Genre: Turn Based RPG/Strategy
Release Date: November 28, 2013
Price: $1.99 USD
Remember those levels in video games where the game would decide “Nah. I’m just gonna keep moving. Better keep up!” and just keep scrolling to the right? One Way Heroics (One Way Brave in Japan) takes that concept and turns it into a turn-based RPG. One Way Heroics borrows elements from roguelikes, platformers, and JRPGs to become the world’s first procedurally generated turn-based forced scrolling RPG. The game name comes from the fact that everything that goes off the left side of the screen dies, including the player character, forcing you to maintain one direction of net movement. While this is the defining feature of the game, it doesn’t mean it’s a one trick pony, either.
On starting a character, you’re presented with 3 options: name, class, and perks. A new player will have 2 choices in the class category and 7 perks. More of each can be unlocked through various methods within the game. Each class approaches the game with a vastly different outlook, ranging from the Swordmaster class’ berserker playstyle to the Knight’s defensive methodology, to the Adventurer’s philosophy of greed and fleet-footedness. Perks allow for some customization within each class. With up to 4 available slots for perks, players can choose to increase a given stat or choose a more unique perk such as “Pro-Wrestler”, which increases unarmed damage. No perk affects a character aesthetically, but certain combinations can result in titles. For example, I created a Knight character and put all 4 perks into Pro-wrestler. After character creation, I was no longer Knight Hazmat, but Pugilist Hazmat.
The two default classes are the Swordmaster and the Knight, with 5 more that can be unlocked. The first in the list is the Swordmaster. With the Berserk skill, which deals double damage but leaves the character with 1/3 of its max hp after 5 turns, and twice the combo rate (meaning the swordmaster is twice as likely to hit an enemy multiple times with one attack) as any other class, the Swordmaster is a high offense, no-nonsense class. Second, is the Knight. The knight is the highest defense class, receiving both twice as much defense from shields and access to the Great Wall skill, which further increases defense. The other classes include Bard, Pirate, Adventurer, Hunter, and the Force User.
Once you get in the game, you’re greeted by a king who tells you what little backstory the game has, and then vanishes. Basically, a demon lord has appeared along with the black mist that is devouring the world (you know, that left side of the screen that keeps chasing you) and you’re going to go try to stop him. Along the way you’ll pick up gear, gain followers (provided you have enough charisma), destroy walls, and fight monsters…. and then you’ll probably die. Both frequently, and permanently. The game will even grade your performance with each death based on 4 categories. Level obtained, enemies defeated, distance traveled, and amount of treasure picked up. This grade is then turned into a number value called “Hero Points”. Hero Points are used to unlock new classes, perks, and slots for the dimensional vaults.
Those dimensional vault slots are pretty handy, too. Get a particularly fancy hat, or armor that reduces damage taken to 85%, but then died? Just give throw it into your dimensional vault to give it to your next character or save it for future use! The dimensional vaults add a lot of replay value to the game, giving it the same loot-hunt feel that Diablo 2 and Borderlands both employ while staying true to the game’s weird mixture of JRPG and Roguelike.
Each character you make has the opportunity to revisit the previous two maps you’ve played in, along with the ability to choose from 3 online daily challenges, a random online map, a random offline map, and manual entry through seed generation. The daily challenges range from “Enemies don’t give exp, but give better items!” to “X NPC is in the world and recruitable! Monsters are also tougher!” to “Items will not drop! Silver is in abundance!” Don’t get excited about the “online” maps though. It doesn’t mean you’ll be playing alongside other characters, it simply means that your progress is shown in the top left alongside other players in the same world. While some will find that a bit disappointing, it does show what kills someone, so other players know what to expect when they reach a certain point of the world. Those dead characters can then show up as NPC ghosts in other players’ maps, telling the player to avenge them and handing off a level worth of experience and an item or two.
One Way Heroics was developed by Smoking Wolf within the Wolf RPG Editor, an RPG making program which was created by Smoking Wolf himself. As such, the menus are fairly basic looking, landscapes are sets of repeating tiles, and character sprites are all fairly small but recognizable. Somehow, it all works for the game though. It all fits together to make the game feel quaint rather than dull or bland. Sprites are, compared to the map, tiny. While detailed, it can be easy to confuse a few enemies, such as the imp or zombie, simply due to color and how small the sprites are at the default resolution.