When it was first unveiled, roguelike Has-Been Heroes had unique expectations to meet–here was another game from Frozenbyte, developers of the Trine series, in which you control three heroes at once. But while their previous trios worked together well, this game’s eponymous heroes fall short. At the beginning of the game, the bland triumvirate–made up of two veterans pulled out of retirement and a newcomer, not that it matters–sets out on an uninspired quest to deliver two princesses to school on orders of the king. The plot aims for amusing whimsy, but it doesn’t land, so from the first cutscene on, Has-Been Heroes has a motivation problem. Progress is measured in inches across hours of playtime, with your victories coming more from luck than any discernible decision you made.
You’re given control of three heroes–a mage, a rogue, and a warrior–and sent on a series of brief journeys likely to result in death more often than not. Gameplay boils down to a mix of combat and pathfinding: You progress along a map in the bottom right of the screen, choosing between different forks in the road to determine which nodes along the way you will or won’t access. You try to guess the best path forward, one in which, in between battles, you’ll encounter spell and item vendors who’ll boost your stats or abilities in exchange for the gold you’ve collected from fallen enemies. Odds are, though, that you’ll find yourself growing increasingly frustrated that none of the chests or vendors you encounter are giving you useful spells or equipment.
The unique battle system places your three heroes along lanes, with enemies coming at you from the right of the screen. The goal is to chip away at the stamina of whichever enemy is leading the charge in the lane by trying to match it with the number of attacks your heroes have. The rogue, for instance, hits three times, so if you smack an enemy with three stamina points, it’ll be stunned and vulnerable. After an attack, your heroes can switch lanes–put the warrior in the same lane and have him attack next,