Flat Heroes is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. The action title relies on tense gameplay, fast reflexes, and an old-school approach. Its minimalistic style adds to the game’s charm. The goal is simple: survive. Some levels require players to dodge enemy shapes, while others task you to do the same while repelling projectiles away from your box. Flat Heroes is the perfect example of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Although it looks like a simple game, Flat Heroes is one of the most challenging experiences of the year. That’s actually what I loved the most about the deceptive action title.
There is a myriad of modes in the game. There are two campaigns (the main campaign and a much tougher one called “Heroes”), a survival mode complete with leaderboards, and versus, where you can play against friends. Actually, in the campaign, you can play solo or cooperatively. The campaign modes both contain 10 worlds, each with 15 stages to complete. Every world introduces players to a new threat and occasionally a new gameplay mechanic. At the end of every world, there’s a boss battle that tests your reflexes and abilities you’ve learned so far.
Naturally, Flat Heroes starts off manageable but quickly becomes an excruciating exercise in patience, endurance, and skill. While I wanted to rip out my hair during certain levels, especially one of the later bosses, (I’m pretty sure my entire neighborhood heard my frustration.) the feeling of satisfaction I got when finally completing a level was worth it. Despite the difficulty spike in the latter half of the game, Flat Heroes often impressed me with its tight gameplay, excellent level design, and pulsating soundtrack.
The two campaigns really set the game apart from others on the market. “Heroes” is essentially a different game. It’s “hard” mode for a game that’s already challenging. I made it through only a handful of levels before hitting my breaking point. Only the best players will be able to complete this campaign and hold their heads high. Unfortunately, I am not one of these gamers. It’s tough, but a challenge that I will gradually conquer over time. I love the Heroes campaign because, honestly, the difficulty and desire to finish it keeps me coming back for more. I haven’t stopped thinking about Flat Heroes during the workday. It’s all I want to play.
Gameplay is simple, yet rewarding. Players move their shape, jump, dash, and deploy their shield to destroy incoming projectiles. In every level, all obstacles will try to kill you on site. These could be homing missiles, bullets that spawn from the sides of the arena, rockets that will explode on impact, laser grids, and much more. Survival can often be difficult, but the game is never unfair. Boss battles are the only instance of combat in the game. These levels are welcome deviations from the typical formula found in the rest of the campaign. Each boss offered a different type of challenge that often kept me on my toes.
The visuals are vibrant and full of colors. Each world has its own unique color scheme that set it apart from the others. You’re not going to find jaw-dropping graphics in Flat Heroes, but the visuals are so appealing that you can’t help but look at the game when it’s on the screen. The audio is infectious, with beats that almost want to make you lose so you can hear the soundtrack over and over again.
There isn’t much that I disliked about Flat Heroes. It’s a stellar game with fantastic mechanics and an excellent presentation. My only criticism is that during certain levels, I noticed some lag. This is unfortunate in a game like Flat Heroes, which requires precise movement and little room for error. Dying because of lag was infuriating because those were the only moments when it wasn’t my fault. It sucked losing during difficult end-game levels because of a technical error.
Flat Heroes is a game that took me by surprise. Similar to the fantastic Just Shapes and Beats, Flat Heroes takes a minimalistic approach and capitalizes on providing a rewarding experience through responsive gameplay, challenging levels, and a wonderful experience that can easily be played on the go in short bursts. Flat Heroes is a game that hasn’t left my head over the past week. When I’m home, in the car, or at work, I just want to keep playing. I want to climb the leaderboards and finally conquer the incredibly difficult Heroes campaign. This is the quintessential video game for the Switch. People who travel often should buy Flat Heroes. If you like challenging gameplay, buy Flat Heroes. If playing with friends is your ideal way to experience a game, buy Flat Heroes. What I’m trying to say is that Flat Heroes is a game that all Switch owners should have in their library. It’s a fantastic experience that I will be playing for months to come.
A review code was provided by the publisher.
Andrew Gonzalez is the Co-Editor-In-Chief of Xbox Enthusiast. When not writing about Xbox, he’s usually reading comics, talking about Taylor Swift, and dreaming of the perfect Jet Force Gemini Reboot. You can follow him on Twitter. @AJGVulture89