Review: Zheros (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
Title: Zheros
Format: PSN (4.6 GB)
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Rimlight Studios
Developer: Rimlight Studios
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €11.99 (EU), £9.49 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

There was a time when 3D beat’em ups littered the arcades, home computer, and console scene, with some notable favorites of mine being Golden Axe, Battletoads, Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, and Final Fight.

Some other greats came along since then but as of late, the genre has been lacking, to say the least. Well, now we have a new contender called Zheros on the PlayStation 4 and I cannot wait to dive back into this excellent style of game that is too rare nowadays.

Gameplay:
You will play as the agile Captain Dorian or her dim-witted colleague, Mike. They are the Zheros squad, intergalactic agents who protect the galaxies from crime. In this instance, a stereotypical nemesis called Dr. Vendetta.

After a short cinematic opening you are led to believe you will be fighting hordes of the evil doctor’s army, instead you face-off against waves of around five enemies as you trudge along a bland level. The frequency of enemy encounters slowly increases and you even get to fight a few different types but it’s a long slog to get there.

You might have guessed that I am not very impressed with the game and you would be right. I can just about put up with the banal level design and uninspired enemies but I really dislike the unfair hit animations that hold the character in place long enough for another to get a hit.

There are also long electrified sections and laser grids that require more luck than skill to get through and poor enemy A.I. that just tries to swarm the player making it difficult to see what’s going on.

Thankfully, Mike has his flurry of punches and Dorian has her swarm of kicks to tear through the enemy waves. Your character has strong and light attacks that you can easily combo together to perform some fancy and powerful attacks.

… practically no reason to replay any parts of the game …
You also have a gun and shield, the latter of which becomes quite important because if you time it right, you can deflect a shot back to the enemy and usually take it out in one hit.

You can upgrade the abilities of your characters and unlock new combos which turn out to be the best part of the gameplay. Sadly, the muddled mess of attackers and clumsy level design makes it a chore to play.

There is just one collectible to scavenge in each level and so practically no reason to replay any parts of the game unless you want to try to get a better score. You might be surprised to know that this game does not have a Platinum Trophy, which would have been a nice reward for anyone willing to drag themselves through the entire thing.

I was fortunate to get the DLC along with this review, titled The Forgotten Land. Priced at $4.99 (US), €5.99 (EU), and £4.99 (UK), it comes with a new playable character, eight new levels, a new vehicle, and more moves. Unfortunately, I was unable to get past the first minutes due to a strange pink shape that photobombs the cutscene, then slowly encroaches on the screen during the game to the point of making it unplayable.

It’s a shame because what I saw of the first area held some promise of wiping away the banalities of the main game. At least you can use the new character in the main game too, so it isn’t all bad. I’m just surprised something as apparent as this got past Quality Assurance.

I also had a few issues with the main game. On several occasions I was left staring at the loading screen for ages until I realized it had crashed. It was an easy thing to miss as the loading takes upward of forty seconds when the game is running normally.

… the level design and length is bland and drawn out to the point of frustration …
Visuals:
In some respects, Zheros is a nice looking game, with robots exploding into many pieces and fast combos that bear a striking resemblance to a Street Fighter game. A soft focus is used in the backgrounds, which looks quite good if a little repetitive.

The character animations are okay until you are caught by a laser or flung into an invisible wall at which point they annoy. I dislike the stereotypical look of both main characters, especially Mike the ape-like fool as he is sat mining for nose gold and flicking it away in the character select screen.

Audio:
Music is okay but probably not to everyone’s tastes. My kids did not like the tunes that’s for sure. Explosions and melee hits are satisfying enough but nothing to write home about. No voice actors have been used in the making of this game unless you count the occasional grunt and groan.

Online/Multiplayer:
There is no online component but you can join up with a friend for some local co-op. However, it was a struggle to get any of my family to play with me. After tense negotiations, I managed to get the wife to grab the other controller and play for a bit.

For anyone struggling with the game, it might be a good idea to get someone else to play with you as the number of enemies stays the same and the difficulty remains unchanged too. If one player falls back too far then they are teleported to the other, handy if one of you wants to avoid a perilous jump.

Conclusion:
Zheros has some good ideas and the combos are fun, especially later on in the game when you fight a decent amount of enemies. Sadly, the level design and length is bland and drawn out to the point of frustration. The bugs and glitches do not help matters either. There’s just not much here to recommend.

Score:
5.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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