Underhero (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

In this game, you start out as a generic hero ready to storm the evil lord Mr. Stiches’ castle.  As you approach, a few weak minions prepare for the worst, but one of the minions decides to kill the hero by dropping a chandelier on him!  After that, you take control of that minion!  When you approach the defeated hero, a talking sword hilt says that now YOU’RE the new hero!  But you still work for the bad guy, who tasks you with returning three special stones to the bosses that the original hero defeated.  But secretly, the sword hilt tells you to defeat those bosses again and get strong enough to battle your boss and become the Underhero.  Underhero is an action RPG game that turns RPG archetypes on their ear, since you are sort of on the enemies’ side!  It’s available to download on all current home consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

At first glance, you may think this is a straight up 2-D platformer, as you explore the world in sidescrolling fashion, jumping over obstacles and such.  Explore every nook and cranny to find money, treasure and other secrets.  Instead of towns, you’ll visit monster lairs and hideouts to gather clues, save your game, and buy items.  But when you encounter a monster in the wild, that’s when things change.  You’ll start an RPG styled battle with them, but since you are on the same side, you can do a few different things.  For starters, you can talk to the enemy and maybe get a few hints.  If you have enough gold, you can also bribe your way out of the fight.  But more often than not, you should battle the monsters to gain experience points and raise your level.

The battles are where things get different.  They appear turn-based, but they’re really not.  You can attack anytime, but you have a stamina meter that depletes with each attack, and if it runs out you won’t be able to move for a while.  So you’ll want to keep that meter full.  To do so, you must properly avoid enemy attacks by jumping, ducking, or reflecting projectiles with your shield.  The enemy will telegraph their moves with special animations, and if you successfully avoid them, you’ll refill your stamina meter and maybe even reflect back their attacks.  It’s VERY similar to the Mario & Luigi handheld RPGs. The money you earn from these battles can buy healing potions and anvils to repair your shield if it gets broken, among other things.

Really the only problems I had with this game is that the RPG battles kind of bog down the platforming, and travelling and backtracking though some of the maze-like areas can be a little tedious.  And a few more frequent save points would’ve been nice.  But the game has nice pixel graphics and chiptune-y music, and is a pretty charming and competent action RPG.  If you miss the Mario & Luigi games, you may want to check Underhero out since it may be a while before we get another Mario & Luigi RPG since the company who made them went out of business last year.

Kid Factor:

Underhero is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Blood and Violence.  Aside from a few red pixel squares, I didn’t notice too much blood.  You do slash silly enemies with a sword and other attacks, but defeated characters just poof away.  You do squash the hero with a chandelier, but there are no grisly death scenes or anything.  I’d be OK with kids younger than teens playing this, but strong reading skill is still required because of all the text.

2 Responses to “Underhero (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)”

  1. I love the Mario & Luigi games’ battle system. I look forward to playing this.

  2. Ha ha. This looks pretty good!

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