When a game turns out to be special, it isn’t very long until the copies and knock offs begin to turn up.
Such is the case with Vampire Survivors; a game which blew my little cotton socks clean off when I reviewed it back in 2022. See, CyberHeroes Arena DX from 9Ratones & RainForest Games and Ratalaika Games tries to recapture some of that vampire magic, attempting to turn out to be something special as well. Have they managed it? Can lightning strike twice? Well, I stepped boldly into the arena to see what was going on.
Are you looking for a satisfying story to go along with your gameplay action? Well, if that is the case then you best look elsewhere, as there isn’t even an attempt at a narrative here in CyberHeroes Arena DX. You press A on the menu, you pick one of a number of robots, and then you try to stay alive. That is the sum total of our motivation. So, best draw a line under it and move on, eh?
Presentation is another area where the game isn’t brilliant, to be honest. The graphics are okay, in a retro styled kind of way, but to be honest, the foes that you face don’t have the personality of that other game I’m not going to mention again. It’s similar with the characters you play as – a variety of robots, each of which is unlocked by performing certain actions in game, such as killing a certain amount of foes. These robots all look broadly the same, just with different paint jobs on them. And while they have different stats that they begin with, I haven’t noticed any real difference between them.
Further to that, the arenas that you fight in are small, just a little bit larger than the screen that you see, and so running away from foes is never really an option.
Honestly, I’ve not been particularly inspired by the sound either. In fact, if you could picture in your mind an Aldi Vampire Survivors you’ll understand what you are getting here. It’s perfectly pleasant, but you’ll continually feel that going to Waitrose would have been more enjoyable.
How about the action then? Well, again, action is maybe the wrong word, as like Vampire Survivors, CyberHeroes Arena DX is an auto- battler. There are some differences, however, the main one being the fact that each run through the game is split into eighteen separate levels, not one big long one like Vampire Survivors. The rounds in this game last anything from thirty seconds up to something like a minute and a half, but even then they feel like they outstay their welcome on the longer ones.
The way that you get power-ups is also different. As you defeat foes in the arena, you collect some kind of currency that you can spend to either buy new skills, or that you can use to buy items from a shop before the start of each level. The skill system is a bit weird, as you are only allowed to equip up to twelve skills at any one time – these can be a mixture of different sets, with skills that freeze foes, that burn them, or that shoot them, There are skills that cause AoE damage, like the pools of poison smoke, and so on, and while it all sounds great as I’m typing it, in practice it all feels a bit underwhelming. You know how in Vampire Survivors, towards the end of a run you are pretty much an unstoppable killing machine, the enemies afraid to go near you? That never happens with CyberHeroes Arena DX, no matter which skills you choose.
Items can also alter the way that the game plays, as they have a variety of effects: usually one good and one bad effect, such as more critical damage, but less base damage, as an example. The main issue is, again, they don’t feel like they have any real effect on how the game plays – does one more point of base damage make that much difference, really?
The biggest crime that CyberHeroes Arena DX commits though is twofold. One, it gives up all its achievements far too easily, as is usual for a Ratalaika Games published title; you’ll quite probably have all achievements unlocked before you get to control the third robot.
The second crime is how this takes a formula that is amazingly addictive and fun, and makes it slightly dull and boring. CyberHeroes Arena DX suffers from a lack of polish, the enemies spawn out of the floor which makes any attempt at avoiding them pretty futile, and you never get to really be strong enough that you can just stand there and let your opponents come to you.
You’d be best off avoiding CyberHeroes Arena DX and spending your time with Vampire Survivors instead. This game isn’t fit to even hold that one’s coat.
CyberHeroes Arena DX is on the Xbox Store