App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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2D brawlers are a hard kind of game to get just right. Perhaps it’s because the genre rose to prominence in an age of quarter-hungry arcade cabinets, or maybe it’s just that keeping the gameplay approachable while maintaining an appropriate and fair amount of challenge is really difficult. In the case of I Am The Hero, players are treated to a super stylized brawler with some interesting mechanics that add some depth, but it ultimately falls into a lot of the same pitfalls of the genre at large while also sporting some significant technical issues.
There isn’t much story to I Am The Hero. You take control of a nameless Hero who’s latest conquest is trying to take down an evil corporation, and the way you have to do that is by fighting anyone who stands in your way. It’s a flat, but pretty classic, exposition for a brawler that gives just enough meaning to your actions before throwing you into the meat of the game, which largely consists of you beating people up.
The fighting in I Am The Hero feels a lot like a hybrid between a fighting game and a traditional brawler. Your character can combo basic punch and kick attacks together, but can also take advantage of launchers to perform air combos, build up a super meter to unleash devastating attacks, and more. All of this is relatively easy to execute and manage thanks to a smart, gesture-based virtual button system, though it’s even better to control with an MFi controller.
I Am The Hero features three different modes: Story Mode, a wave-based mode called Workshop-Fight, and a Challenge Mode, which features really difficult enemies. In any of these game types though, the basic action is all the same. You control your hero on a flat 2D plane while you try to punch and kick enemies to death before they try to do the same to you.
While it certainly helps that all of the fighting you do in I Am The Hero is depicted as a nostalgia-ridden and neon-soaked adventure filled with gorgeous pixel art, the game suffers from feeling a little clumsy and unfair. Chaining combos feels weird because of the game’s strange animations, and doing so yields few rewards because of the game's difficulty scaling. The further into I Am The Hero you get, the less enemies are phased by your attacks, so they can just interrupt your combos at will to deal damage to you. It’s a cheap way that brawlers of yore made their games harder, and it still feels cheap here.
Hero to zero
In some ways, it’s hard to get too mad about I Am The Hero’s fighting system since it’s mostly on par--if not more advanced--than most other brawlers out there. What’s inexcusable though is the game’s technical issues, which can make playing it an absolute pain.
I Am The Hero suffers from stability issues, which can make the action slow down and even cause the game to crash. Since release, patches have been released to address these problems, but they still persist, particularly in the game’s Workshop-Fight Mode. In the event of a crash, I Am The Hero is also bad about saving your progress, which can result in you losing a lot of progress.
The bottom line
I Am The Hero is not your typical brawler, but it has typical brawler problems. On top of this, the game suffers from periodic slowdowns and crashes, which are completely infuriating. Unless all of its technical issues get worked out, I would avoid I Am The Hero, and—even when it does run a little better—its visual flair would be the only thing to write home about.