Updated: Sep 3
System reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Genre: Platformer, Action, Shooter
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Released: March 31, 2020
Did I finish: No
Disclosure: I received a free key for this game through Woovit.
Random Heroes: Gold Edition is a run and gun shooter with many levels spread across themed sets, each culminating in a boss fight. I played a little over an hour, seeing the first three areas and trying a few different heroes.
My favorite part of the game is the system for earning stars. You can get up to three in each level, with the same objectives:
Finish without taking damage
Kill all of the enemies
Find the hidden coins
Each of these feels like a unique challenge, unlike “finish faster to get more stars” or “get X stars for every Y points.” And they encourage exploration, working with the generally solid level design, which adds replayability.
The critical path is clear in most levels, and you usually know ahead of time if you’re headed for a dead end. This lets you pick how you want to play the game: take your time and aim for all of the stars, or run along through each level to get to the end.
The UI displays which stars you have in a clear and concise way. Once you’ve figured out which is which, you know when you’ve been hit and need to restart, and when you’ve killed the last enemy, and when you found the secret coins.
The game lets you get into a flow. It doesn’t interrupt you at the end of the level. There’s no results screen, no popping back to the map, and no restarting the music. Plus, solid controls make for a smooth experience.
Unfortunately, the game wants to be much bigger than it actually is, and that’s where it falls flat.
Collecting coins allows you to upgrade weapons, but this is a terrible grind. Every enemy takes forever with the initial weapon, and even when you kill them, they don’t drop very many coins. The guns are super expensive and take eternity to unlock. And then the game blocks you from progressing too far in your power because the weapons are locked behind level unlocks.
The worst part is that weapons have a fixed price. If you buy a magnum for $320, that’s another $320 you’ll need to earn toward any other weapon, so you’re better off saving for the 9mm first. That took me nineteen levels to accomplish, though to be fair I was avoiding killing the enemies because it was super tedious.
Then there’s the titular “random heroes.” This is a slew of skin changes you can unlock by earning stars, with very slight stat variations. Getting every star in the game only results in +3 to each stat. The idea is cool, but I wish the heroes had interesting abilities to make them unique.
The grind reminds me of the unfortunate trend in triple-A games to have tiny 1% boosts from unlockables and pickups. For me, the true spirit of indie is in the zaniness of doubling things, exponential increases that threaten to break the game.
The main menu could use a little tweaking so the heroes are more integrated into the level select. It’s a bit inconvenient to exit out of the level select to get to the hero select.
There’s a nice variety of environments in levels and each area has its own unique enemies added into the mix. I would have liked to see more level mechanics added—all I saw were elevators, and they were introduced early—though maybe there is more later in the game.
The bosses provide a fun if overly simple challenge. At the very least, they break up the monotony of the same level type, and they’re a nice way to demonstrate differences in weapon and hero power.
The graphics are fine. The assault rifle is way too loud. The music is hit or miss. Everything is readable, and I particularly like the stars UI as previously mentioned.
I was unable to find any problematic bugs, though it bothers me you can’t drop down through an elevator if it’s moving down. I’d call that a bug, since you can drop down when it’s going up.
Random Heroes gets a lot of polish right but falls flat by reaching for triple-A ideals
Honestly, I enjoyed playing this game, especially after upgrading the weapon. But a lot of it felt tedious, especially as I realized how little each upgrade earned me. The faster, riskier character was a fun experience for a while, but it would have been nice to see more unique features for the heroes.
I’m on the fence about this one, because it really depends. If you’re the kind of gamer who can put up with a slow burn and you like run and gun games, I can recommend this. But for me it’s…