The fine folks at Perfect World Entertainment were kind enough to let us here at MMORPG.com into the closed beta for Rusty Hearts, and we’ve spent the past few days taking this dungeon-crawling, classic-brawling, MMO Action-RPG for a spin. Rusty Hearts is easily a direct competitor to Nexon’s Dungeon Fighter and with slick cel-shaded visuals, fluid and addictive combat, tons of loot and costumes, a promising PvP system, and a pretty decent Anime story to go along with it all, I’m having trouble wanting to play DF after Rusty Hearts. It’s not going to replace your MMORPG of choice, but for quick beat-em-up action with an anime slant there are few games that can compete with Perfect World’s latest.
There are three characters to choose from, and similar to other MMO-Brawler Vindictus, each has unique capabilities. There’s Tude, the highly-melee focused badass guy with a demon arm and a dark past. There’s Angela, the spunky and magical caster. And there’s also Frantz Kruger, a vampire with an equal mix of magical and melee abilities. He was bitten long ago, but managed to bite just one person and then seal his blood in his body with a spell so that he never needs to feed again. Sadly, he still suffers from a strange case of anemia, and wrestles with a painful past and memories of loved ones lost forever.
I hadn’t seen him in action yet, so I chose to go with Frantz as my character (despite his Edward Cullen-ness). The game starts with a brief cinematic and tutorial that walks you through the basics of combat and dungeon-crawling. You enter a section of the dungeon and the walls are barred off, and you won’t be able to proceed until you kill everything in the room. It’s straightforward enough, and the monsters that spawn are fairly easy to pick off at first. Even on Hard Mode intended for 2-3 people, I found the beginning dungeons easy, though I’m also only level 4 so far so this could be part of the problem. At E3 this year, I remember the monsters being far more volatile and rambunctious, so we’ll have to see what happens as you level up.
Once the tutorial’s over, you’re brought into the game’s main hub proper, and it’s here where you get a sense that you’re part of the city’s defense force against a rising evil. To be honest, I don’t have a really good grasp on the story yet, but basically it seems that the town is filled with humans who are left defending themselves against an ever-encroaching mix of vampires, werewolves, and other “bump-in-the-night” types. I suspect it’ll be your job to find out what’s behind this onslaught and put a stop to it.
The town has all manner of NPCs littered about, from armor shops, to quest NPCs, and a costume NPC who you’ll grow quite fond of as she will make sure your character stands out from the bazillion other Tudes/Angelas/and Frantzes. The story is presented via text, and the localization is actually pretty decent, rivaling many Animes out there. There’s a good bit of humor in the conversations between you and the NPCs, and while it’s not something that’s going to keep me glued to my seat I can appreciate the Castlevania-esque story. If Simon Belmont adventures are your idea of a great time, Rusty Hearts is right up your alley.
The combat itself is where all the fun of RH lies. While you can easily use a keyboard and mouse, and it handles much like Dungeon Fighters in this way, I opted to use the Xbox 360 controller and had a tremendous amount of fun with it. Rusty Hearts is a street-fighting game, like Final Fight, Double-Dragon, and all the classics. It’s a mix of potion-chugging, button-mashing and supreme combo-chaining. Each dungeon will grade you on how well you beat it, and obviously the better you do the more rewards and experience you’ll get. It’s a whole lot of fun, and becomes a crazy riot when a few friends join you. This is surprisingly easy too, as even without real in-game friends, during any point in town you can just press a button to add yourself to the group queue and be auto-placed in an appropriate group. The few times I’ve tried it, it worked really well.
For a game that’s pretty much all about kicking the ever-loving crap out of creepy crawlies, Rusty Hearts is surprisingly addictive. If you’ve ever had a love for games like Castlevania, or if you’re just looking for a new fix akin to Dungeon Fighters, PWE’s Rusty Hearts may be absolutely perfect for you. It’s light on the required specs, runs extremely smooth, and plays really well with both the traditional keyboard and a console controller. The skills and hotkeys are mapped to the buttons on the controller in a convenient and straightforward way, and you’ll find yourself mixing and matching the spells and attacks in no time. I sat down on more than one occasion expecting to play for 10 or 15 minutes, and wound up at my desk for over an hour, just because it feels good to juggle skeletons and zombies in the air as a teleporting vampire. This one is definitely shaping up to be a good time.