Heroes of Hammerwatch is a spin-off title that takes a lot of the same gameplay loop from its predecessor Hammerwatch but combines it with rogue-like mechanics. This hack and slash title feels similar to old gauntlet games, resembling it even in its fantastic pixel art.

           I had played the original Hammerwatch title and enjoyed its combat and RPG elements but at the time just felt like it was missing something. I think they found the missing puzzle piece, the rogue-lite mechanics. This introduces new elements to the gameplay to add a more complete gameplay loop while still having great progression through its 6 acts each having a unique environment and boss to defeat. 

The maps have you battling through distinct locations and whether you’re looking for hidden switches in the mossy prisons or searching the chambers of a terrifying vampire lord for crucifixes you will be encouraged to go off the beaten path. Each map can feature puzzle rooms that require some thinking and trap rooms that you will have you parkour around dangerous objects, these will reward you with chests that can contain anything from items to food. I found myself exploring for secrets in every level too, as the game offers loot to those willing to be keen on details of the map. Each act also has a unique boss with different mechanics to master. After defeating a boss you are given a portal on the base floor of that act. Interacting with it takes you to a special room where you will fight a mysterious cube that summons waves of enemies. Winning this challenge rewards you with items and a shortcut to the next act.

The game’s pace can feel slow at first but after getting some upgrades you can start feeling like the Doom Slayer, wreaking havoc upon hundreds of foes. Combat is pretty unique between the several classes in the game, each offering different skills from shooting arrows to calling down meteors from the sky. Items will modify your characters’ stats and abilities and range from common to legendary as well as having set effects. These items are random and are found in many ways throughout each level from merchants to hidden rooms. 

As you are fighting off the diverse creatures in this game you will find gold and ore throughout the maps which act as your currency for permanent progression. You do so by beating the run or finding elevators that allow you to send your gold and ore back to town but be careful cause if you die you bring back nothing. After you die or complete a run you go back to the game hub the Town of Outlook

           The town has several functions and places to visit. You can spend your ore improving the town hall and its citizen’s shops to offer better services and upgrades to your characters. Visit the blacksmith to get better starting gear or the chapel to get powerful permanent blessings for your character. You can also unlock and level up your character’s skills at the Guild Hall using the stars you get from leveling up your hero. There is even a tavern that lets you use drinks you have found in barrels during your adventure, these give powerful effects but also a negative one too. The Fountain gives you options to modify runs from increasing enemy counts and other negatives to increase gold and experience gain, the fountain also has advantages such as more health potions that have you paying gold for assisted runs. These are balanced on a scale that decides what you will pay and can change entire runs in weird ways. The town’s status is shared between all of your characters too in case you want to try other classes. 

           Your adventure does not end at beating the game’s six acts, after you have beaten the game the first time you get the option to go into NewGame+. There are currently 10 levels of NG+ each giving you character another 5 levels to try and get as well as money and ore gain multipliers. Each boss also gains new mechanics and attacks in the first couple of New Game Plus’s as well as a few getting more in later NG+ levels. There are also a few DLC available, two expansions, and the Witch Hunter class. The Pyramid of Prophecy features a new area outside of the town to upgrade new stats, new items, three new acts, a new arena mode, and the gladiator class. The MoonTemple adds another 3 new acts, a mercenary mode, new cosmetics, and some new items and mechanics as well.

Final Thoughts:

Heroes of Hammerwatch took me by surprise and ended up being a fun game to play by yourself and with a few friends. It’s simple mechanics allow for easy and fun engagement but also will limit how long you can play before it gets stale. Encountered only one bug that made me play the game a bit differently but had a blast either way. Stable, no crashes on a mid-high-end PC.