Dungeon Crawler is indeed a sub-genre of RPG games that are interesting in the eyes of some types of gamers. Those who don’t mind to fight tooth and nail with limited lives with fatal consequences, which can even end up being a reset process to do everything from the beginning, will usually fall in love with games like this. Slowly but surely, this genre also finds more perfect form, especially in the hands of indie developers. Apart from the repetitive gameplay concept which is often helped by a system of choosing random levels or rewards that offer a different experience each time you play, there is always an effort and innovation to make it different. One came from Robot Entertainment.
From the cold hands of developers who had made Orc Must Die! in the past, came a game offered for PCs and Playstation 4 – ReadySet Heroes. Broadly speaking, you can categorize it as a dungeon crawler game that is actually built on a basis similar to other dungeon crawler games. That in the end, it’s a matter of fighting and fighting for survival through level after level, until you find the last boss to really “finish”. But one of the highlights of Readyset Heroes is how he also managed to build a competitive multiplayer mode from it.
With its RPG elements and a super exciting battle system that can be built, you might think that Readyset Heroes will offer a single-player mode that is built on a clear storyline. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It seems clear from the start of this game and seeing the mode it provides, Readyset Heroes was designed to make multiplayer as the main attraction.
The only “own” mode that you can try is the mode that you should enjoy with one other player that functions like a co-op mode. In this one mode, like the Dungeon Crawler game in general, will require you to complete at least 30 levels to be considered “finished”. It doesn’t depend on whichever character you choose, which is divided into several types of swords that now stand like humans with weapons in hand, your experience will be similar. During this 30 level adventure, you will face at least 4 main bosses and several mini bosses.
The decision not to present a story mode is of course disappointing, but it can be rationalized with the status of Robot Entertainment which is still a relatively small developer. The character that you use will indeed throw a comment or two words during the trip, but he will not offend at all from the side of the story or give a picture of what really is the basis of the adventure motivation he did. We feel that Robot Entertainment has missed something potential here.
So with a presentation that is not countless special, but clear enough to give you information about what’s happening on the screen – from enemy attack animations to the various trap effects available, ReadySet Heroes does not look like a game with a high budget, even from music though . There is an indie taste that flows thick in it. The good news? Apart from its status as a dungeon-crawler which is usually synonymous with a high degree of difficulty, the single-player mode (which is actually recommended to be tasted with your friends in this local co-op mode) is relatively easy to solve. You just need to be extra careful.
In the Name of Treasure
The point is to complete one level after another until you win or die at the end. For each level that you complete, you will get one treasure at the end of the level that contains random items and equipment. Divided into several levels of scarcity, which of course gets stronger as the level of scarcity increases, you will be able to strengthen yourself. You can get stronger weapons from axes to super-fast dual-daggers, stronger armor, a sub-weapon that you can throw or use for long-range attacks, to a magic attack that will be embedded in one button, of course with variety different effects. Element-based attacks are also available here.
By using a top-down camera, you will be strengthened by super-simple movements in addition to access to sub-weapons and magic that we mentioned earlier. There are regular attacks, rolling to evade attacks, and one specific button to access the animation that is tied to the weapon you are using. As an example? This button will make your main character attack spin if you use an ax, raise a shield and defend if you use Sword & Shield, or attack in a straight line quickly if you use a dual-dagger. You certainly cannot use this attack repeatedly, considering that special attacks like this and also magic require a certain amount of Mana which fortunately, will regenerate as time goes on.
Then the challenges you face in ReadySet Heroes will not just be locked into the type of enemy you face. That enemies of various sizes with different attack animations can usually be subdued with just a few attacks. The biggest problem actually comes from 2 other challenges: puzzle and trap. Puzzles here usually require you to solve certain crystal-based puzzles, from hitting them in the order specified to activating them for a limited amount of time, before you can move on. Usually it is also combined with a certain quantity of enemies that will make your journey more difficult.
As for the Trap system, which is the source of the most annoying challenges, you will be asked to avoid them. There are obvious traps, but not a few are designed to blend with the terrain background a little to trick you. Touching them, intentionally or unintentionally, will cut your HP portion significantly. The bad news again? Unlike most games that usually will give a little frame invincibility after you have been hit by a damage trap, ReadySet Heroes keeps calculating the next damage instantly if you insist on staying in the same location. The good news? There are several levels that make use of these Traps to produce quite unique challenges.
Unfortunately, the level design in ReadySet Heroes is not formulated with random systems like the crawler dungeon game in general. Although we ourselves cannot determine the exact number, but you will definitely meet 30 levels in the “single-player” mode which we mentioned earlier in multiplayer mode which we will discuss later, without any elements being changed or replaced randomly. All that changes is the content of the treasure chest that you get at the end. Thus, there is an opportunity to “learn” the maps in ReadySet Heroes while at the same time memorizing what you really need to do to quickly complete the level. Which of course, will be useful in competitive multiplayer mode later.
One thing that is interesting is the level increase system that he is carrying. Instead of the usual RPG games built on the EXP system, strengthening your character in ReadySet Heroes is determined by the gems that fall throughout the game, which you can get from defeating enemies or destroying barrels on the map. Each of these gems will represent one particular attribute, such as red for Strength and yellow for Speed for example. With a system like this, there is extra motivation to clean the enemies around or explore the map a little even though you have already cleaned it. The more diligent you collect these gems, the stronger your character will be.
Now in a Competitive Format!
The main experience to be offered by ReadySet Heroes is undeniable, indeed it lies in the competitive mode that he is carrying. Containing 4 players at once, you can choose to play in the form of a team of 2 people or Free for All, which means the four players will fight each other for final dominance. The format of the system like this is indeed unique and is something we have not found before in any game. Admittedly, there is excitement and pleasure when you come out as a winner there.
This competitive multiplayer mode is divided into 2 major phases. The first phase is the Dungeon Crawler that we mentioned earlier, which even includes a level with a similar design that you can find in “single-player” mode. Like playing the mode, the core of this phase is to take the level as deep as you can, defeat every enemy you meet, “collect” treasure prizes and harvest the first variety along the journey with the same mission – to strengthen the character you control. In this phase which lasts about 10 minutes, you will not meet with other players. You will only adventure alone.
The second phase is the competitive phase it should be. After the first phase is finished, all the characters in the arena will be gathered in the same room to fight each other. In this process, all equipment and attributes of your character from the previous phase will be brought and directly affect the performance of your character. This competitive mode will be divided into several types, which will be kept confidential to you until this mode arrives. This makes every player can not “prepare themselves” to concoct a certain build so that it looks charming in the second phase which incidentally, will determine who has the right to be a “winner”.
Something rational considering that this second phase is not always a matter of fighting with each other. You can meet other modes such as asking you to defeat enemy skulls and steal their heads to light the nearest bonfire. There are also those who ask you to take certain fruits from the tree and feed your whiz who is competing. While other, more straightforward modes will prompt you to “kill” each other based on a score. Utilizing a variety of sub-weapons and your roll system will play an important role here, given whatever second phase mode you get, there is always an opportunity to “annoy” other players.
In addition to having fun, ReadySet Heroes also provides one extra motivation to continue playing it. That’s right, the Unlockables system designed like a skill tree is also included here, where every Grid that appears there contains certain challenges to be solved. The good news? These unlockables are all related to cosmetic items, from just extra hats, new characters, colorful costumes, to just emotes to be triggered when you show off your victory. This makes gamers who have long played ReadySet Heroes or those who have just jumped in will not have any imbalances at all.
Unfortunately, ReadySet Heroes came with a big and complicated problem – the number of players at the time of this review was written. Apart from his young age, the matchmaking process is currently in a super critical condition. Even with the cross-play feature for PC gamers, finding and finding 1 match is difficult. Not infrequently we even have to wait more than 20 minutes to meet with 1 other user, and engage in 1 vs 1 competition. Believe it or not, at the time of writing, we have never once managed to feel the full competitive sensation of 4 people. The maximum number of people we meet is only 3 people. This is a super worrying condition that needs an immediate solution.
The current server condition is also another extra note that is worth talking about. Despite the fact that we get code reviews for the Asian region and play it on the internet pretty fast, lagging still feels so obvious in many of our multiplayer matches that incidentally, it’s a rarity. When fighting an enemy, this is not a problem. But not infrequently we meet with conditions where there is a mission that asks you to lift and throw the skull head for example, which because of lagging, it takes several presses to do it. When we managed to lift it? We were attacked by approaching enemies, made our skulls fall, and had to repeat this frustrating action again.
When it works well, ReadySet Heroes is a dungeon crawler game that turns out to be unique, exciting, and fun at the same time. It is hard to deny that there is a solid basic mechanic here, especially with the competitive multiplayer mode he is promoting. But unfortunately in the end, all of this charm is closed with a variety of technical problems that we feel directly.
We are talking about the absence of a story mode that actually has the potential to make it a more interesting dungeon crawler game, a multiplayer mode with an alarming number of active players, to technical issues such as lagging that make the sensation of playing a competitive multiplayer side beaten. The decision not to include a random design system for the level layers you encounter, like other dungeon crawler games, also makes repetitive sensations more pronounced, especially if you have tasted the single-player mode repeatedly.
For now, it’s hard to recommend ReadySet Heroes. Not because he is not exciting and fun, but because of the number of active players there are. Given that the PC version is only available for Epic Games Store, there is always a chance that the active player will jump after it becomes available for Steam later. You can always wait until the game touches a lower price while waiting for a much more active community.
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