookie in the form of new stuff to try, with a promise that I’ll get farther next time!
Vertical Drop to Victory
It’s amazing to see how the concept of a flash game from years ago evolved into a version that retains the qualities that made it a classic. It changed up its gameplay just enough to feel different from the original, allowing players to play the game how they want. Vertical Drop Heroes HD does everything right in my book, and is very much deserving of a full 5 stars.
Watch the trailer for Vertical Drop Heroes HD below: