Game: Heroes of Hammerwatch Ultimate Edition
Genre: Action, Adventure, Roguelite
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on PC, PS4 and Xbox One)
Developer|Publisher: Crackshell | Blit Works
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: UK £17.99 | EU € 19,99 | AUD $30.00 | USD $19.99
Release Date: July 29th 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to Blit Works
Time With Friends
The original Hammerwatch holds quite a special place for me. A friend of mine from America and I started doing regular game nights together once a week over a year ago now. We both work full time jobs and it was a nice way to round off a long week by playing some games and having a casual chat. Just two good friends having a good time. Hammerwatch was one of the earlier games we started playing. I had an atrocious laptop at the time which could just about run the game. One of my fondest memories is how we couldn’t get our heads round the save system. Every session we played we restarted the game from the start, kinda silly considering how long it is. Eventually we found out that the game quite literally auto saves so there was never any need for us to restart every darn time. Rather than being frustrated though we just laughed at the situation. It’s these gaming memories that I cherish and act as a reminder to me of the importance of laughing through hard situations. Though it’s made a lot easier when someone is there who has your back.
Anyway Heroes of Hammerwatch is a sort of sequel to Hammerwatch and I better start reviewing it.
Changing the Formula
The original Hammerwatch is a retro inspired hack and slash dungeon crawler that feels a lot like a vastly improved Gauntlet which can be enjoyed with up to four people locally or online. It’s a game I highly recommend and is also available on all systems including Switch.
Heroes of Hammerwatch takes the assets of Hammerwatch and creates a different style of game. Where Hammerwatch is simply a game where you move from floor to floor leveling up and destroying bosses. Heroes adds in a rogue lite style of gameplay. The fun hack and slash gameplay is still there but this time death takes you right back to the start. You start the game by choosing a character class and customizing your appearance. I particularly liked that the game allows you to choose your own name for a selected character. Though if you lack the creative spark the game does have some pretty good randomly generated ones too. You’re then dropped into town all ready to start on an adventure.
You enter the mountain from the ground floor and attempt to progress as far as you can before dying. As you traverse the floors you collect gold and items which add automatic buffs to your character. You can also risk taking on an assortment of traps many of which have that ‘Gotcha,’ mentality leading to a quick death. But being patient, learning from your mistakes and observing closely will often reward you more than simply trying to push through the situation. Every floor is randomly generated with the only fixed recurring theme being the boss fights which take place after a few floors. In true rogue lite fashion these are brutally hard until you’ve learned the patterns or brought a trusted friend along to help.
The entry barrier for Heroes it quite high. When you first dive into the dungeons you will die really quickly. You’ll have to restart the game quite a bit before you can make any meaningful progress. It’s possible this barrier to entry may even deter some gamers as it’s not the best first impression. However, if you stick with it and get through this initial hurdle, Heroes becomes quite a deep experience that will have you returning to play it regularly, I certainly did. Despite going into the same floor I loved looking for secret rooms, exploring every nook and deciding what risks to take. This enjoyment was excelled when playing with my buddy.
Between runs you will be hanging around in the main hub town. Here you can access various areas of the town provided you’ve collected enough ore on your runs. You can then use gold to upgrade various stats to make runs more manageable. Once you start unlocking more of the town the game just keeps opening up further. Something I appreciated is if you decided to start a new character class all the town upgrades carry over. It’s simply just your character that needs to level up. Handy considering there are new character classes to unlock as you upgrade different areas of the town.
A Giant Package
With this being the ultimate edition you automatically get all the dlc which has previously been released for the game. In total you have one heck of a package here that’s going to keep you busy for a long time to come. If you’re tired of diving into the mountain you can travel into the desert or icey mountain space and take on new quests and challenges as well as locate several more unlockables. Though I did find these easier to tackle with a higher leveled character.
My biggest issue with Heroes is it’s lack of local co op. The first game had this feature and it felt perfect for the Switch. But like the PC version Heroes decided to drop this important addition. To its credit the Switch version allows online and the ability to play with other Switch users ad hoc. I was unable to test the later but I’m pleased to report online works wonderfully in docked or handheld modes. Still the omission of local co op means I’m unable to enjoy this title with my partner in some creepy cave in the Lake District. Meanwhile I appreciate for some developers its hard to cater to all audiences. The Switch to me is a system that is the king of games enjoyed locally.
Heroes of Hammerwatch is a game that grows on you. While definitely more fun with others I still had a lot of fun alone. It may have minor faults but I loved how I kept discovering something new about the game whether it was discovering a new mechanic or mastering the games traps. This is easily a title I’ll return to for years to come.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up
A huge thanks to Blit Works for kindly providing two review codes for us to test to online with my close friend in America.
Of course a special thanks to my friend who I’ll call Mr. Majong who helped me form this review today. He has turned from being a fan of my old weird podcasts I used to do to becoming a close friend I game with on a weekly basis. I have valued our sessions and they have led to may fond gaming memories which I cherish to this day. Heroes of Hammerwatch will no doubt be on our regular rotation.