Next Up Hero is an isometric action RPG developed by Digital Continue and published by Aspyr. The game is currently in a closed beta and set to release later in 2018, and we’ve got our hands on a beta key to give and early access review.
The basic premise of Next Up Hero is that players will cooperate through their deaths to complete challenges. When one player dies, they leave behind an “echo” that can be resurrected by other players and help complete the mission. This sounded very intriguing to me, but unfortunately I don’t think the mechanic is all that interesting. The “echoes” are weak, they don’t interact with enemies and their AI very simple, so in practice they are little more than a tiny (and I mean really minuscule) damage boost.
Additionally the echoes can be used to summon “ancients” which are larger units with special abilities. These are much more useful than the echoes, but also remove any hope of a connection between yourself and the previous heroes of other players. Overall, I don’t think the core conceit of the game really adds to it, and it’s a shame because the concept seems pretty interesting.
Visually, Next Up Heroes looks a lot like a mobile game. The simple visual designs and clear colors are charming, but don’t do much to make it stand out against similar games in my opinion.
The levels you play are also kind of boring. I appreciate being allowed to customize missions, but the levels themselves are all very similar. The procedural generation creates a lot of flat spaces and the only real difference is which enemies are present. Additionally, all objectives boil down to “kill X number of enemies to proceed”. Where Next Up Hero does have some cool ideas is in the enemy design. I especially like the “Bewn” enemy who doesn’t damage the player, but taunts from a distance and runs away. However, enemies are the only real differences between levels.
While Next Up Hero has some novel ideas and a few cool enemy designs, it’s never really as interesting as it gimmick promises. Visually it’s a bit bland and reminds me of a mobile game. On a side note: I recommend using a gamepad if you have one. Next Up Hero controls like a twin-stick shooter and is definitely designed with a controller in mind.