**** For the Hidden Gems portion of the blog, I randomly select a game out of the PS Store library for $20 or less with the hope of discovering the next Hidden Gem!!!****
People who know me know that I am an extremely humble person. I personally don’t mind being wrong. I can apologize if It is required, and I will admit defeat. However, none of this is true when it comes to video games. I CANNOT and SHALL NOT be defeated. I am a CONQUEROR. I wake up every morning and piss EXCELLENCE(shout out to everybody who caught this Ricky Bobby reference from the best Will Ferrell movie of all Time…Talledega Nights. Shake and Bake!!!) I am currently humming in my head that awesome song from a lot of our childhoods, I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was. To catch them… I think you get the picture. These are all things I tell myself when I play video games. But this time guys and girls, I have let you all down. I can barely stand to look at myself. I fought long and hard, but in the end, it was to no avail. I am just another fallen hero with dreams of one day obtaining great treasure and making my family proud. Yes, it is true. I am not the boy of prophecy, but are you?
When you first click play, the game presents you with a few paragraphs of text detailing the story. To sum it up, there is an ancient prophecy which predicts that a great hero will rise and travel many lands in search of the secret to existence. It will be a long journey that will take the hero to dangerous places where he will fight strange beasts, but at the end of the journey, he or she will be rewarded with a secret to existence. Simple right?
It turns out the game isn’t really about the lucky bastard who actually succeeds in reaching the end. The game is about all of the brave souls who lost their lives attempting to fulfill this prophecy (me included). This game is a homage to the video game characters that nobody cares about. The ones that aren’t the heroes.
I thought this was a super dope concept and it’s something I have thought about previously. I remember talking to my brother years ago while playing COD (Call of Duty) multiplayer. Out of nowhere, my brother says, “It must suck being the COD guy. This poor guy dies a terrible death only to be brought back to life to die again. Why? He has high hopes of being number 1 on the leader boards, but he probably never will. He is forced to exist in this messed up cycle and nobody cares. Nobody cares about the guy at the bottom with the worst stats. We only care about the best.” (If you’re not first, you’re last. Shake and Bake!!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist) My brother was on to something back then. Shout out to Vertical Drop Heroes for acknowledging the little guy. This game is about the journey and what a great journey it was.
One interesting thing about the story is that the game is semi-permadeath. If you die, the character you were using is gone forever and you have to start over with a new character (sorta). When you are back on the character select screen, the game will allow you to choose the character you previously died using. However, the name of the character will now have a Roman numeral II at the end. For example, if my original character was named Phil, when I die and choose him again, he will be called Phil II. I always imagine that I’m now playing with the children of the fallen hero, which can get depressing once you start getting to Phil IV and Phil V.
Sorry guys, I just ruined your whole family tree…because I suck at this game.
Before you start your game, you will be prompted to select from one of three characters. The characters are pretty basic (as far as appearance), but what really sets them apart are their weapons and special abilities. The game has a nice selection of weapons such as great swords, bow & arrows, and even mage staffs. You can also unlock some pretty strong weapons as you progress through the game. You only have one weapon through your entire playthrough though, so you have to choose carefully. Your plan of attack solely depends on what type you choose. If you want to keep some distance between you and your enemies, you may want to go with the bow. Prefer to be up close and personal? Try out the dagger or dual swords.
Each character comes with two stat boost and two special abilities. Some characters may have stats that give you a 50% damage increase to bosses. Others may have a special ability where you receive double the amount of cash, but you have to begin with only half your health. Some characters may be able to summon a dragon while others can clone themselves.
When you drop into a level, there is one main objective. You have to traverse vertically to the bottom of the stage and defeat the boss, which will unlock a portal to the next level. The boss fights can be pretty easy at first, but they get tougher the further you get into the game. However, you have a lot of assistance throughout the level. You may come across a random NPC (non-playable character) that will give you extra money or EXP (experience) if you can complete a task for them. Tasks mostly consist of finding and collecting specific items such as roses, pets, potions, etc. You also randomly come across other heroes who have been imprisoned. If you free them, you will gain an ally who will fight for you until they die. These allies can be extremely helpful with the exception of one (I hate that guy. If you come across a knight that has been trapped in a cage, leave him there! He deserves it. He’s gotten me killed way too many times. I hope he rots in there! He showcases the game’s destructible environments by just blowing up any and everything he sees. Even you!!! He completely disregards his allies to satisfy his blood lust. I don’t know what his problem is. But I REALLY don’t like him…well, now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, I feel better now). There are about four or five different allies, and they all have different abilities.
I appreciate how you have to formulate a plan regarding how to make it to the bottom of each stage. It is not as simple as just falling to the bottom. Although, you can just go to the bottom if you’d like, but you will be doing yourself a major disservice if you do. There are tons of collectibles and power-ups littered throughout each stage that could help you on your journey. If you go in guns ah blazing, you will quickly find yourself outnumbered or killed by a cleverly hidden trap. It’s best to take your time and approach this game slow and steady.
Enemies & Settings
The enemies and settings are my favorite part of this game. There are tons of different enemies, which means there are like 1000 ways to die (shout out to Spike. That used to be one of my favorite shows). The further you get into the game the more difficult enemy types you face. You have standard enemies like spiders, little monster elf looking creatures (as you can see I have no idea what these things are. Check it out. Picture a really small elf, and then like a monster version of that elf. WALA), witches, assassins, zombies, and other terrible monstrosities. A lot of them have different types of attacks, which really forces you to switch up the way you approach them.
I really enjoyed the different level designs too. Each level is more or less the same structurally, but they all have different added effects. One might be lava themed, another might be water and bubble themed. Out of all the ones I made it through, I enjoyed the Egyptian pyramid themed level the best. I made it all the way to stage 8/10. So there are still two levels I have yet to see.
The Little Things
What I Like
Facial Animations – I really like how your character reacts to the situation you are in. If you are picking up coins, the character has this big, greedy smile on his/her face. If you are in the middle of a battle, he/she shows a serious, more intimidating expression. It’s not a lot, but this simple inclusion made me connect with this random character a tad bit more.
What I Don’t Like
Game Ending Bugs – So, I have to inform you that I did encounter a few bugs throughout my many hours with this game. I think I might have played it for around 10-15 hours, and I only died twice as a result of a glitch of some sort. You will always know if you died in a weird way because the game tells you how you died. For example, once the game told me I died by spikes when I didn’t step on any. The other time I was randomly teleported into a pit of lava. One of these glitchy deaths occurred during one of my more successful playthroughs of the game, which completely killed any momentum I had gained to that point.
Week two of the Hidden Gems section of the blog is another success. I enjoyed my time with this game and would definitely recommend it to others. It is challenging, but i’m still confident that I can beat it. Besides the two game-breaking glitches I encountered, I felt the game was fair and that any mistakes were my own. Oh, this game also has couch co-op which is always a plus. I can definitely see myself coming back to this game, and I will keep a close eye on Nerdook going forward.
Vertical Drop Heroes HD is a 2D platformer by a indie developer that consist of only one man, Sim YC AKA Nerdook. It is similar to games like Towerfall Ascension only because you traverse the stage vertically instead of horizontally. Nerdook has also created games such as Cluesweeper, Zombies Took My Daughter, and Guy of My Dreams.
Nerdook you may have bested me this time, but I will be back. Know that!!!
But for now, I’m going to take this L and go cry in the corner.
Price (At the time of this review) – $9.99
Hidden Gem? √
Here’s some gameplay of me getting whooped. Enjoy! (Spoilers)