We just saw three titles land on the PlayStation 4 that were previously released on other platforms but that we didn’t want to keep from you. In this port roundup, we look at PQube’s arcade-inspired Gravity Heroes, Buster’s Quest: Trials of Hamsterdam and the console release of Breathedge.
As a publisher, PQube has been steadily diversifying its portfolio during these past few years, with creative games like Supermarket Shriek, racers like Inertial Drift, Cat Quest and the recently released Root Film. Gravity Heroes, which was developed by Electric Monkey, is their next title, and it combines classic arcade influences with more modern physics elements. After an initial release on Steam, the game is now available on consoles as well.
Gravity Heroes doesn’t hide its retro influences either, with an audiovisual style that says “pixel art” but at the same time features a ton of tiny details and color for a great end result. The developers have also poured a lot of attention into the game’s characters, which besides their own look and feel also have unique interactions with other members of the roster depending on your crew choices and flow of the campaign, which makes everything feel organic and worthy of a repeat playthrough.
Story-wise, there’s an uprising occurring in a future were humans and robots (‘synthetics’) co-exist, and you and your fellow Gravity Heroes are trying to find out why. Of course, this being an arcade-inspired game, the emphasis is on the gameplay itself, but it’s nice to have tidbits of story in between levels that are more than just reasons to hammer the X button to continue playing.
And although a lot of the in-game action in Gravity Heroes might look like a standard 2D arcade platformer/shooter, the big hook here is the gravity-based gameplay, where you have the power to shift the direction of gravity in order to fire from the ceilings and/or walls and take out your enemies. Needless to say, this can turn scenes into pretty frantic affairs, and it takes a little getting used to.
Gravity Heroes can be played solo, but it’s an extremely challenging game and especially punishing in its single player mode. Reviving downed teammates isn’t an option here, and the difficulty level doesn’t scale back from the 4-player experience, so you can imagine the odds. This is a “bring a friend” kind of experience, but luckily the game supports both local and online co-op play.
What the biggest issue in Gravity Heroes appears to be is a lack of balance, something that’s especially clear in the single player mode – which is a shame because it can ruin an otherwise fun narrative-driven campaign. Playing with others definitely helps alleviate matters somewhat, but you’ll still feel like the odds are stacked against you and some of the weapon pickups feel underpowered. With a few tweaks, this one could be a real blast, but – especially in single player – it can also be a bit of a struggle.
Buster’s Quest: Trials Of Hamsterdam
Buster’s Quest: Trials of Hamsterdam from Indie Remix Studios actually released earlier this year, but it didn’t become available in the bulk of the digital storefronts out there until this past week, making it available to PlayStation players worldwide.
In Buster’s Quest, you can play as either Buster or Busterina – cute little chubby hamsters out to rescue the other one in a quest that’s comprised of 2D puzzles in which you collect footprints to reveal a key and open the exit, staying safe from the animals that might harm you. It’s a pretty basic concept that comes complete with block pushing elements, and that simplicity is somewhat deceiving because different animals will exhibit different behavioral patterns – and thus represent different gameplay mechanics.
Eagles, for example, will swoop at you from across the screen if they catch you in their line of sights, while armadillos are relatively harmless and just want to fall asleep when they touch you. Later on, you’ll learn that this can be turned into a useful feature, as you can use their sleeping bodies as a way to block the path of an enemy, giving you safe passage.
Picking up items can be a bit finicky in terms of the controls, but they do come in useful when they give you (temporary) abilities that will help you beat a level. In some cases, this can be a bubble that you can shoot at enemies, trapping them Bubble Bobble-style for a moment. Other items will let you traverse dangerous surfaces, giving you access to footprints or letting you evade enemies that way.
While there’s plenty of regular gameplay to enjoy (with over 150 levels), you can also strive for faster completion times, something that’s worth a few trophies as well – giving additional replay value especially to the trophy hunters among you. This is an area where the finicky controls can be a bit of a bother though, and for some reason the in-game action forced me to use the d-pad rather than the thumbstick as well – there’s definitely room for quality of life fixes here.
One area where Buster’s Quest failed to impress is in the audiovisual department. With very basic visuals that look like an MS-DOS from the early 90s and an unimpressive soundtrack and ditto sound effects, this one’s unlikely to hook anyone but the most avid arcade puzzle game enthusiasts who still like Sokoban and Pengu just as much as they did when they came out. We do, but we might be the minority here.
Breathedge is out now on PS4
We’ve covered Breathedge before, but at the time it was a PC-only release that had spent a good amount of time in Steam’s Early Access program. Now, after a relatively short wait, it is out on consoles! If you were interested in this sci-fi survival narrative filled with humor before but didn’t have access to a PC, then this is great news. If you weren’t familiar with Breathedge – our original review can of course still be found here.