Random Heroes has an interesting premise. It is a shooter-platformer in a retro style where you can control one of an arsenal of 28 “random heroes”. You can unlock them through beating levels and gaining stars, earning money to buy new weapons in the process. By design it is very simplistic and every achievement can be farmed within about an hour of play. Will it rise to be a favourite in its own right or is it just worth it for those sweet, sweet achievements?
Random Heroes: Gold Edition is very proud of the fact that it isn’t very fleshed out. The story itself is fairly simple. Earth has been invaded by aliens. You and your team of heroes must team up to eliminate them, make your way through all the areas and defeat the bosses. The story takes a backseat to the gameplay itself and this is probably a good choice given its style. The characters also don’t have much of a story. In most titles with many characters, they wouldn’t call them random, as they would give some level of background, however shallow that may end up being. Random Heroes doesn’t even attempt to trick you with thinking those characters matter. I’ll leave this up to you whether or not this works. There isn’t much else to say in this regard as not much is offered, yet it does allow us to move on to the game itself.
Random Heroes has very simplistic controls: general movement, a jump and a shoot button. That’s it. Unfortunately, the movement controls often feel very floaty and enemies touch you through objects repeatedly. The hitbox on your hero always feels slightly off. The gunplay, for the most part, is totally fine. You click, it shoots. That’s about it. And after every kill, you are awarded coins which can be spent on new, more powerful weapons. In a sense, the game has a linear progression. As you go on, your weapons become more powerful, you earn new heroes and occasionally get more health. In turn, the enemies get stronger, quicker and shoot more. Whilst this progression can be used to make you realise how much stronger you’ve become, the short length of the game makes this progression start to feel arbitrary. You don’t feel stronger, so much as you’ve played enough levels for the game to randomly award you better heroes.
The game itself is much longer than i was expecting it to be and the progression system of both the weapons and heroes may take you a while to make your way through. Whilst some give a lot more, the majority of enemies throughout the game give tens of coins, with the final weapon taking some 80000 to unlock. Unfortunately, the gun – and game itself – aren’t interesting enough to justify that level of grinding. Getting to the end of Random Heroes becomes less an act of enjoyment and more one of resilience. It only takes a few hours to get through yet I was bored tens of levels before the end. This happens as there is very little variation throughout the entirety of the game.
Whilst there are different guns and heroes, they mostly bring just an aesthetic change and a stat boost. Oftentimes, new items didn’t feel new at all. The same can be said of the enemies. The starting enemies still appear near the very end of the game as it semi-regularly adds new enemy types but rarely gets rid of the old. This has the effect of making almost every level feel the same. The same can be said of the level design. Whilst there are secrets to be found, none of them feel particularly different. It feels like rather than making 30 well-designed, creatively unique levels, Random Heroes goes for 108 very similar ones.
The art style of Random Heroes works fine for what it is trying to achieve, but it won’t blow you away. It is often murky and grimy but at least the majority of items are clear from their image. Enemies, coins and projectiles are easy to see, and fundamentally that is all you need to worry about. The music is also serviceable. It’s not particularly interesting but offers thematically similar genres and styles. Both the art style and music work for what the game is, but fail to do anything more than that. They aren’t particularly interesting or unique, but then they also aren’t bad.
In essence, that sums up what Random Heroes: Gold Edition on Xbox One is. All the base elements of the game work fine. They aren’t incredible but they don’t need to be. It is a fairly basic platformer-shooter with some light progression systems. Fundamentally, Random Heroes feels like a game built for mobile devices. It is not in any sense a bad game but it does nothing in a market already filled to the brim with great platformers, even at a similar price range. Furthermore, the 108 levels are an absolute chore to get through, making me wish I hadn’t even started it.