Imagine if all the heroes we have come to love, such as Batman or Superman, weren’t around to continue saving the world.. What would we do? In our darkest time, there will be those that step forth and carry on what the heroes have started. You are the one that stands between chaos and order.
Deadbeat Heroes is a fan letter to 70s era comic book stories, pop culture, and the British lifestyle. It takes a cell-shaded style and infuses it with a quirky atmosphere, collectively propelling our heroes to save innocent people and beat up the bad guys. It is not farfetched to say Adam West’s Batman series had an influence on this game, due to the sound effects and words popping up as you fight against the goons.
Enter England in the 1970s. Captain Justice fought valiantly with heroes of the golden age, but his comrades are too occupied to clean up the streets of England. Captain Justice’s backup plan? Recruit ordinary citizens, equip them with rocket powered gloves, and they continue to fight crime in the streets.
Each area you tackle in Deadbeat Heroes is divided into different stages. There are 3-4 stages for each chapter. After you complete each stage, this unlocks a final boss fight. From the start of the stage, you are tossed into battle against generic goons familiar to a lot of games. There is the basic goon that will attack you with physical punches , a ranged goon that carries a pistol, assault rifle or shotgun, and a baseball bat goon that can’t be attacked from up front. Each goon must be dispatched in different ways and the head on approach won’t always work.
Civilians will be in the mission area as you fight off all the goons. Civilians stand still until you run up to them, filling up a green bar. As soon as the bar is filled up, they run away safely and drop a small cash reward. With this money, you’re able to fill up a special loot crate bar. The bosses at the end of each level you defeat drop their powers. They range from invisibility, explosions, as well as other powers. The powers you acquire from the fallen bosses aren’t permanent, but they can tip the fight in your favor against a difficult final boss.
The grade system is a core element in Deadbeat Heroes. On a scale from F to S, with S being the highest you can achieve. You are graded on the number of enemies defeated, civilians saved, and combos successfully chained. There is an audience element during combat that adds a sense of 4th wall breaking, similar to Deadpool. Depending on how well you do, combined with the occasional verbal snark you can tell your enemies while you’re thrashing them, the audience will applaud, cheer, or boo for you. The level will tell you what grade you must achieve in order to complete the level successfully. If you fail, go back to the start screen and load back up. This also allows players to try out different strategies against each enemy in your way. The audience element also blends into the humor of Deadbeat Heroes, allowing players to have fun saving the world, while thrashing bad guys.
The combat is streamlined enough so anyone can pick it up and play.The rocket powered glove allows you to link combos, dashing through the air for a drill attack, and evasive purposes. If you time it just right, you’re able to launch your enemy up in the air and begin juggling him, allowing you to chain into other combos. Joy surged through me as I smashed through my enemies, with the roar of the crowd applauding me and cheering me to victory.
The super attack is the real highlight of combat in Deadbeat heroes. You gain blue power orbs from fallen enemies each time you beat them down. When your blue meter of your character is filled up, a devastating final attack instantly knocks out common goons. For special units such as the exploders and invisible specialists, it will require more than one charged up attack to take them out. The game pushes you to learn from your mistakes and devise new ways to complete the stage.
When you use your temporary power, your character transforms into the standard costumed superhero. He or she wears a particular suit, accompanied by the iconic cape. You’re still able to rocket punch everything and anything, but this time you have the added bonus of using the powers of each boss you’ve defeated.
What also stands out about this game is the soundtrack. Think of a 70s buddy cop show, such as Starsky and Hutch. You’re strolling down the streets, roughing up each goon that stands in your way. Eventually, one of them will fold and lead you to the big prize of their ringleader.
Deadbeat Heroes trades a complex story line for streamlined brawling game play. The local drop in coop is a bonus and it allows you and a friend to fight together to complete each stage. Each hero is graded individually, but it all goes to getting to the final boss. Despite Deadbeat Heroes’ spunky spirit, it doesn’t dash away without flaws.
The first problem that holds back Deadbeat Heroes from superhero greatness is the main menu. After each mission is completed or failed, it warps you back to the main menu and forces you to manually go to the red telephone to start the next mission. The next thing that holds back Deadbeat Heroes is the grade system. The grade system in Deadbeat Heroes is critical enough to mean the difference between victory or failure. Without the minimum grade level against the final boss, players are flung back to the first chapter. You will start again and earn each grade, until you eventually meet up with the final boss.
The grade system can be dealt with, but it can be repetitive. Difficulty increases as you progress through the game and over time, the levels can seem to be repetitive. Enter a level, beat up the bad guys, gain the highest score and then move on. Eventually, you’ll run into the boss, then you rinse and repeat. This also progresses the story and unlocks new characters to choose from. The characters don’t have any distinguishable differences between them, other than a different gender or cosmetic look to them. They all share the same abilities and the only difference among them is dialogue.
Overall, Deadbeat Heroes offers a unique experience. It takes the familiarity of the superhero genre, but adds in cracking jokes akin to Spider-man and even an audience that will cheer or applaud based on how you fare in combat. If the flaws can be overlooked, you will have a blast with this unique take on the superhero genre. I would encourage small developers like Deadbeat Studios to explore quirky little games like this one in the future. In an era that is flooded with sequels, prequels, and spinoffs, it’s nice to see a new take on something all of us in pop culture have heard about.
For the price of the game, £11, it is a reasonably priced game.. Though the game lacks replayability options and the main story appears to be short, this can still be a fun afternoon or lost weekend to be had playing Deadbeat Heroes. The blend of humor, unique time period, and easy controls made this game presentable enough to warrant my time for a fun experience.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
Replay Value - /10
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