Vertical Drop Heroes HD is a procedurally-generated platformer developed by Nerdook Productions and tells the story of a world enveloped in darkness and despair. Overran by monsters and evil beings, a prophecy develops stating that a set of heroes will emerge to defeat the evil that is plaguing the world. Unfortunately, it never stated whom these heroes were, various individuals assumed it was them and sadly, they didn’t make it. You take the role of one of the lucky, chosen ones to partake on an adventure of vertically dropping down levels of a dungeon to defeat the greater evil and save the world. This title contains ten randomly generated levels and a final boss fight that changes between every playthrough. Each stage has a mini-boss at the bottom of the pit that you defeat to continue to the next level. Now, the cool thing is that you can either go through the level guns blazing’ (well…swords blazing…there are no guns in this game) or you can be a sneaky, clone-using ninja having other characters do your bidding and be the ultimate pacifist. When the game starts, you must choose your character out of three different heroes. Each with a different weapon and two special abilities. These special abilities are assigned to the character randomly and more are added to the list when they are purchased throughout the game from a traveling merchant. In addition to purchasing these perks, coins collected on your journey can be used for permanent upgrades on your weapons, health vials, and pacifism orbs or activating monoliths to receive instant upgrades of keys, experience, or money. The heroes are created to form everyone’s favorite play style. Do you like hard hitting knights? There are some of those! Or are you more favorable towards fast swinging rogues? There are some of those too! The best part is if you find a champion that fits you like a glove, you are able to play as the same character after death as much as you want.
The visual style of Vertical Drop Heroes HD is very similar to an interesting hand-drawn cartoon. The visuals give the same vibe as a comic book. Various pop-ups appear throughout your entire journey and it gives a nice sense of achievement that exists with the progress you are making. While the HUD includes how much health you have, the number of coins in your possession, and how much damage that you can inflict on the enemies, the captions are still nice to have. Noticing how much damage that was just imposed upon you during a fight is nicer than having to look away from the action just to make sure you are not about to die. I felt that the soundtrack fit well with the rest of the experience. The music that played while descending into the basin and reaching the boss fight provided a spooky, supernatural feeling to it. The music reminded me of the tune that plays during the introduction of X-Files and I feel that this is a great fit. The uneasy feeling of being alone mixed with the unknown aspect of what is going to be waiting for you at the bottom is panned out well thanks to the addition of this ominous music.
Rogue-like platformers usually leave me with a feeling a mediocracy and unappealing gameplay that did not provide much to meet expectation. However, Vertical Drop Heroes HD did not fall into this category. This game was fun, difficult, challenging and easy to handle all in the same little package. While I found myself having trouble with some of the stages, I would just take my time and learn a method to get to the bottom. Even though the levels changed between every playthrough, there is a sense of common elements between playthroughs. The enemies are similar, but with different patterns and positioning. You can easily overcome the frustrating issues by learning a pattern and taking your time. These aspects of the unknown mixed with the ease to learn a pattern of attacks made this game very interesting in my eyes and I was more than happy to play just one more game. The games only took from five to twenty-five minutes and was action-packed each time around.
Vertical Drop Heroes HD was an invigorating experience that brought something new to the table. The game is priced at $8 USD and I feel that is a fair price. It is great for gamers with little time to sink hours into a game. The short, but action-packed playthroughs make a great little experience that can have a different ending time after time.
Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 8/10