15 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 12.1 hrs on record
Posted: Jul 5 @ 8:22am
Product received for free

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Hero Express is a simple-to-learn, but difficult to master, arcade-style 2D side-scrolling driving survival game that features 11 different tracks with 11 different vehicles. I had personally played a mobile game with a similar feel a few years ago, and I am happy to have the same type of gameplay on PC with nicely worked pixel graphics and a difficulty curve that allows the most casual players to enjoy the game, while still presenting a challenge to those who consider themselves fairly good at arcade-style games.

While most arcade-style games of the survival nature rely on fast-reflexes and quick thinking, there is always a difficulty and challenge present. Similarly, there is a certain degree of difficulty that is preserved as the player takes on the different tracks with the progressive upgrades of the individually associated vehicles. You will run across some playing just so that you can accumulate enough credits in order to make the upgrades that you want on those vehicles, no doubt. However, the upgrades allow your cars to go a bit farther along the track, but not necessarily taking away much of the difficulty. This is seen in the fun design of the individual tracks that despite enough upgrades to complete each course, there are still challenges along the way that need to be considered for successful navigation of each track. The preservation of difficulty with these permanent upgrades is very welcome. And if you haven't had enough after completing each track on normal mode, you are then allowed to tackle it on hard difficulty. So be prepared to fail time and again before enjoying success in this game.

Along that same vein, I do feel that a game that has this "just one more" feel after each failure should not punish the player for playing well but not having enough upgrades on the vehicle. After all, even playing perfectly, or seemingly perfectly, does not allow the player to navigate the entire track without any upgrades. There seems to be a series of bottlenecks that are in the level design itself that will definitely trap the player until enough credits can be obtained and the upgrades purchased. Then again, playing poorly with a completely upgraded vehicle does not automatically guaranteed a win. You are definitely expected to make it farther with more upgrades, but those upgrades could put you into some dicey situations should you happen to use that extra engine power or traction that you hadn't considered before.

The game will take some time to get through, the developers mentioned likely 5-6 hours to get through the 11 tracks initially on normal mode, and then a similar time frame to play through on hard. Fortunately you get to keep your upgraded vehicles for the hard modes. For me, it's been a little bit longer, but probably because I am more reliant on upgrades and luck in certain runs to get through instead of skills. I haven't gotten through all of the tracks on normal mode yet, even though I have spent a little over 12 hour so far playing. But that doesn't mean you can't do it in a shorter amount of time. I have been trying to play on hard for some tracks as well. It's nice that the entire map is open from the beginning, you can pick and choose whichever you wish to take on without needing to unlock anything.

To see some not skillful gameplay from my first look, the video can be found here:
https://youtu.be/Q3f7fTY9aQU

Gameplay
Keep your car running with enough fuel and try your best to get to the finish. The fuel will steadily consume even without you pressing the gas. Do some front or back flips or stay in the air longer for additional points/credits, but additional air time might cut away from your engine time that may be needed to get to the next fuel pickup. You can use the left stick/d-pad to stabilize the car midair, which is absolutely critical. And the run ends whenever you run out of fuel, fall into a pit, fall into water, or flip the car. It's a really simple set of rules and is very casual to get into, but to improve to the point of beating each level, you either need some skills or at least a few cases of good luck.

All of the levels are open from the beginning, and they each have their own vehicle, with track quirks and unique gameplay. So even if you have to upgrade and work your way up in each track, they feel fresh independent of one another.

Controls
Controls well with the gamepad. I did not try any other controls.

Graphics
Very nicely done 2D pixel artwork.

Music
So the music can get really repetitive after a while, and you don't need it at all. I initially had the music on and eventually had to turn it off and listen to something of my own.

Audience
Appeals to a fairly wide range of audiences. Not for those who really hate to have a time limit though, because the fuel is constantly running down.

Pricing
Launched today with base price of $4.99 USD. Definitely a reasonable price for this game.

Conclusion
Hero Express takes a mechanic that was originally found on an mobile game and transformed into a full game here on PC with 11 unique levels and at least a few hours of fun if all you are trying to do is to beat each level once. The game maintains a certain amount of challenge despite having significant upgrades purchased, so you will definitely find yourself getting better over time, but still needing a bit of luck/skillful maneuvering to succeed. It's fun and reasonbly priced. There's a bit of a grind at times, but nothing that's too dramatic. It's nice the entire worldmap is open from the beginning, allowing the player to play the tracks available in any order desired. Check it out if you think it's for you!

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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3 Comments
boyflea Jul 5 @ 1:27pm 
nice review, thanks.
YQMaoski Jul 5 @ 9:19am 
Sounds good. :D It's fun, but during the summer sale right now, there are certainly a lot of other ways to spend your funds for more exciting games. :golden:
janner66 Jul 5 @ 9:04am 
Looks interesting. I'll wait for a sale though. Thanks.