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I sadly had to wait on playing Heart&Slash [Official Site, Steam] for a while as it was broken, but the developers finally fixed it. I took a look at what it's like to play as Heart the robot in this action game with roguelike elements.

I will admit that I ended up skipping the tutorial, as I felt like the dialogue just waffled on with nonsense and all I wanted to do was get a grip of the controls. So I ended up just going on into the main game. Looking over the forum posts, it looks like plenty of people agree with me and want to be able to easily skip cutscenes and text, which you can't really do.

You play as Heart, the goodie robot who has the ability to double-jump and dodge about the place. You have no idea what's going on, but something bad is going down and you need to escape this factory.

On first thoughts, the game is really quite good to look at, I love the art! It's all rather vibrant and has a good coherent style to it. The music goes along with the art style rather well too, as it's all incredibly cheery which I imagine is to help with the frustration of dying and starting over again. They even have loading screen tips, one of which is telling you to take a break if you're getting frustrated–helpful.

The game doesn't allow you to save your progress. It does claim it has a "persistent progression system" which I don't entirely understand. Everything you get is random, so it's not actually storing anything. You can track things you've found in the unlocks menu, but again, they are all found at random and you don't get to pick and choose since again, what you get during a run is random.

The upgrade system is fun, as you combat and destroy the different robots you collect bolts. Gain enough and they turn into a package that can be exchanged for an upgrade. It's nice as it makes combat rewarding to the point of destroying every naughty robot you come across.

On top of the upgrades you also have a lot of different weapons and armour to find, so there's quite a bit of variety for gameplay style and replay value thanks to this. You can recycle equipment for health, so it's always a toss-up between health and equipment which can make things interesting.

The combat is really fun, especially as enemies can come from anywhere. They might pop out of a wall, the floor or you might do what I did and walk into this:
image
Combat becomes quite manic, but amusing as enemies are able to hit each other which you can use to your advantage.

What's weird is the secondary weapon system. You can equip three items, but only one is your main weapon. The others can only be accessed by holding down their buttons and then attacking with it held down. I would have liked to have been able to just switch between them easily, but I suppose it can create some interesting combinations in your attacks.

It's a very hardcore game due to permadeath and no saving, so it won't be everyone's flavour. I think it's pretty damn cool, but saving is always an issue for me, as always. I like to be able to finish a run of something like this without having to feel like I need to do it in one go.

Issues
The game seems to lock-up if I alt+tab while the game is running. It's fine on the menu, but if you're actually in-game it seems to just freeze it. For me this was a constant annoyance while testing. Going to check a quick message—fuck, frozen again. This makes it a game I cannot livestream due to this.

Even with the above issue, I did enjoy it quite a bit. Would enjoy it a whole lot more if that wasn't an issue though. Since you can't save a run, I often take a break a minimize a game to do something else for a bit.

About the game
Heart&Slash is a 3D brawler that is set in a world where machines are all that remains from the Human civilization.

You play as Heart, an innocent robot fighting to escape the grip of the evil and all seeing machine QuAsSy (Quality Assurance Systems).

But make no mistake Heart&Slash is a hard game. Every death is permanent and means a new randomly generated level for you to start over with a different set of weapons and items you can use, new enemies to fight and secrets to explore.

Heart&Slash is an indie game developed by a small but passionate team. We have a tiny budget but big hearts, and we are giving it all to make this game (our first) the best we can. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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2 comments

Chromaticdeth19XX 23 September 2016 at 3:20 pm UTC
I had a really difficult time understanding the "Persistent Progress System" as well, but after several hours and defeating higher level enemies it starts to make more sense. You always start at the beginning of the first stage, what changes as you level up is the first load out of weapons you receive when you enter the main control room. ( I honestly don't know what that room is supposed to be; it looks like an old NASA mission control center.) Anyway, along the first two hours I played I was always given some crappy wooden plank and rubber armor as my beginning load out, but as you start to meet harder enemies the starting weapons and armor are much more powerful. Plus, your upgrade boxes usually increase in quantity as well which means that you can in a way get back into the higher level areas quite quickly given that your equipment and stats are much improved right out of the gate. It kinda sucks that this process isn't automated but it does put more responsibility on the player to manage their equipment and stats in a manner that let's them more effectively deal with the enemies that may have killed them earlier.

The game reminds me a lot of the early Mega Man games in that you have to die countless times to figure out all the quirks of the enemies throughout the levels. I too experienced a lot of crashes, but most of mine resulted in the window closing and just having to reboot the game through Steam instead of having to reboot Ubuntu. If you get to the boss of the first level, which I think is Slash, remember to take to the air, do not battle him on the ground unless you have a shield in one of your weapon slots. Tapping the Y button while in the air will do a hard drop on an enemy on the ground and holding the Y button will have a cool, airborne bomb effect with some weapons. The Rocket Hammer has been my favorite weapon so far.
TiZ 25 September 2016 at 3:04 pm UTC
Hi, I played in early access.

Persistent progress refers to two things: the possible weapons you can receive in each run, and buffs that you will start out with. New weapons and new buffs are unlocked primarily by defeating a certain number of a certain enemy. When you defeat a boss, you also unlock the body set for that boss. When I say buffs, I mean increased attack power as well as resistances for all three elements that you get pretty much for good. They show up as green icons at the top left, under your health and weapons.

You can in fact change the weapon switching scheme. I'm disappointed in you for not doing your due diligence before writing on it; you would have found it just by looking at the configuration options. It's in the input settings. When you change to the alt switching scheme, you'll need to set a button for your primary weapon. Then you just press to switch.


Last edited by TiZ on 25 September 2016 at 3:05 pm UTC
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