Years ago, top down role-playing games dominated the market and presented some of the most memorable gaming experiences in the industry. Unfortunately, those experiences are a thing of the past. 3D Dot Game Heroes developed by From Software and published by Atlus is an attempt to modernize the genre. Does it succeed? Or remain a thing of the past?
The story starts off in the 2D kingdom of Dotnia. The king believing that 2D graphics are no longer appealing, orders the kingdom to convert to 3D. Soon after the change, a dark evil is plaguing the land, and only a hero can defeat it by saving six sages scattered through-out Dotnia. As a descendent of the greatest hero in Dotnia history, it’s your job to vanquish the evil forces. The story clings to the typical hero archetype and refuses to stray from that formula. To a certain degree this decision is a minor disappointment. Given how empty the genre and market is, it would have been nice to see a few more risks. As it is, players familiar with this type of narrative will be treated to a straight-forward story, even if it’s common and predictable. It’s also worth mentioning that 3D Dot Game Heroes features a robust character creator. This system allows you to build the character of your dreams from scratch. If building a character isn’t your thing, you can select from a wide variety of pre-made heroes.
Following in-line with the games of it’s time, 3D Dot Game Heroes provides incredibly simplistic and accessible controls. Players control their hero by using the left analog stick. The player swings their sword by pressing the X button and depending on how you use the left analog stick; you can curve your attacks in a circular shape. This allows for an effective kill field, and offers a bit more control then you typically see. To add some more depth into the combat, specific items, such as bows and boomerangs can be mapped to the O button. Each item can function in helping solve puzzles located in the many dungeons in Dotnia. As you save each sage and conquer the dungeon associated with them, the player is rewarded with magic. Magic offers yet another layer of depth to the game-play and also functions as an important element to the puzzles. While the puzzles won’t provide a mental challenge; they help prevent the game from becoming stale.
On the presentation side, 3D Dot Game Heroes features crisp 3D graphics with a particular emphasis on visual effects. Watching an enemy explode into a colorful shower of pixels is both satisfying and pleasing to watch. The water in particular stands out the most. The soundtrack is also well done; although towards the end it can become repetitive. 3D Dot Game Heroes also runs very well. Throughout the course of my play-through I only experienced one technical issue. The frame-rate did take a severe dive when enemies filled the screen, this was certainly unusual for a game that otherwise runs very well.
3D Dot Game Heroes won’t win any awards for originality, but that’s not its goal. It’s a retro love letter to those wishing for the days of old. It’s an unapologetic tribute to the Zelda series. It’s a classic experience, upgraded to withstand the sucrity of this generation. It is one hell of a game and with a $40 price point, there’s no reason not to purchase it. Stay retro my friends.