I Am The Hero is a side-scrolling action beat ‘em up available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. There is also a Limited Edition retail release on Vita published by EastAsiaSoft including a region free retail release of I Am The Hero, a full colour printed manual, an original soundtrack album CD, an individually numbered collector’s certificate and a collector’s box featuring an embossed title logo. However, the Limited Edition retail release is limited to only 1,300 copies and is exclusively available from PlayAsia. I Am The Hero was originally created by Feiyu and Mongoose Studio before IndieNova and Ratalaika Games developed and published a port to Vita, PS4 and more platforms besides. Can I Am The Hero deliver an entertaining side-scrolling action beat ‘em up?

The story revolves around a mysterious hero that prevents villains from completing their evil plans. The story campaign includes half a dozen levels with three sublevels within each level, while almost every level has an enemy boss to defeat at the end of it, alongside 10 items that are scattered throughout the levels to collect. Level selection is unlocked within the extras menu after completing the entire story campaign.

Challenges mode includes two challenges comprising of a fight in a workshop with multiple enemies to defeat per wave of enemies in the aim of defeating as many enemies as possible and surviving for as long as possible, while challenge fight is against a huge enemy boss as quickly as possible.

Fighting moves are a massive gameplay mechanic within I Am The Hero; comprising basic skills such as varying punches and kicks, while special attacks are referred to as ex-skills that are exchanged for a single unit worth of energy for each performed ex-skill, although ex-skills need to be gradually learned through completing levels. Combos are constructed through hitting enemies with any fighting move without a significant response from any enemies. A complete overview of fighting moves can be found in-game within the hero’s guide feature.

Character design is superb as the lead character looks the part as a hero that is also a veteran in fighting, while completing a full level provides the opportunity to unlock enemy characters that the player has defeated to then become optional playable characters via choosing to unlock a character instead of an ex-skill at the end of a level. Enemy design is extremely varied as every enemy has their own comedy value such as one of the more common enemies from the first level onwards that fires his gun at your character; only for a boxing glove to pop out followed by an expression of surprise on his face. A man in the underground subway blames your character for scratching his car, so he orders numerous enemies to surround and attack your character. A tall rapper in the underground subway talks some nonsense before using his signature move that pushes the words “Pump it up” in big capital letters towards your character when he gets into a rap. Some enemies are common enemies that reappear more regularly than others with smaller health bars, while there are quite a few enemies that could be classed as mini enemy bosses as they have larger health bars and are more capable of ending your character’s combo, although there are over half a dozen giant enemy bosses that each has equally as gigantic health bars.

Environment design is quite varied as it includes such locations as a hospital, rooftops and streets, underground subway stations, numerous building interiors and more besides that are all furnished with items and decorations that would be anticipated from such areas; accompanied by whatever that fits in with the subject matter of each level.

I Am The Hero supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita, although it unfortunately does not support cross-save, so you will not be able to continue from your previous progression on the Vita version when playing the PS4 version and vice versa. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase.

The controls are appropriately mapped to the Vita and DualShock 4 controller as the Vita version has a comfortable control scheme consisting of pressing R to dodge; pressing triangle to charge; pressing O to kick; pressing square to punch; pressing X to jump; pressing select to switch characters; and changing the direction of the left analogue stick or alternatively pressing left or right to move your character, although there are no touch screen controls. Meanwhile, the DualShock 4 controller moves dodging to R2 and switching characters to R1. However, the DualShock 4 controller does not include any touch pad alternative controls that could have involved swiping right or left to switch to another character, while there is no light bar support that could have provided an alternative HUD for your chosen character’s health, alongside no vibration that could have reflected performing a ex-skill and your character being hit by enemies.

Graphically, I Am The Hero has a visually striking 2.5D retro art style, while having the colour palette and vibrancy of modern graphics, alongside objects being positioned in the background to emphasise the 2.5D perspective. Meanwhile, character models are excellently animated in facial expressions and fighting moves.

I Am The Hero’s presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the title menu, main menu, story campaign menus, challenges mode menus, hero’s guide menus, extras menus, options menu, online leaderboards and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons on Vita and DualShock 4, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch screen or touch pad between Vita and DualShock 4. The title menu features a close-up of the lead character with the title logo stylishly presented around him in neon colours, while menu backgrounds include a range of artwork that involves the lead character defeating various enemies, alongside loading screens providing animated and written instructions on how to perform a combo or ex-skill.

There is no character voice-overs as communication between your character and enemies encountered along the way is displayed via speech bubbles. Sound effects include your character performing fighting moves on enemies, enemies performing their fighting moves against your character, collecting items, running and jumping; complimented by a mixture of instrumental rock and dance music. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced sound effects and music.

The trophy list includes 23 trophies with 2 bronze trophies, 13 silver trophies, 7 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy with the PS4 and Vita versions having individual trophy lists. The majority of the trophies are harder as they involve attaining a particular combo quantity or mostly finding 10 items and defeating 7 enemy bosses including the R.I.P gold trophy for reaching 200 combo; the I’m Serious gold trophy for defeating the real final boss; and the Bli-Bli-Blink gold trophy for using the critical attack fighting move a total of 50 times. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 5 to 10 hours to platinum the trophy list.

There are three difficulty levels including standard, hard and critical, although hard and critical difficulty levels need to be unlocked. Even on standard difficulty; it can be rather tough to attain a combo in the triple figures due to the quantity of enemies that are simultaneously onscreen, while that is also the very reason that later levels in the story campaign are certainly harder than the earlier levels, although enemy bosses are only hard to defeat until the player figures out their movement and attack patterns. Local co-operative multiplayer does not seem to reduce the intensity of gameplay or reduce the difficulty during later levels. However, the positioning of the checkpoints such as beginning the battle with an enemy boss while having two lives and full health that at least reduces some of the frustration in comparison to if players had to return to the start of the level after being defeated by enemies.

Local co-operative multiplayer allows up to three players to play through the entirety of the story campaign together, while the performance during local co-operative multiplayer retains the frantic pacing of the single player. Meanwhile, there is local co-operative multiplayer for up to three players in challenges mode, alongside online leaderboards for challenges mode.

I Am The Hero’s replayability stems from a story campaign spanning half a dozen levels including three sublevels per level, numerous enemy bosses and 10 collectibles, a survival focused challenges mode, unlockable fighting moves and playable characters, local co-operative multiplayer for up to three players on PS4, online leaderboards for challenges mode and three difficulty levels that will collectively keep players returning for quite some time, alongside the ability to play on Vita or PS4 via cross-buy.

Analysis
• Title: I Am The Hero
• Developer: Feiyu and Mongoose Studio (Original Developers)/IndieNova and Ratalaika Games (PS4/Vita Port)
• Publisher: EastAsiaSoft/Ratalaika Games
• System: PS4/PS Vita
• Format: Limited Edition Retail Release/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: Yes
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1 (Vita)/1-3 (PS4 Local Co-operative Multiplayer)/Online Leaderboards
• PS4 Hard Drive Space Required: 344.3MB (Version 1.01)
• PS Vita Memory Card Space Required: 212MB (Version 1.01)

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