Retro gaming – the throwback jersey day of video games. This week is No Heroes Here, a fantasy, 2-D, crafter/castle defender. Going in, I thought I was going to like it – "defend the castles" is, for me, the peak of addictive video gaming. It both gets you hooked and requires skill. But how good is No Heroes Here? Let's find out!
After a king (of....Noobland) loses his lucky charms in a battle, you must find them to restore the kingdom, while building and defending bigger and bigger castles. That's all there is to the story - it's defend-the-castle-style gameplay combined with crafting after that. The story doesn't really matter, and is only brought up every now and again on the side. Overall, I guess it works, and since it's co-op, it doesn't matter too much. Still, it's not too much to go on either.
The graphics had a retro, 8-bit style. The small figures reminded me a bit of ol' NES and SNES games, but with a bigger color palette. Attackers look tiny, as do you and your friends. There are are lots of free games online that do basically the same thing with more detail, so they're pulling for the retro charm. And it kind of works. It felt like an older game. I'm not too sure how to feel about it overall, but "okay" is what comes to mind.
Like I said before, gameplay is castle defense meets crafting in a 2D package. I found myself rushing around crafting, arming and defending in such a flurry that I didn't have too much time to enjoy it. Why can't I hire tons of helpers to defend for me, so I can focus on tasks I like without micro-managing everything? Co-op sort of takes care of it, but honestly, everyone descends and does what they like to do. What you need to do becomes routine, and that's not good. There's not a lot of strategy involved besides how to manage your time to do certain tasks. I usually like these games, but it was more "in the motions" that most other games like it.
The controls were great, though. This is where it hits retro on the nose. Jumping, climbing, and performing actions are right in line with what you would expect. And while the lack of variety made it less enjoyable, the controls kept me going, because while new, they felt so familiar and fun. Playing on a laptop, well, it takes a special kind of game to equate that to classic gaming controls, but No Heroes Here does it.
The music is half retro, half jumpy, action-y, medieval/fantasy. It's mostly on a loop too, so you have the same kind of music to go with you performing the same kind of actions. Even generation-1 Pokemon managed to change it up more. And then there's the sound. Crafting, bangs, booms and everything – it's very limited. Retro games had this too (in addition to the limited music), but here it felt intentionally limited, like they were constraining themselves to do so much. If there was more variance, or more sounds than just monotonic beeps, it would have been a little better, but again, it felt limited on purpose.
The good news is nothing is really wrong with the game engineering wise. The frame rate was great, and I didn't have any glitches pop up. A few moves were questionable – sometimes when I jumped I'd grab onto or land somewhere I didn't want to – but that was more me not paying attention. This game was checked well in this regard.
No Heroes Here, in some ways, brings that retro charm back, and shows the positive side of the era in the simpleness being complicated. Controls proved that for me. But it felt extremely limited when it didn't need to be, even for a game going for a retro style. There's only so much you can do, but at the same time, you need to pretty much do it all with little variety. Castles may change shape, help changes and defenders change, but what you need to do never does, and how you do it doesn't either. The game works fine, but it might get frustrating or annoying.
Final Score: 5.9 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.