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Heart&Slash Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Heart&Slash is one of those rare games where practically every element of the game is working its hardest to ruin the fun. From horrendous camera problems to terrible gameplay to enemies that are too aggressive too early, Heart&Slash is one misfire after another. I'm sure there's a good game deep down inside this frustrating action game, but it's hard to see the potential in its current state. Rating: 30%
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  • Review Score:

  • D+
Heart&Slash has a lot of things going for it. It stars an adorable robot friend, takes place in a compelling futuristic world and mixes roguelike elements with the fun of old school hack and slash action games. It's a fast-paced adventure with nearly 100 weapons and customizations, all with different moves and ways to be upgraded. It's the kind of game I would normally rave about. There's just one problem, I absolutely hate Heart&Slash.

This is a game about a robot who wakes up 100 years after the Robolution and is thrown into a randomly-generated world filled with mechanical bad guys. The little guy will pick up weapons and fight through a number of simple maps filled with both loot and danger. But beware, this is a roguelike. Once Heart powers down for good, you'll need to start the game over from the beginning with only the unspent experience points left to help.

The game hopes you'll want to keep jumping back into the world to discover all the new weapons and enemies. And to the game's credit, Heart&Slash has a lot of both. I was constantly uncovering new guns, swords and hammers, all of which get added to my collection and randomly placed in the level with each run. Heart is able to hold up to three weapons at once and switch at a moment's notice. This allows for a lot of satisfying combos where you're switching from one weapon to the next and unleashing hell.

The variety of weapons and items is the real star of the show. You'll find that even similar looking swords will have radically different power moves. What's more, you can dump experience points into every weapon and accessory, giving our hero some super-robot moves. It's a great idea that should have translated into an exciting action game. But boy did this game let me down. I spent hours trying my hardest to not actively hate Heart&Slash, and I'm here to tell you that I failed.

This game is punishingly difficult. I don't mean in the Dark Souls kind of way, where it requires practice and patience to prevail in a harsh world. I mean that every aspect of this game is working against you to create one of the most maddeningly frustrating experiences you'll find this year. Do you like cheap hits? This game is full of them. It's also teaming with unbalanced enemies, limited health pick-ups and a whole host of technical problems.

Heart&Slash (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

One of the most glaring problems is the camera, which spends a lot of time swinging wildly out of control. Part of the problem is that the arenas are often in small and cramped locations, so the camera is never sure what it should be looking at. This means that you'll spend as much time fighting the camera as you are trying to kill off-screen enemies. There's nothing worse than being shot at from bad guys you can't even see.

That brings me to an even bigger problem. It's not just that our cute little robot keeps getting hit with off-screen projectiles, it's that those shots take a lot of damage. We only start with six hearts, so an attack that takes two or three of those hearts is a big deal, especially since you start over from the very beginning when you die. This problem is compounded with the boss fights, where some of their attacks can take more than half of your health. It's not fun rushing into a situation and immediately dying, and I found that happening every single time.

The sparse health pick-ups only help to make the problem worse. Sure, you'll run into a box or enemy that will refill some of your health, but it's usually only one or two hearts. That's nothing when the next attack takes half of your health. The game wants you to recycle your equipment to refill hearts, but that doesn't give back much life and ditching the gear only leaves you in a worse situation. Recycling a shield for one lousy heart is pointless when every single enemy attack takes more than that.

Heart&Slash (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

And then there are the random issues. No, I don't mean the technical hiccups and frame rate issues, though those aren't helping anything. I'm talking about how random weapons are dropped in the stages for each run. That's great if you start with two or three great weapons, but it's useless if all you get are boxing gloves and a duck costume. You'll likely opt to die intentionally every time you suffer through a bum weapon drop.

Any one of these problems would have given me major pause, but the fact that all this works together to create a perfect storm of terrible action makes it nearly unplayable. Just when it starts to click, I'm immediately killed by a lone bullet or swarm of enemies I wasn't expecting. The fact that the game doesn't even ease you into the action with less aggressive enemies makes me wonder who Heart&Slash is even for. I'm of the mind that today's games are too easy and often yearn for the old school challenge, but it has to be fair. Throwing powerful enemies at you from the start and giving you almost no health items is not fair.

I'm sure there's a good game deep down inside this frustrating action game. I'm sure that with some balancing and a lot of changes to the camera, this could be an interesting hack and slash roguelike. But that's not the game that is for sale today. Heart&Slash has a cute look and a likable hero, but unless you like throwing your controller against the wall in frustration, I would avoid this unnecessarily sadistic action game.
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