A Decent ARPG for the Busy Gamer
While HeroWarz has been out in other regions of the world for quite some time, it only now made it to North America after being announced in November of last year. KOG Games released the game in its final form earlier this summer. It’s one of those games that probably slipped under most people’s radar as it went from closed beta testing to open beta to full release in a matter of a few months and without a lot of fanfare.
HeroWarz was developed by A-Storm and is published on this side of the world by KOG Games. For those who do not know, KOG Games is the publisher of the very popular Elsword and HeroWarz is the company’s second foray into the North American market.
Players first stepping foot into the game will immediately recognize HeroWarz’ similarity to other dungeon crawlers such as Dungeon Fighter and its KOG predecessor, Elsword. By this, HW is instance-based with an isometric viewpoint and features an anime art style. In addition, while technically considered a 3D game, it feels more like a 2.5D game and it suits it very well.
Like many dungeon crawlers, HeroWarz players choose from one of seven characters rather than making one of their own. There are several each of male and female characters. As with many anime-styled games, there is the hulking bruiser, the angsty pretty boy and the brooding bad boy. On the female side, there’s the cherubic (but deadly!) youngster, the tough-as-nails fighter, the sexy dominatrix and the slightly insane gothic girl. As expected, all characters are gender locked and look exactly the same as all others of the same type at the onset. Customization comes in the form of costumes and gear rewarded through game play or purchased in the cash shop.
Looking pretty much the same as every other character could be seen as a detriment to the game but that initial pout is replaced by the utterly unique way each character plays. Each of the available characters has its own combat style and feel.
And what combat it is!
Folks who love combo-based fighting games will truly love HeroWarz. While skill progression is very linear, the skills make sense and are quite different from one another. Different keys can be combined to create a different move that can be ranged, an AoE ability, or take the player up close and personal. Even ranged players have abilities that can do some serious damage when in close range.
All characters are open to all players and they level separately from one another rather than in a collective pool. I mainly used melee combatants Mary and Jerry and ranged sniper, Audrey. All three were a lot of fun and, even though two were melee, they felt entirely different.
Combat is smooth and responsive. I ran into very few bugs and was only plagued by random lag spikes on occasion. For a fast-paced combat game, HeroWarz shines in the visceral nature of its combat, both in terms of feeling like characters are really making an impact on an enemy and in the awesome effects. There’s nothing like seeing Jerry drop a huge tire on a boss and then pound it with her bat to get your attention!
Players can join an instance either solo or in a group (with friends or with random players). The more players in the instance, the tougher and more numerous the monsters. It’s easy to rack up kill streaks because the baddies pile on in massive numbers in increasingly dense waves with mini-bosses thrown in to keep things exciting. Bosses, as expected come with boatloads of shields, health and mitigation to keep things exciting. Take him or her down and get lots of coins, gear, boost potions and more.
There’s a neat story in HeroWarz too. For those willing to take the time to read it during instances will enjoy learning the backstory of the game and the characters. The voice overs when present are the originals with English subtitles. In between instances, there’s also a cute comic style loading screen to give new players tips. It can be, however, annoying as the story characters pop up at the start of every instance. While easy to skip with a simple ESC push, it can get tiresome. Additionally, if you actually are interested in the story, few other players will allow you enough time to read through the often overly long dialogues to digest it all.
Players looking to spend real world cash and to further customize their characters will find a lot to like in the Venus Shop. It is packed with themed items such as the Alice in Wonderland set that even features a Cheshire Cat head that can float behind a character. There are also other convenience items that can increase mana regeneration, attack power and so on. The good thing is, however, that nearly everything in the Venus Shop can be earned in game either through rewards for completing instances or by opening randomly dropped chests. I never felt that my characters were in any way “handicapped” by not having store items since she earned plenty of stuff along the way. I even scored 3 days of VIP time!
HeroWarz is one of those games that is fun to pick up and play for an hour or two but more than that can feel grindy. Of course, it is in the very nature of an ARPG to give players ample opportunity to grind out better gear, upgrades, and to access new companions that can be added at level 21, but without PvP and seasonal events, it’s tough to want to play for much longer than stated.
All in all, HeroWarz is a decent little ARPG for those who want to jump in, grind out a few instances, and jump out feeling as if something was accomplished. With a bit more attention to keeping players engaged through the addition of new features and events, it’s quite possible that HeroWarz will find its niche with its western audience.
Gameplay – 9 | Game play is tons of fun. It’s nearly impossible to get bored since each character is vastly different from the others and they can be changed out quickly and easily. Combat is fluid and responsive as well as visceral and fun. Combos and kill streaks are great to rack up.
Visuals & Sound – 6 | This one is a mixed bag. Level design is neat, though the 2.5D might be off putting to some. Loading screens are great and the visual presentation of each instance is well done. Between the repetitive screeches and grunts of characters, the sometimes overly loud combat sounds and the rather uninspiring soundtrack, HeroWarz is a bit on the lackluster side.
Longevity – 5 | With better, more visually appealing, more feature complete games out there in a somewhat over-saturated market, HeroWarz is going to have to find its niche. As a three to five year old game, however, that is fully mature in other regions, it will remain to be seen what, if any, changes or new features will be added.
Polish – 9 | Other than big lag spikes, HeroWarz is a very solid, very polished game. Having been out in other global regions for years, this is to be expected, though the lag spikes do need to be addressed.
Value – 6 | Pricing in the Venus Shop is pretty steep though as stated above, it’s not really necessary to utilize it at all. At lower character levels, players will not feel penalized at all.