You know what games don’t do enough of these days? Incorporating the boring, bland and antiquated systems of old. After all, we really don’t see enough frustrating menus or bland action today! But lucky for you Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic is on the case to bring back overly simplistic combat, “retro” graphics, and a soundtrack so woeful you’ll want to burst your own eardrums.
In a rather clichéd move you start in a tavern and can choose a party of three, from a variety of characters of numerous races and classes. From there you set off out into town to take on mundane tasks for the townspeople such as finding lost pets or retrieving tobacco for a local , *ahem*, “herb enthusiast”. Once you have chosen a quest from the locals you travel across the map to its location. Randomly selected events are spread out across the world and range from battles to more unusual events, such as tasting the world’s hottest chillies. The game’s off the wall humour is certainly appreciated, as it distracted me, if only for a moment, from the bland combat for one thing.
In Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic you’ll spend most of your time engaged in combat with various RPG standards like witches, orcs and skeletons, but it’s all a bit uninspired. You’ll have seen everything on offer here elsewhere, and in a much more appealing way. Battles are your standard turn-based affair, with each side taking pot shots at the other. Depending on which characters you’ve chosen, your party will have mages, archers, clerics and warriors, all of whom fulfil different roles. Characters can attack with their weapons or tomes, as well as two unique skills – which don’t seem to be upgradeable. In a somewhat annoying move, only one member of each party can attack in a turn, meaning that combat moves at a snail’s pace. And it’s not that interesting either.
Although you can upgrade your gear, which is doled out far too generously, I ended up falling back on the same attacks time after time, and neglecting to use other members of my party in battle. The battles I found myself in never inspired any excitement either, instead reducing themselves to me clicking the same attacks over and over, or using the same attack and heal patterns. Where’s the skill?
Each quest you undertake has seven different battles, although you’ll occasionally encounter a random event instead, as well as a boss battle. So expect to be doing the same thing over and over, without any real story to at least keep you interested.
If you are victorious in finding the lost pet or retrieving the “herbs” you’ve been asked to find, you can return to town to stock up on supplies or revive downed allies. After that it’s pretty much a case of lather, rinse and repeat until you come to that particular campaign’s boss. If you can put up with that kind of repetition, without any compelling reasons to do so, more power to you!
Mediocrity extends itself to all other aspects of the game, including its “retro” chiptune soundtrack that I couldn’t bear to listen to for more than a few minutes at a time.
Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic isn’t a bad game, it’s perfectly serviceable in fact, but in a market saturated with competition you are destined to find something much more original and enjoyable.
If you absolutely must play an anaemic RPG with nothing original of its own, knock yourself out.