If there’s one problem I find consistent in while reviewing indie games, it’s that those that rely on an online community or presence are difficult to review. Square Heroes is a game that seems to be too new, too underground for its own good. Recently Greenlit on Steam, there’s a chance this turns around soon, though, so I tried to do what I could to get a feel for the game through it’s single-player “Tournament” mode. While I’m not certain it’s a fair representation of what playing online would be like, I think it gives enough to examine the potential of the title.
Square Heroes takes the form of an arena-style combat game. Players create their ‘Hero’, essentially boiling down to picking a color for an anthropomorphic square. Other customizations, of course, open up down the line, consisting of hats and weapon loadouts. Players take to the field in standard arena games. Deathmatch and ‘Gnome Hunt’ (essentially a checkpoint capture) were the modes I had a chance to try out, with team varieties featuring as well. Levels are also populated by mindless enemies to be defeated for coins.
What I got to try of Square Hero was actually a bit fun, if somewhat lacking. The graphics and sound aren’t particularly engaging, but the play is quick and the controls are pretty responsive when using a gamepad. Mouse and keyboard is another option, but I didn’t care to try it out. Each round consists of the player(s) battling each other on a map full of enemies. Killing enemies — or other combatants — will earn you coins, which gradually unlock the other weapons you’ve got equipped for use during play. Weapons become available for equipping as the character levels up by gaining XP in battles.
Rounds in Square Heroes, in typical arena-game fashion, can be to a number of kills (or captures) or on a timer. The single-player tournament is divided into three-room tiers, each utilizing a different map, with a mix of game modes to play against bots. Each time I tried the online feature, no games were found. The AI faced in the tournament can be tough, but it’s not especially intelligent and certainly nothing like facing human opposition. Still, it’s an amusing diversion to pick up for short bursts and play.Things can get pretty hairy with some of the weapons available as you level up and expand your arsenal.
All in all, Square Heroes could be a fun pick-up-and-play once the number of players picks up, which a Steam release could bring. The team at Gnomic Studios is, according to the Greenlight page, working on adding in achievements and other finishing touches before it goes live, but in the meantime, the game is available for $9.99 directly from the developers or at Desura. There’s certainly a lack of polish to it, but with the right competition and some practice, it could be worth it for those interested in quick, easy arcade-style play.