Gaming has come a very long way ever since the mid to late 80’s when home consoles were seen as a detriment rather than a benefit, and much of the industry was still trying to figure itself out. Fast forward to today and we have an industry that’s blossomed beautifully with a plethora of titles out there for many of us to choose from. The community is perhaps the sole reason for the enormous growth the industry has seen and hopefully this community driven trend will continue for many more years. Next Up Hero is a title from developer Digital Continue which pretty much all came from community driven ideas. It’s a 3D Action Adventure Beat em’ Up that puts you the player into procedurally generated worlds, where every stage that you choose is all created by the community that supports it. Run through every session trying to make your way to the boss, dealing with a plethora of monsters who have an insatiable desire to see that you die before you get there. If you love a good challenge that’s constantly different every time, then we highly suggest trying Next Up Hero out.
What to Expect
As a heads up, the current build that we were given is still in its early phase and thus whatever you read moving forward is strictly for preview purposes, and does not reflect the full version of the game which is slated to release early 2018. We will say however that there’s plenty to expect within the game as you’ll be able to create your own session (which is essentially a stage) and others can jump into your stage and take on the monsters freely. You, too, can jump into other sessions that have been created by other players, and try your best not to get killed. Next Up Hero allows you to choose from a total of 9 characters, 5 of which are playable in the current build of the game. You have Paladrin, DoubleDown, Rook (our personal favorite), Morta and Widget. Each character comes with their own unique movesets which they can use to fend off monsters in battle, so picking a character based on your own personal tastes is certainly encouraged. We’ll dive more into the gameplay section in just a moment but before we do that, we wanted to point out one more thing and that’s Echoes.
Echoes are similar to “souls” that you’d come across in games like Dark Souls or the more recent Nioh series, but unlike in these games where you have to fight them once summoned Next Up Hero allows you to team up with them and take down the hordes of monsters that stand in your way. It’s a very fun mechanic that we’ll dive deeper later but certainly look forward to it once you get your hands on this!
The content we were bestowed with was quite plentiful though and we had a great time playing with Rook, a character who focuses more on playing a ranged game than being up close. Each session within the game comes with its varying levels of difficulty ranging from a very tame easy mode to the unforgiving and sadistic epic mode. In this epic mode, you’ll need to be on your A-game every time to even get past level 1. While the game isn’t described as rogue-lite, there are certainly hints of it within the game. When you die on any level you have to start all over again because that session can’t be played again until someone else has. If that sounded a little confusing, let’s put it this way; when you die you can’t replay the same session twice in a row. That’s ok though because there’s a plethora of sessions available to play so long as there are players playing. Luckily for us, there were a bunch of players online. Going into more detail pertaining to sessions, basically when a session is created it shows up on the main screen along with the others. The more popular the session is the longer the session will stay up, while sessions will start to “decay” if less people interact with it. We assume this was implemented so that players get a fair share of being able to create and play and not just have the same sessions pop up over and over again. This keeps things fresh for everyone and adds more replay value to the overall experience. Each time someone plays a stage, the decay timer resets. This gives players the impression that perhaps that session is popular and so you’ll probably find more Echoes since so many people died there. Brand new sessions that anyone creates have a maximum duration of 60 minutes, after which the stage will disappear unless someone plays on it and the timer resets. The only way for you to play a stage again is if someone plays it after you’ve died. The game will show a small indicator on the session to let you know you can’t enter.
You basically have an infinite number of tries on a given session so long as you let others play the stage after you’ve been killed. That’s truly an awesome perk about Next Up Hero. It’s multiplayer in the sense that you’re playing with other people, but not in the way you typically would. Everyone creates stages for each other to play on, and essentially the Echo acts as your teammate going into every battle which is a huge plus. So let’s say 8 or 9 people played on one session and you decide to jump in, those 8 Echo’s will be scattered throughout the map. If you manage to find them all, then battling your way to the boss level should be a piece of cake. The more people that died within a session the better, or at least that’s the way we perceived it; You have a higher chance of running into Echoes who can assist you at any given time. We don’t know if you’ll be able to actually have real players assist you during your sessions, but hopefully that will be the case down the road. Having the opportunity to tag up with real people Gauntlet Legends style would be a real rewarding experience. We’ll be honest with you, these monsters aren’t easy to take on by oneself and the AI for the Echoes aren’t always very reliable. There have been moments where our Echoes would stop following us or they’d glitch out and start twitching in one spot then bug out completely.
Other issues were small obstacles such as spikes in the ground that we couldn’t even see due to so much happening on screen all at once. We’d take unnecessary damage so much that, by the time we realized what was happening we were already dead. Fortunately we were able to stream the game via Twitch and one of the devs was very open to our feedback, and made sure that immediate changes would be made for that particular issue. That’s a plus in itself too because it’s not very often that the devs of a game really show a strong consideration for their title, and hop into your stream to not only discuss any issues that arise, but to just build rapport and get to know us. More companies should implement this type of community driven effort because it will truly help to make games more well rounded, and again build great relationships. Aside from the sessions there wasn’t much else available as far as content, but they were advertised in the game to let us know things are being worked on such as the Champions Trail. As you play through each session you collect what’s known as Grand Tokens which can be used to purchase skins for your favorite characters, and there are other unlockables within the game such as character skills and ancients. Skills don’t require tokens but rather your ability to take out specific enemies in order to get them. We would’ve liked if we could have the choice to either use our tokens or kill the enemy just so that we have some variety and it could perhaps benefit us while taking part in the more difficult sessions.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Aside from everything we mentioned, there isn’t much else to dive into. Otherwise, we’d start repeating ourselves. The gist of it all is that Next Up Hero is a fantastic game that allows you to create but to also play what you’ve created also, which makes the replay value increase over time. The sessions alone are such a blast to play. With more and more players joining the current beta, the gameplay will start to feel endless. We’ve yet to see someone defeat a boss in the game and determine what reward you get, but we’ll keep grinding until we take out the boss ourselves! Is this is a must have game? At the moment we could honestly say yes because there’s plenty to achieve as you play and with more content coming down the pipeline, who knows what’s in store.
Community Driven which is a huge plus.
Procedurally generated stages add so much replay value.
You can create your own sessions and have others play it, and vice versa!
Very simple in its design with very colorful visuals.
Some obstacles couldn’t be seen on the floor which led to a lot of random deaths.
Echo AI weren’t very intelligent at times, often not following us.
More can be done to ensure acquiring skills is easier.
Honey's Final Verdict:
We hope you found our impressions of Next Up Hero to be useful and will give you the incentive to try this game out for yourself, because you truly will not be disappointed. We’ll be spending a lot more time with the game once the second beta rolls around, but until then we’ll continue to enjoy the sessions and making our way to the boss battles. Find us on Twitch @HoneysGaming and be sure to follow us on Twitter to know when we go live, but also to stay up to date on all the latest gaming, anime, and manga news!
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!