Pixel Heroes: Byte and Magic Review
While I loved the idea of Pixel Heroes: Byte and Magic, I had a tough time playing it on Xbox One. Good ideas can’t stand on their own, and this is unfortunately another case of a poor translation from mobile or PC to console.
Pixel Heroes is a very classic roguelike RPG. You start by choosing up to three heroes from the local tavern, spend some of your starting gold at one of the few shops around town, find a quest, and head out. All travelling is done by watching your heroes head east or west along the map, running into random encounters on the way to a dungeon. All of this doesn’t sound so bad, and inherently, it’s not.
A lot of the random encounters are fun, and you’ll see some great cameos or Easter eggs. Once you do make it to a dungeon, it goes into a simplified encounter system with the final room containing the boss fight. Each room leading up to said boss will contain a fight or a random encounter, sometimes containing skill checks such as picking a locked chest or moving a heavy boulder. These skill checks are great, and definitely encourage having a diverse party.
“Managing inventory with a console controller is an enormous pain.”
As you move forward through encounters, you’ll acquire loot and level up. Here is where the problems begin. Managing inventory with a console controller is an enormous pain. Whether it’s finally realizing you can drag and drop items, figuring out how to drop/trash items to clear up more space, or simply navigating between each hero, it’s a chore. The system is not intuitive at all, and I had to actually Google how to drop unwanted items before I was able to continue due to a full bag. It turns out, you drag each item to the trash can icon that is only visible once you’re dragging an item. Trust me, it’s tedious.
In terms of issues with gameplay, I wasn’t a fan of the combat system. You have a party and the enemy team has a party, and each turn one unit from each party can make an action. You can’t make an action with the same unit twice in a row though, so plan carefully. While I’m not a fan of this particular turn-based style, it does the job.
My other major gripe is the difficulty spike. You’re playing a roguelike, so death is inevitable. However, at least in other roguelikes, you feel like you’re making progress at a decent pace. In Pixel Heroes, that pace is instead glacial or non-existent. I didn’t feel like there was an end goal to work towards, and a full party wipe ends with you simply restarting entirely. This wouldn’t bother me so much if the difficulty didn’t spike like it seems to. I was making decent progress multiple times, killing everything in my path with ease and stocking up on way too many potions, when a rough boss would absolutely decimate my team.
It’s as if you’re strolling through a valley and instead of a slope you meet a cliff. If you were given hints as to the nature of the upcoming boss so you could change your party accordingly, this wouldn’t be nearly so bad. Instead, you just have to start over and hope to make the correct choices next time.
“Unless you’re really looking for that blast from the past, stay away from Pixel Heroes on console.”
Honestly, Darkest Dungeon seems to do everything you might want from Pixel Heroes, but it does it better. Sure, DD is three times the price, but do yourself a favor and fork over the extra cash for a simply better experience unless you’re instead purchasing Pixel Heroes on mobile. Unless you’re really looking for that blast from the past, stay away from Pixel Heroes on console. It offers all of the classic RPG tropes, but all of the problems that came with retro games so long ago as well.
***An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher***
- Funny cameos
- Retro art style
- Decent skill checks
- Resolution is meant for mobile
- Difficulty spikes
- Awful console UI