Vertical Drop Heroes is a re-release of an older Steam game, which at the time was a re-release of a browser-based game. How does it hold up now that it’s come to the Playstation Vita?
As the title suggests, Vertical Drop Heroes sees you moving downwards in a level, a like you would do in Downwell, another fun little indie title on the Vita. Vertical Drop Heroes is much less of a straight up action platformer though, instead infusing the genre with hefty doses of roguelike and RPG elements.
Upon the start of each game, you can select a randomly generated player character, each with slightly different attributes. The levels that follow are also randomly generated, as are the (positions of) the characters that inhabit it and the pickups you can grab. The pickups are important, especially when you consider the long term objective. In the short run, you’ll likely die – quick and often.
The gold and orbs you acquire help you upgrade your current character, but it’s always smart to invest in permanent boosts as well – since those apply to future characters as well. Every time you die, you get a choice between three other characters, and the roster gets consistently stronger giving you more of a chance at success.
Success is defined by defeating the boss at the end (or bottom) of each level, although picking up plenty of keys will also enable to you dodge the boss and head straight for the exit door. You can grow even more quickly in strength by taking on mid-level quests from characters, or by picking up certain crystals that only stay visible until you engage in combat – forcing you to play a little more stealthily for a bit.
This pattern repeats itself during every level, and thus gameplay can get fairly repetitive – especially during longer gameplay sessions. The random level generation means that you need a small amount of luck in order to progress/level up quickly as well, which might not please those who prefer some of the more skill-based roguelikes.
The audiovisual presentation of Vertical Drop Heroes is that which you’d expect from a typical 2D indie platformer, especially one that originated as a web-based game. It’s colorful, it’s tile-based, and it’s functional. It translates really well to the Vita because of this, which makes the Vita our preferred platform for the game – something that’s further aided by the fact that the game is best enjoyed in short little bursts where you can jump into a game and leave it again 10 minutes later.
It’s not going to revolutionize platforming or roguelikes, but Vertical Drop Heroes is a solid little timewaster. During a time where Vita releases are far and few between, it’s good to have another reason to power up the handheld for a bit every now and then.