Has Been Heroes by Frozenbyte is out now in the Nintendo Switch eShop. A quick cursory glance at the community surrounding the game shows people are rating it unfavorably due to its difficulty.
I’m not going to mince words with you here, this game is difficult.
Has Been Heroes has a lot of systems that work together and need to be managed to achieve victory. Another unfortunate aspect of the game is that most new items are locked behind runs, which require a death for Soul Orbs to unlock them.
While playing the game and composing thoughts for our review, I’ve discovered a handful of tips that will help you “git gud” at the game. Has Been Heroes can be a frustrating game if you don’t know how to avoid common mistakes.
1. Use the pause button liberally to get your bearings.
Has Been Heroes is a rogue-lite game with an unlock system similar to The Binding of Isaac. As you slay monsters and unlock soul orbs, you’ll earn 2 additional unlocks after every game. The soul orb cost for these items steadily increases as you complete runs. Once unlocked, these items appear at spell vendors, merchants, chests, and spell gamblers to help you on your way.
The L button serves as the game’s pause to give you breathing room and time to choose your spells. We recommend using this button liberally at the start as you learn the game. Setting up your lanes to do the most damage with your heroes takes practice, so use this to your advantage to give you time to prep the most damaging strike.
2. Don’t use abilities as they come off the timer, plan them.
Because heroes have a sort of turn-based movement style, it can be tempting to send them out immediately once their attack cool down is up. However, that’s the best way to get a game over very quickly. You want to use your heroes in conjunction with one another to set up powerful combos.
For example, the mage has a two hit combo that will deplete 2 stam blocks and stun, so following that up with a massive strike from the warrior is an excellent set up. Setting up your stuns is the best way to take down advanced enemies like bosses and those with lots of stamina.
3. Think about how abilities will manage the lanes.
As I’ve played through the game, I’ve unlocked some interesting spells that actually make you think about the current lane configuration. One example is a water bomb that is summoned at your end of the lane and then wanders into the enemies. You have to rush out and hit the bomb to explode it, so you have to time it right to make sure your heroes hit the bomb for maximum damage.
There are tons of clever spells that offer different effects in the game. These spells and effects can be synergized for amazingly devastating runs. Spells have reactions when hitting an enemy already afflicted by an element. For example, fire on frozen enemies does double damage but does not inflict burn.
The only downside of this system is that when you encounter an item or spell for the first time, it’s ??? until you pick it up. This means early runs can be frustrating unless you use the game’s wiki to identify items before you pick them up.
4. Focus on combos to remove stam blocks and set up max damage.
I briefly touched on this before, but it’s worth mentioning in its own point. Your lanes are set up to do maximum damage when a hero can rush forward and then be replaced with another hero that will require the other hero to rush through a line of enemies.
The game was a lot harder in the pre-release patch because this return damage didn’t do as much, but I think Frozenbyte has tweaked this to be a little bit more useful with the latest patch.
5. Use Soul Orbs during boss fights to use spells.
When you have a total of 20 Soul Orbs in your possession, you can choose to use those orbs to instantly activate a spell instead of waiting for the cool down.
This can be invaluable in boss fights like the Skeleton Brawler, which spawns tons of baby skeletons that can really hamper your lane progress during the fight.
Soul Orbs are the currency you give to Saint Peter to get new unlocks, so it’s a gamble if you want to spend them in this way. If you need a quick spell to win a close match its better to burn 20 Soul Orbs and win than lose them all and have to start over.
6. Plan your route through the floor to maximize gains.
Has Been Heroes borrows a page out of the Darkest Dungeon book in how the map mechanic works. You’re presented with a maze with several nodules that you can explore. You can’t see what is in each point until you’re at an adjacent point or you get a map reveal spell or effect.
It is worth plotting your path through the dungeon so you don’t cross over a path you’ve already been down. Doing so uses up a candle, which is a limited resource and prevents you from backtracking too much over paths you’ve already taken.
7. Make sure you’re giving each hero the best items for their stats.
Certain items come with both negative and positive effects and have better benefits to different heroes. Your rogue and mage heroes only come with one stamina block to start, so any extra stamina items you get serve them best.
Items that increase melee strength can really benefit the warrior and items that increase critical and melee damage are a huge boon to the rogue. You can change who picks up an item at the merchant or a chest the same way you change lanes to fight monsters.
Hopefully, these tips give you a fighting chance in playing Has Been Heroes. The game has a difficult learning curve for even experienced rogue-lite players. I’ve played over thirty games in the time I’ve had it and I’ve yet to win one. In fact, I’ve yet to beat the second boss.
However, I find myself treating it like a classic ‘coffee break’ roguelike where I play ‘just one more game’ so I can see how many more items I can unlock.
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