PREVIEW / Next Up Hero (PC)

 

Inspired by old school, twin stick arcade games, Next Up Hero offers a very unique take on multiplayer hotseat type games. There are currently nine heroes available in the Next Hero Up beta (two of which must be unlocked somehow) and each one sports two different offensive abilities. The primary attack is essentially the auto-attack ability. It can be spammed over and over. The secondary attack is a bit more powerful and consumes energy from the character’s “special bar.” I never felt low on energy though as the bar regenerates rather quickly over time.

 

 

 

Once you choose your character, you load into the stage selection screen. Here you have the option to create your own game or join someone elses. Whichever you choose, you’ll start from the beginning of the stage and fight your way through until you die. Combat feels very similar to Forced or Gauntlet. However, unlike in those games, dying in Next Up Hero is kind of a good thing…kind of.

 

Character selection screen.

 

Next Up Hero is designed to be difficult. So much so, that dying is usually an inevitability, not a possibility.  So WHEN the unfortunate does happen and your character falls in battle, just accept it. But know that all is not lost. Your hero will live on as an Echo, a ghostly apparition of their former self, which can be revived by the next hero who plays that stage.

 

The faint, transparent person attacking the enemies is another player’s “Echo.”

 

YOU however, cannot be that hero. A rather annoying aspect of Next Up Hero is if you die, no matter how far you got in a stage, you’re not allowed to play that level again until someone else plays it first. The goal here is that eventually there will be enough echoes of fallen heroes to help someone actually beat the level the whole way through.

 

Stage selection screen.

 

Echoes can do a couple of things to help the Hero that revived them. For one, they can fight enemies for you. Echoes are invincible and as such, can safely draw aggro and dispatch enemies. And while they don’t deal as much damage as a fleshy hero, their presence in a fight is definitely welcomed. If you manage to revive multiple echoes though, you can merge them into monstrous allies called Ancients that can help in combat in various ways.

 

 

One final aspect of Next Hero Up is the equipped ability feature. Any monsters the player slays is tallied in the table shown above. Once the required amount has been slain, the player can unlock that creature’s special attack or skill. Only one of these abilties can be equipped at a time but they can be applied to any hero. One of these added benefits in combat could really mean the difference between beating the level or becoming just another echo.

 

 

I’m definitely keeping Next Up Hero on my radar. It was fun with a lot of hardcore components while still maintaining a casual game atmosphere. You can play the game for five minutes or 50 and still have a good time. To learn more about the game please visit its official website. There is also a short video tutorial that briefly breaks down the game and allows players to hit the ground running.  Next Up Hero will be releasing on PC sometime this year and is headed to the PS4, Xbox One and Switch in 2018.

 

 

 

This preview is based on an early access copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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