What’s better than a good old British accent mixed with over the top comedy one liners and quirky comic book style art work? Nothing, that’s what! This is Deadbeat Heroes, developed by Deadbeat Productions and published by Square-Enix Collective, the Japanese publisher’s indie funding branch. Deadbeat Heroes in a heartbeat is a bare-bone superhero game about the never ending fight between good and evil, served to you as a top-down 3D based brawler. Deadbeat heroes infuses comedy with smack and whack gameplay as you swiftly move through each stage beating the living daylights out of anyone that steps up to the plate.
The game starts out by introducing you to the dire circumstances at hand. Most of London’s superheroes have been beaten down by a powerful movement of foes, leaving the titular Deadbeat Heroes with no option but to get stuck in and save the day. It’s a daft story and certainly doesn’t stand tall as one of the games’ strong-suits, but then that’s to be expected when you look at the silly exterior. You wont be using any natural powers to fight back the bad guys, but instead will rely on a powerful gauntlet that gifts you with great strength and abilities. Beginning your quest to save England in this cel-shaded 70’s themed action game is as simplistic as can be thanks to the easy control layout and fluid gameplay, but that’s not to say that you’re in for an easy ride, because you’re not.
Each chapter is split into a select portion of levels (all named after places in London) which all play out in the same fashion. Make your way through each level and beat back a horde of evildoers to progress further, it couldn’t be more straightforward if it wanted to be. Each level will rank you upon completion depending on how well you perform, with each chapter requiring you to complete each level in a certain rank or better. If you fail to meet the requirements you will need to go back and try the levels again to get a better rank. The real challenge rears its ugly head when you take into account that you only get one life in each level, and if you die, that’s it. You can gain extra chances to beat a level so long as you’ve unlocked new heroes as these will jump in when you bite the dust.
Combat is silky smooth with only a few commands to keep on track of. You can attack via a single button, jump and double jump, dash and turbo. When you make it further into the game you’ll also unlock special moves, which prove to come in handy when you have a screen full of enemies that need teaching a lesson or two. Enemies also vary from typical grunts and henchmen, right up to heavy gunners, grenadiers and of course a handful of boss battles. Boss fights vary pretty well as far as design and move-sets come into it and do prove to be quite tough if you don’t keep on top of them. Successfully disposing of enemies will often reward you with blue orbs that you can pick up to build up your turbo. Upon the completion of each level you will have the ability to purchase upgrades for your gauntlet, which further adds a nice layer of progression to the mix.
The design of each and every level is self contained and offers up a solid blend of style and design. The promotional content and trailers leading up to launch really hasn’t done Deadbeat Heroes any justice, because the small snippets you can witness from the videos are hardly using the best assets and environments from the overall experience, which is odd. The Deadbeat Heroes can access a base of operations in which they can purchase the aforementioned upgrades, take on call-in missions or refine their skills in the gym. That being said there are some issues that I would like to call-in myself. Loading screens can be excessively lengthy, which is something you will witness each and every time you beat a level thanks to having to be constantly returned to the menu screen.
It makes the drop-in co-op system even more irritating due to the second player needing to rejoin upon each completion. The worst issue however is the crashing, something that I have had to endure more times than I would care to count. Essentially Deadbeat Heroes is one strong patch away from being more than a decent brawler, but I would hope the devs address the structure in which we needlessly have to return to the menu, over and over again. It’s a mind boggling method for a game in 2017, and even more so when you sit back and look at how hard the devs have worked to ensure that Deadbeat Heroes is as accessible as can be, only to fall short with sloppy functionality.
Deadbeat Heroes is a lot of fun thanks to how simplistic and ‘pick up and play’ it is, but issues with the constant need to be returned to the main menu, the fact that co-op requires a second player to dive in upon each completion and the issues with the crashing, does pull this short of excellence. The visuals and level designed grouped with the enemy variants and the fluid combat system houses enough to keep players’ engaged for several hours on end, and on that note I fully recommend it to both genre fans and newcomers alike. It’s by no means the best brawler on the scene, but it certainly stands steady with what tricks it has up its sleeves.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.