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A Casual, Cornered: Why Heroes Charge is Nobody's Hero

By Beau Hindman on January 13, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Why Heroes Charge is Nobody's Hero

Heroes Charge is a dreadful game in some ways. It just is. I’d rather not waste your time and, frankly, my time, with attempting to flower this several-hundred-word column with attempts to describe the game’s systems and finer points. It’s a Sunday, my normal day for writing these articles, and the Golden Globes are on in the background. My dog is begging me for food as I type this up. I’m having a Hostess Apple Pie. I have things I’d rather be doing that talking about this title.

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But, it’s my part-time job to tell you why it is dreadful, and – more importantly – I need to tell you why I think it’s dreadful, as in my specifically-odd gamer point of view, because there are a great many of you who might enjoy the game. Heck, I fully expect someone to comment that they enjoyed the game once they arrived at a certain level and that, yes, the game is a grind at first but it opens up and becomes much more fun later on.

For me, what a game represents can often be as important as how a game plays. Heroes Charge plays fine; in fact the hands-off gaming that it utilizes, the side-scrolling action-based tower-defense-ish gameplay is not really a bad idea. I am not going to waste half of this article trying to explain to “real” gamers how hands-off or minimal gameplay can be rewarding, in-depth and (the most important) fun, so I will just say that you’ll have to trust me; there are worse mechanics out there than you’ll find in this particularly weird game.

What the gameplay represents, however, is a move to gameplay that is essentially just a thing to do until a certain level is reached. For me, it’s like tapping your foot as you wait to see the dentist; the gameplay in games like Heroes Charge feels like something to do until something else much more important happens. I have to admit, however, that I did not get to the highest levels in this game – not close – because after a while I simply got sick of tapping my foot.

As you fight your way through dungeons and adventures you will slowly gain access to new heroes and their abilities. These heroes are lined up and slowly walk towards the enemy almost like they would in a tower defense game. Unlike a tower defense title, though, you will hardly have anything to do as you can literally cover the upper portion of the game while watching a few gauges fill up enough so that you can fire off a sort of mega-ability that helps do extra damage to the enemy.

I’ve heard this combat called “passive” by players who review the game in the app’s review section, but that word is a bit too generous. Combat in this game is simply a braking mechanism, and there seems to an entire generation of gamers who whole-heartedly appreciate this sort of thing because, well, you eventually gain a level. Isn’t that the most important thing in the world?

Passive gaming is not a sin nor is it always poorly done. An MMORTS is based on what I call “representational” gameplay, mechanics that are usually the equivalent of smashing two opposing forces together until a victor walks away. MMORTS players do not control each little minion in their armies. No, instead, combat is hands-off except for the preparation that comes before hand. There are other examples of hands-off gameplay out there, and much of the time it can be a lot of fun because it allows the gamer to fill in the details – the great, bloody details – with their own imagination.

In Heroes Charge, the hands-off combat is essentially joyless. The designers could have added some clever mini-game to participate in while the characters fought. I can only imagine if they threw in a simple match-based puzzle that had to be solved while the combat went on or if they made the player answer silly trivia questions or, well, anything that gave the gameplay some bit of life. As it is now, I feel like an older dude who is attempting to play one of those dance-dance videogames in the arcade; sure, I could do it and I could keep up, but it’s not my thing. Probably never will be. That’s a poor example, actually, because those dancing videogames look to be happy activities.

Don’t worry, though, there are quite a few activities to keep you busy in Heroes Charge, but only once you reach the appropriate level. Some activities require stamina that runs out and replenishes over time. In fact, because of the time restraints put on the game, many players will find themselves playing other games while waiting to play this one. Again, time constraints or stamina or energy mechanics can be fine mechanics but only if couched inside interesting games; Heroes Charge makes you wait around to take part in some pretty bland gameplay.

If you want to jump in, play a few battles, level up some heroes and claim daily login bonuses, go for it. This game might be OK for you. If you want to actually play a game without having to pay your way into higher levels (unless you want to wait a long time) then play something else.

As I said before, games like Heroes Charge don’t offend me; I’m not one of those “angry” reviewers who rants about mechanics as someone else might talk about politics. If I don’t enjoy a game, I at least acknowledge that many other players might. But, what Heroes Charge represents makes me a bit nauseous. It gives me a glimpse into a future of e-sported MMOs that are no longer living worlds but are simply level-racing contests. God, how boring.

You can download Heroes Charge for free in your favorite app store.

Beau Hindman / Beau is a writer, artist, PR/CM, game designer and pro moderator, and he's been blogging since 2002. He lives it up in Austin, Texas with his community manager wife. He's also the author of Anna the Powerful, a sci-fi book about the world's only superhero. Buy it here: http://my.bookbaby.com/book/anna-the-powerful