Have you ever seen a movie called Attack the Block? It’s a great little British movie from 2011 and the plot has a bunch of kids from a small neighborhood stumbling upon an alien invasion that’s taking place where they live. They take it upon themselves to defend their community from the hungry and violent alien aggressors with whatever means they have. The kids are, essentially, random heroes. Attack the Block is the first thing that sprung to mind while Random Heroes, made by Ravenous, who brought us the superb League of Evil games. Unfortunately, Random Heroes is a game that has lots of cool bits, the sum can’t equal its parts.
Just like the movie, Random Heroes features a bunch of unlikely protagonists taking up arms against an alien invasion. Nuns, hillbillies, Neo, Jason, Indiana Jones, Abraham Lincoln and a host of others all join a quest through 30 levels, divided between three worlds, to rid the world of a parade of bizarre looking alien baddies. The levels are pretty big, with lots of different paths to take and secret areas to discover. As you blast away at the increasingly rude aliens, they explode into coins which you can use to buy new characters and weapons.
Give the devil his due.
Buying characters isn’t merely cosmetic either. There are three stats– health, agility, and damage– and the different characters all have different strengths and weaknesses depending on how they have these stats arranged. It can make for an interesting little bit of strategy depending on how you like to play. And it’s kind of funny watching Abraham Lincoln wander around with a sub-machinegun.
However, all of the careful picking of characters and weapons can’t make up for the fact that your success depends as much on luck as it does on actual skill. It’s not difficult in the traditional sense, but you’ll die lots of cheap deaths. The controls are stiff and sometimes unresponsive, making precise movements difficult to perform. Enemies are mind-bogglingly stupid, but lucky for them they can take a massive amount of damage.
Hold it right there, mister.
When a horde of them is mindlessly charging at you or just randomly shooting, you can only hope that they leave you with enough life left to get away. Since you can’t shoot up or down, flying enemies are considerably dangerous, especially the ones with extremely erratic flight patterns, as they have a tendency to come at you while you’re jumping over a pit or taking a ride over a valley of spikes. Some enemies, and even one boss, are able to shoot at you from off screen. You’ll die a lot without even knowing who or what killed you. The boss battles are also disappointingly dull.
Random Heroes is an admirable attempt to make a really fun platformer. The elements are all there, but they don’t gel into something that’s all that much fun. The gameplay is dull, you’ll die more from bad luck than a lack of skill, the controls are imprecise, and the enemies are some of the dumbest and cheapest we’ve ever encountered in recent memory. We really wanted to like this game more than we did. It’s too bad too, because we can see how this game could be awesome. But instead of the righteous Attack the Block, we got the super cheesy Night of the Bloodbeast.