Has Been Heroes by Frozenbyte is out now in the Nintendo Switch eShop and a cursory glance at the community surrounding the game seems to be rating it unfavorably due to its difficulty. I’m not going to mince words with you here, this game is difficult. There’s a lot to manage and it has the unfortunate aspect of locking items behind “runs”, which means you won’t get stronger until you lose and turn in those Soul Orbs.
While playing the game and composing thoughts for our review, I’ve discovered a handful of tips that will help you “git gud” at Has Been Heroes and avoid some of the more common mistakes that can lead to a frustrating first experience with the game.
1. Use the pause button liberally to get your bearings.
Has Been Heroes is a roguelike game with an unlock system similar to The Binding of Isaac. As you slay monsters and unlock soul orbs, you’ll earn 2 additional unlocks after every game for an increasing amount of orbs. This means you’ll have more and better item choices at spell vendors, merchants, chests, and spell gamblers to help you on your way.
The L button serves as the game’s pause button to pause the action and choose your spells. We recommend using this button liberally at the start as you learn the game. Setting up your lanes to do the most damage with your heroes takes practice, so use this to your advantage to give you time to prep the most damaging strike the next time your cooldowns are up.
2. Don’t use abilities as they come off the timer, plan them.
Because heroes have a sort of turn-based movement style, it can be tempting to send them out immediately once their attack cooldown is up. However, that’s the best way to get your team ended very quickly. You want to use your heroes in conjunction with one another to set up powerful combos.
For example, the mage has a two hit combo that will deplete 2 stam blocks and stun, so following that up with a massive strike from the warrior is excellent. Setting up your stuns is the best way to take down advanced enemies like bosses and those with lots of stamina.
3. Think about how your abilities will manage the lanes.
As I’ve played through the game I’ve unlocked some interesting spells that actually make you think about the current lane configuration. One example is a water bomb that is summoned at your end of the lane and then wanders into the enemies. You have to rush out and hit the bomb to explode it, so you have to time it right to make sure your heroes hit it and not the enemies it’s running towards.
There are tons of clever spells that offer different effects in the game, so when you’ve got a handful of them, make sure you’re using them to their fullest potential. The only downside of this system is that when you encounter an item or spell for the first time, it’s ??? until you pick it up.
4. Focus on combos to remove stam and set up max damage.
I briefly touched on this before, but it’s worth mentioning in its own point. Your lanes are set up to do maximum damage when a hero can rush forward and then be replaced with another hero that will require the other hero to rush through a line of enemies.
The game was a lot harder in the pre-release patch because this return damage didn’t do as much, but I think Frozenbyte has tweaked this to be a little bit more useful with the latest patch.
5. Use Soul Orbs during boss fights to use spells.
When you have a total of 20 Soul Orbs in your possession, you can choose to use those orbs to instantly activate a spell instead of waiting for the cooldown. This can be invaluable in boss fights like the Skeleton Brawler, which spawns tons of baby skeletons that can really hamper your lane progress during the fight.
The real gamble here is if you want to save those Soul Orbs to give to Saint Peter for more unlocks, or if you want to use them to try and finish a close fight where you might need a bit of extra spell power to finish the boss off.
6. Plan your route through the floor to maximize gains.
Has Been Heroes borrows a page out of Darkest Dungeon’s book for its map mechanic. You’re presented with a maze with several nodules that you can explore. You can’t see what’s in each point until you’re at an adjacent point, so it’s worth plotting your path through the dungeon so you don’t cross over a path you’ve already been down.
Doing so uses up a candle, which is a limited resource and prevents you from backtracking too much over paths you’ve already taken.
7. Make sure you’re giving items to the best hero.
Certain items come with both negative and positive effects and have better benefits to different heroes. Your rogue and mage heroes only come with one stamina block to start, so any extra stamina items you get serve them best.
Items that increase melee strength can really benefit the warrior and items that increase critical and melee damage are a huge boon to the rogue. You can change who picks up an item at the merchant or a chest the same way you change lanes to fight monsters.
Hopefully, these tips give you a fighting chance in playing Has Been Heroes. The game is very difficult and I’ve played over thirty games in the time I’ve had it and I’ve yet to win one. In fact, I’ve yet to beat the second boss. However, I find myself treating it like a classic coffee break roguelike where I play ‘just one more game’ so I can see how many more items I can unlock.
Nintendo eShop Card – $20