Restless Hero is the third title and second Switch release from studio Restless Corp Game Studio. It’s a 2D pixel art linear platformer played over 30 levels where your aim is to find your wife who is being hunted down on charges of witchcraft.
The main criticism of the game is that the difficulty curve comes way too late. In fact, you can pretty much just walk past enemies for the first 9 levels of Restless Hero. While not a positive by any means, this does allow me to appreciate game mechanics later in the game where it gets a little harder. Firstly, chests, drawbridges, as well as the final door on each level take 3 seconds to open. This creates some fun scenarios where you have to avoid incoming projectiles while waiting for them to open. The projectiles are varied, although as is the theme of this review, not original. You’ll be avoiding everything from boomerangs to bats and lots more.
Another thing that made the game somewhat harder in the later levels was their height. I would often find myself falling distressingly large distances similar to last year’s Jump King. The height also works against you in the opposite direction; the developers often leave annoying traps at the bottom of long jumps which I fell prey to multiple times.
There are a few more small things that help increase the games difficulty after level 10 such as having to time your jumps to climb up cliffs where cannons are shooting down at you. Additionally, the game uses hanging chains as decoration and on the end of some of the chains there is a spiked ball which is quite easy to miss. Finally, it obviously couldn’t be a platformer without platforms that break once stood on for too long.
I think the negatives of the late increase in difficulty are best highlighted by the words of this frustrated steam reviewer. Imagine how many players they lost out of boredom in the first 10 levels. That being said, I’m glad I played on.
A quick fix for this would be to remove all checkpoints in the first 10 levels as there are way too many. That being said, I didn’t die at all in the first 10 levels so the Restless Hero developers would have to put in a bit of a shift increasing the number of enemies and obstacles. A solution may be to add occasional tutorial levels where they introduce you to new features. It feels like the first 10 levels are just a really boring tutorial levels right now where they introduce you to everything very slowly.
The shop is totally useless as it sells the same products at the same prices as the shop in between levels. This is part of a bigger problem with this game. The power-ups sold in shops seemingly do nothing, the currency is therefore useless, and the chests only drop currency. Finding and opening chests seems to be one of the only reasons to explore the levels other than getting lost. A great way to fix this and make the most of the levels would be collectibles. (Tip: It makes you get a power-up at the beginning of each level, so I just got invulnerability every time as it’s the cheapest.)
There are actually collectibles, but that’s not made clear. I just thought I was picking up story objects, but when I completed the game I found the ‘items’ section in the menu. I only found 5 of them: Rosa’s Ring, Delation Note, Opened mysterious diary, spell book and strange stone. To fix this, the developers needs to add a short tutorial screen to make it clear that there is in fact collectibles, or maybe include a collectibles section in the pause menu to track what you have found.
Although a little overused, the shopkeeper + guide combo that is utilized in Restless Hero is nice just because of how familiar it is, and I really like how they both fit into the game’s average but enough for this kind of game story. The game is definitely worth playing through, however, just for the final cutscene and decision you have to make.
Even the most ardent of critics over on Steam enjoyed the game’s soundtrack, which is great and varied enough for me to keep the sound on during my playthrough. I especially enjoyed the suspenseful menu music.
There are a few smaller things that need fixing. Firstly, the drawbridge continues to open even when you’re not holding down the lever and then stops opening it when you’re a few meters away from it. I feel like in order to make the game harder you should have to stand directly on it and and then it goes back up as soon as you let go. Secondly there are some occasional small graphical glitches. For example, an axe that was thrown at me went behind a door and out again on level 17 or maybe 18. I think the problem may actually only be with doors so it shouldn’t be too hard for the developers to fix.
Finally, another glitch is that you can survive jumping into the usually poisonous water as long as you land on the side of the pit even while under water. I also think that instead of insta-killing you, water should take a heart every half second you are in it similar to drowning in Minecraft.
Another thing the developers deserve credit for is the level design. I don’t know whether this is intentional, but I rarely got lost and I could always tell which passage was the right direction.
The developers also clearly have a sense of humour, as they use things like ducks to guide you around and have a few fun Easter eggs such as one from FNAF on level 10 and a purple teddy bear one I didn’t quite understand. It would be great, and presumably quite easy, to make these into collectibles. These kind of things really show their attention to detail, but I think this is also shown in the level design; I found quite a few hidden rooms which were fun to find.
So, What needs improving (with brevity):
- Difficulty curve needs to start sooner
- More things to spend with currency
It’s certainly not a bad game by any means, but other developers have done the same things better (although on a far bigger budget). Ihor, Andriy, and Nikita have done an incredible thing in just releasing a game, god knows that getting something done and out there is itself a massive challenge. If you have some cash left over from an eShop voucher or to support the fledgling developers, then at £5.29 / $6.99, this might be a title you want to pick up for ~2.5 hours of fun. In other cases though, you can probably find something better to play for the money.
Good Level Design
Very Slow to Start
No Reason to explore levels