Pixel Heroes is an 8-bit retro gaming experience melding the battle system of a turn-based Role-Playing Game and the permadeath of a Roguelike. While its innocent, yet simplistic art style seems to give an aura of easiness, the game is actually fairly hard. The problem is, it doesn’t really ease you into the experience at all. The lowest mode available is seemingly “Hard” mode. And it speaks the truth. The randomized enemies and random encounter system ensure a different experience each playthrough.
Pixel Heroes: Byte And Magic Review
Title: Pixel Heroes: Byte And Magic Review
Platform: PC, Xbox One [Reviewed]
Genre: Roguelike, RPG
Developer: The Bit Father
Publisher: Headup Games
Release Date: February 3, 2017
Starting the Game
The game begins with the player choosing three characters to start the adventure. There are a variety of classes, each with their own starting stats and gear. All of the typical RPG staples are here as well. After that, you head off to your first quest. Equip your gear and get going on the journey. Once you set out, Random encounters happen along the way to the checkpoint of the quest (Or side quest. There’s even one particular encounter that’s a large and very obvious, reference to the Angry Video Game Nerd YouTube channel.
The battles take a turn-based approach. The characters take one action per turn. Once you use an attack or spell, your turn is over. The difference is, the whole party does not reset every turn. It’s one character per turn. So, if you use the Warrior on the first turn, he won’t be available for another two turns. Although it’s an interesting idea to make you rely on the other two characters to also pull their weight in defeating the enemy, it feels like it’s there to ramp up the difficulty.
I mentioned the difficulty in the introduction, well, it’s ridiculously uneven. Sometimes I could go three dungeons and not have a problem. Then, I’d die at the third boss, restart, and then die at the first boss. It doesn’t really feel as if there’s progression at all. There’s also no hint or any kind of help when it comes to what you may need for a boss. It’s totally understandable that with Permadeath comes a bit of trial and error, but it ultimately becomes not very fun to know you may be wasting your time making a run. The Roguelike is a genre that has some great examples of the gameplay done correctly. Darkest Dungeon and Rogue Legacy being prime examples. However, I guess since the game doesn’t offer help of any kind, with really anything, at least it’s consistent.
This is also reinforced by the lack of a tutorial. All the help in the game amounts to a button map that describes only the most basic of actions. This extends itself to the loot system. It took forever to figure out how to remove items from the inventory. The UI explains absolutely nothing and it was by sheer happenstance that I could saw a trash can, as I dragged an item around. The interface is also built for mobile or PC, and not really Xbox One. If this wasn’t so cumbersome to understand, it may have helped the experience be better. However, it just adds more frustration to everything else in the game.
8 Bit Retro Look
Turn Based Battles Add Strategy
The Difficulty is Uneven
No Sense of Progression
UI is clunky on Console
Overall Thoughts: 5.5 Out of 10 The retro 8-bit aesthetic makes Pixel Heroes easy to look at. There’s a solid game in here, but the uneven difficulty and bad UI on console hinder it. It’s nice to see a game go back to being turn based with a battle system to match it. But it’s just marred with other issues and really hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t big into Rougelikes.
* For the sake of transparency, the publisher provided a digital code for review purposes *.