Heart & Slash is set in a world where Robots have taken over. In this dystopian future, the Robolution (a war between robots and humans), the robots have won and the humans lost, leading to a world where human civilization seizes to exist.
Published by BadLand Indie and developed by a small indie team of ten based in Spain under the name of A Heart Full of Games, Heart & Slash channels the retro-vibe of a PS1 or PS2 game with its playful soundtrack, bright colour palette and overall aesthetic.
In terms of Heart & Slash’s story and narrative, it does take a little bit to get going. Once you get over the initial tutorial-like level, you realize that it is ultimately the origin story that shares a brief moment to recognize the beginning of the Robolution. In these early and somewhat harmless stages of the game, we are introduced to the game’s protagonist Heart, a tiny and cute little robot with a heart on his face. In spite of his harmless representation, Heart has the fighting skills and capabilities to take on enemies. Skipping forward one hundred years and humans are all but a memory, Heart’s ultimate goal is to escape QuAsSy (Quality Assurance Systems), an evil machine who is preventing him from leaving the facility.
One things for certain, Heart & Slash has Roguelike elements and is a Roguelike game, there’s no doubt about that. If you’re unsure what that means let me reiterate. Roguelike elements in video games feature such elements as randomly generated levels and that whenever you die, you have to restart the level over again. As well as this, every time you restart, you’re faced with new enemies, new weapons or new items etc. Most of the time, Roguelike games can be incredibly frustrating for people and I could probably say that I was one of those people. On the flip side though, many people might push through the frustration and find the fun of the challenge.
Combat is the dominant aspect of Heart & Slash and at the end of the day is what you spend nearly all of your time doing in the game. Playing as Heart in third person can be a bit jarring at first because of the loose mechanics but the wide angle is also useful when scanning the area for enemies.
When playing as Heart, players have the ability to use button combos for various attacks and defenses. Heart & Slash is also a brawler game and one where a protagonist faces a large amount of opponents in combat. You’re taught from early on in the game that most enemies you face, especially the harder ones such as bosses, will require more strategy than just hitting it until they die. You find its weakness and exploit it. It’s always more fulfilling when games allow you to do this.
Sad it is may be, I found it difficult to play with a lack of reward or goal to achieve. That’s not to say there wasn’t an ounce-ling of it there, it just tended to be overshadowed by the reset button that occurred every time you died. Saying this, Heart & Slash is worth your time if you’re looking for a fun way to try out a new genre of gaming. The challenging aspects might be a bit too much for some players but enjoyable for others who are perhaps looking for ways to test their in-game combat.
- Fun retro vibe
- Unique protagonist
- Frustrating challenges
- Narrative a bit lacking