Back in my day, RPGs didn’t fill the screen to the edges, so it’s nice to return to that design.
Welcome to Pixel Heroes: Byte and Magic, a game designed like the RPGs of old. That means big chunky pixels, and cute animations! The game is also as linear as an arrow, so no worries about those winding paths that were more often than not found in newer games.
Join a party of three heroes on their adventure to complete random quests for NPCs, until they can embark on the other, future parts of the campaign. You will need to complete eight of the NPC quests in a campaign, and with three campaigns of increasing difficulty for you to battle your way through, there is a fair amount of content to fight through.
The quests for each NPC are random and used as a way to tell some jokes with their descriptions and names. The real gameplay comes when you leave the town and head to the determined location. The game sets you on a predetermined path and moves you quickly along the screen, allowing you to meet three random events as you progress to the destination. These events can give you loot, engage you in combat, give you small rewards, or give you an opportunity to learn what dangers you will face at your destination.
And when you finally reach that destination, you’ll need to fight your way through seven layers, each with their own enemies that you’ll have to eliminate. After which, you’re left to face up to the boss of the dungeon. The enemies increase in difficulty the further you get into the dungeon, but you’re given a chance to manage your inventory and heal your heroes (if you have the potions, that is), before you go to the next level. Facing the boss is another matter entirely though and you’ll need to use some strategy, and a lot of luck, if you want to successfully defeat them.
Now, Pixel Heroes – Byte and Magic is pretty alright in what it does. You’ll have to take a few losses on the chin before you get a really good party and burn through the campaign. The part that sees it all get a bit boring though is having to restart and go through the first dungeon or two with slow progression. It really does start to wear you down and drops a really unsavoury feel – restarting every time you fail. A bright side to restarting is being able to unlock and utilise new heroes and classes that might give the edge you need to knock the final dungeons out of the park.
To unlock new characters, you have to complete arbitrary challenges, such as reviving three characters in one game, or by killing certain enemies. You have five heroes to choose from in the tavern, and these will cycle through each time you start a new game. There are over thirty heroes in this game, and the best ones are locked behind the hardest of doors, so it’s definitely a challenge to get your dream team assembled.
Now, the heroes aren’t really balanced all that well. I played with a priest, and he was able to solo a dungeon without it being a threat. All I needed was a weapon that attacked all three of the enemies and a spell that healed me for 100 percent of my faith stat. I was even fortunate enough to get a healing spell that gave me frenzy, causing my damage output to be drastically increased. I was able to do better with just my priest, for it allowed me to immediately use my priest, instead of having to wait a turn to use another of his abilities. The only thing that finally stopped me was a boss that gave me three debuffs, all of which I wasn’t immune to.
And it is those debuffs which are a nice part of Pixel Heroes. Each dungeon is less of a focus on what enemies are there, and more of what debuffs they might afflict you with. If you equip the right gear, the enemies won’t really pester you that much, and you’ll be able to march into the boss fight without much faff.
This means Byte and Magic does start to wear down your patience with the tedium. Having a slight grind or repetitive action is fine, but basing your whole gameplay around a combat system with nothing but wait timers between each fight is really monotonous, and it starts to take a big toll. After a few hours of playing Pixel Heroes, I started to tap out, and it just bored me no end. If there was something, whether it be grinding for experience through a mini-game, or even a mini-game to increase your carry slots, this game would benefit substantially.
Overall though, Pixel Heroes: Byte and Magic is made for those who really cherish RPGs from the past. It has got its flaws, but is definitely a game for fans of the genre and time period.