F is for Flat Heroes

Flat Heroes is a minimalist multiplayer action/puzzle/platformer/shooter currently in Early Access on Steam. Each of the characters is a simple square avatar. There are both cooperative and competitive modes, though it is limited to local multiplayer, at least for now. The devs mention online play as a potential option in the future, but it’s not in the pipeline right now.

The first mode you’re introduced to is called Waves. This is the only mode that you can play completely single player, with no AI bots taking the place of the other players. In Waves, you have to maneuver around an enclosed area while avoiding various lasers and projectiles for a set amount of time until you clear the level. Some of these levels lean more towards action, with your little square leaping and dodging. Others seem more puzzle oriented, with trial and error informing you which areas are safe and which are dangerous.

There are several multiplayer modes, which you unlock as you progress further through Waves. I tried out Battle and Runner, the first two that are unlocked. The control scheme and objective of Waves was relatively simple to understand. Battle and Runner are a bit more complicated. The objectives are simple enough, but the control schemes were not explained at all. You basically try to run into the other squares, but also push B at the same time, I think. If you time it right, they explode and you don’t. I still am not sure how I actually scored a hit on the AI in Battle.

Runner is simplified capture-the-flag. You grab a little icon and then the other square tries to take it back from you. After I had grabbed the flag, my opponent started shooting at me. I had no idea that I could do that! After they grabbed the flag, I tried various buttons and triggers to no avail. It turned out that I had to aim the bullets with the Right Joystick like a twin-stick shooter. Not only was this not communicated anywhere in the interface, but it’s also inconvenient to have to lift your thumb off of the jump/dash button to shoot.

Flat Heroes definitely seems geared towards multiplayer functionality first and foremost. Unfortunately, all of my playtime with this game was in single player mode. If you’ve got gamers in your house to play with, your experience may vary. There are definitely worse ways to blow 8 bucks though. Aside from some minor control gripes, this game is a good time. Also, being in Early Access means it will still be improving, and you can include your voice in what you’d like to see improved. Give it a whirl!

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