Teaming up to take down evil, the way its meant to be
Though the game is largely co-op focused and seems to be a great pick-up and play with friends, there are a couple of points that leave me feeling a bit uneasy. The game is currently going through a closed beta so there are some bugs here and there to work out, but it’s not those that have me concerned. While the focus on co-op is great and it’s (relatively) easy to add friends to a friends list and join games, once you’re there, you may find yourself wondering why after a few stages. Optional goals tend to repeat and though the backdrops will change every couple of levels, it’s hard to escape a feeling of “sameness.”
Sure, you may run the same two or three dungeons in games like Diablo 3 or Dragon’s Crown over and over again, but you’re doing so in order to get something (better loot). In Second Chance Heroes, by the time you work your way through our third or fourth level, you’ve unlocked a few relics that can help boost your hero when needed, and even unlocked a couple more characters to add to your roster, but continued progression leaves a question as to why. Maybe just trying to get the levels beat in a certain amount of time, or earning gold to level up your characters will be enough of a reason. It’s a bit too early to tell from just the beta, and hopefully later levels prove to vary things just enough to give people more to shoot for.
The other point that leaves me feeling a bit ill at ease are the characters themselves. You’re provided with two ranged (Elizabeth and Napoleon) and two melee (Abraham and Joan) characters at the start. Initially, I chose Abraham and Elizabeth, but was hard pressed to find a reason to switch over to Elizabeth much at all. Melee just felt better and seemed to do more damage, though I could tell that damage output was equal across them. This wasn’t just confined to melee vs range, either. Comparing melee to melee, or ranged to ranged, provided similar results.
Pages like this greet you at the start of every level and are very reminiscent of the "Bronze Age" of comics
Abraham’s chainsaw provides a fairly constant source of damage and feels better than Joan’s swinging sword. Likewise, Elizabeth’s chain gun felt like a better choice when compared to Napoleon’s one shot pistol/cannon. While the damage output is pretty much the same for all characters, the key difference is in where their attacks are focused. Abraham and Elizabeth are both intended to focus on a single enemy while Joan’s and Napoleon’s attacks can hit several, but it all gets lost a bit when faced with the constant waves of enemies. When the next character (Tesla) was unlocked after the second stage, he (fortunately) felt like more of a game changer, but also became my default character of choice. I hardly reverted back to melee. There’s some tweaking that needs to be done to the characters to make them all just as exciting to play as the others as it seems likely that people will quickly home in on the best dynamic duo to steamroll through the game and move on.
As Second Chance Heroes stands now, it’s got a lot of the right pieces in place for a good co-op game. It’s easily approachable, it’s quick to pick up and play, it’s better playing with friends than going solo, the character classes work better when diversified, and unlocking new characters provides some incentive to keep playing. There’s just that last bit of polishing that needs to be done to really get the title up to a level where you’ll spend more than just one weekend playing it. Fortunately, there’s time left to do so and Rocket City Studios certainly seems like they’re open to community feedback to get things right.