Next Up Hero is a new indie top down action role playing game from indie developer Aspyr. In the game players can play as a variety of different heroes with a range of different weapons and abilities to take on waves of enemies on procedurally generated maps in order to level up and become even stronger and take on tougher enemies.
That’s the basic core gameplay loop of Next Up Hero but it does have a really interesting mechanic where you can resurrect dead heroes scattered around the map to act as AI team mates and will assist you which is necessary to take down the amount of enemies and how tough they are. Characters have a number of different weapons better suited to either up close or ranged combat from standard soldiers with sword and shield, a thief type character that can make herself invisible for a short period to sneak up and get the first few strikes on enemies to characters with rocket launchers or remote control cars that blow up and have abilities like missiles that can be directed at a group of enemies close together or make a machine gun turret.
This all sounds great and it’s these features that had me excited to play Next Up Hero. Unfortunately it all starts to fall apart when the enemies themselves have very little AI and just seem to mob rush at you and either stab or shoot you to death. Plus there’s no real nuance to any of the combat and it all feels very button-mashy, clunky and inaccurate.
The randomly generated maps suffer from what a lot of games suffer that have similar procedurally generated levels in that every level feels the same albeit a slightly different layout and the levels feel like just an empty open field to run around and fight enemies in. There are a number of different backdrops with grass, desert, snow and lava environments but what it amounts to is quite literally a palette swap.
There is also online coop but I had great difficulty getting into a game as it kept disconnecting from the server apart from one occasion where I was able to spectate another player for a few minutes and then got disconnected again before I could join them.
There is a story of sorts as well and while it’s fully voice acted and reasonably well performed it doesn’t really do anything other than add some context to the gameplay but I didn’t really follow it as it didn’t really pull me in.
Needless to say I didn’t have a very good time playing Next Up Hero and can’t recommend it. There are some interesting ideas here but it’s all very poorly executed. With more time put in to polishing the game and making the environments and AIs more engaging it might have been a fun little game but as it is it’s just too shallow and repetitive for me to want to invest any substantial amount of time in.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4 & PC
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £12.99 (free on Xbox Game Pass)