Vertical Drop Heroes HD
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Vertical Drop Heroes HD is simple enough that you can instantly jump in and have fun for a few minutes, but addictive enough to keep you hooked for hours. All the procedural elements keep things interesting and there are tons of skills as well as traits to unlock. The game offers a lot of value for money and will keep you coming back again and again for “just one more go.”

Gameplay: Simple, but very addictive.

Graphics: Cartoonish visuals with some nice 2-D artwork.

Sound: Catchy tunes

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Vertical Drop Heroes HD

Developer: Nerdook Productions | Publisher: Digerati Distribution | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Action / Indie | Website: Official Website | Format: Digital Download

While most games cast you in the role of the “chosen one” you will find that in Vertical Drop Heroes your characters just think that they are the hero. Maybe one of them will turn out to be the one that makes it to the Holy Sanctuary and discover the great secret of existence, but most of them won’t. Their deaths won’t be in vain though, as each one will contribute to the success of the next one, even if it is just a few gold coins.

If you frequent sites such as Kongregate, then the name Nerdhook Productions will probably be familiar. This one-man independent developer has been responsible for quite a few great Flash games and Vertical Drop Heroes HD marks his first foray into the world of commercial releases. The game is actually an update of one of his Flash titles, Vertical Drop Heroes, but after spending a few hours with the game, it is clear that this commercial release offers plenty of value for money even with the original version still available for free.

Vertical Drop Heroes HD challenges you to make it to the bottom of ten randomly generated levels as you battle your way through monsters and bosses. Each level has its own theme and enemies along with a big boss guarding the exit. Instead of travelling from left to right or viewing the action from a top-down perspective as in traditional role playing games, the action takes place mostly on a vertical plane, hence the title. Apart from the myriad of enemies and traps on each level you will also find merchants willing to sell you new traits or powers and shrines that offer temporary advantages. Your initial attempts will more than likely end in failure, but fortunately any gold gathered and traits/powers bought are transferred over to the next heroes. You are given a choice between three different heroes before each run, each with two traits and two powers randomly selected from the pool that you have unlocked thus far. This means that the more you play, the more traits and powers you will more than likely buy, increasing the chances of getting something very useful for your next run.

Coins can also be spent upgrading the health or attack strength of your heroes as well as “Pacifism Points.” The latter is tokens spread throughout the levels, which grant you cash as well as experience, but only if you haven’t directly killed any enemies yet. As soon as you make your first kill the tokens disappear and you will have to earn the cash and experience through killing. If monsters are killed by secondary means such as traps or freed heroes the tokens remain which means you can still use sneaky methods to dispose of enemies while reaping the rewards of the pacifism tokens. Trapped heroes are AI characters that are locked up in cages throughout the levels. Unlocking the cage with a key will cause them to fight by your side until they are killed. While these heroes are undoubtedly useful, keys are also used to unlock treasure chests or the exit portal if you don’t want to kill the bosses, so you have to be careful when and where to use them. You will also find a teleportation shrine on each level that will, at a cost, allow you to teleport back to the level with a new hero without having to complete the preceding levels. Of course, this means that you will miss out on all the loot and experience which may make things harder, but this option is nice for those that are up for the challenge. Speaking of a challenge, completing the main levels opens up the “New +” mode, which is basically an endless mode, which challenges you to see how far you can go before dying.

The visuals in Vertical Drop Heroes HD are rather charming and while the Flash roots of the game is clearly visible the art style still looks good. Just check out the original Flash game HERE to see how much things have been improved. The level s consists of the usual themes such as woods, desert, tomb, cave, cavern, cathedral, volcanic field, frozen peak and more. Backgrounds are kept simple, but the enemy designs are very nice and you’ll be battling little knolls, imps, mummies, zombies and other critters. Things can get a bit chaotic with multiple enemies, spell effects and other things happening at once and a few times I lost track of my character in the heat of battle. The levels are rather short and the procedural nature of the game means you will never see the same layouts twice. Sometimes the random placement of the traps such as the spikes, lava and fire can make them hard to avoid, but this is part of the challenge. Levels are also littered with alarms, which spawn more enemies when triggered which can add to the chaos. After hours of playing I only encountered one situation where my character got stuck because of the level layout, which isn’t too bad considering the randomness of the game.

The audio also boasts some improvements over the original tunes and is quite catchy to boot. Some of the tunes got stuck in my head after playing for hours, but thankfully none of them are repetitive or annoying enough to become a nuisance while playing. The sound effects are also very decent and while nothing stands out as particularly spectacular they do get the job done. The controls are straightforward and while using the keyboard works fine, I would recommend using a controller as it just suits the game better. Besides moving and jumping, buttons are also assigned to your two powers. The game has a normal “attack” button as well, but you can simply bump into an enemy to perform an automatic attack which actually works quite well. Multi-player fans will be glad to hear that the game features a split-screen as well as local network mode so you can tackle the levels with the aid of a friend.

Vertical Drop Heroes had me hooked right from the start and it is certainly a game that will remain installed on my computer for whenever I have a few spare minutes to kill. Anyone that has played the original Flash version should enjoy the new features and upgraded visuals that this HD version brings to the table and considering the low asking price there’s no denying the value for money. I would have like to see more being done with the side quests you find on each level as finding puppies, roses, rings etc. for some of the npc’s doesn’t add much to the experience. The game does feature some great achievements that reward you with in-game items which certainly help the longevity.

While Vertical Drop Heroes doesn’t have the same depth as other Roguelike titles, it is an accessible and addictive entry in the genre. It can obviously become a bit repetitive after you have seen, done and unlocked everything it has to offer, but reaching that point will take hours, which considering the low price tag is something that is very hard to fault.

*Review originally published July 2014.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8
  • Processor: Processor 2 GHz (Dual Core)
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1 compatible 3D graphics card with 256 MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Hard Drive: 40 MB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • Additional Notes: Support for Xbox controllers
  • OS: Windows Vista / 7 / 8
  • Processor: Processor 2 GHz (Dual Core)
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1 compatible 3D graphics card with 512 MB VRAM
  • DirectX: Version 9.0c
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Hard Drive: 40 MB available space
  • Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
  • Additional Notes: Support for Xbox controllers
  • OS: OS X 10.7.0 or later
  • Processor: Processor: 2 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1 compatible graphics card with 256 MB VRAM
  • Hard Drive: 40 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL-compatible sound card
  • OS: OS X 10.7.0 or later
  • Processor: Processor: 2 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • Memory: 256 MB RAM
  • Graphics: OpenGL 2.1 compatible graphics card with 256 MB VRAM
  • Hard Drive: 40 MB available space
  • Sound Card: OpenAL-compatible sound card

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