ZHEROS review (PlayStation 4)

Zheros was developed by Rimlight Studios. The game was released on April 28th and a code was given to us for review purposes.

Originally released in 2016 for PC and Xbox One, Rimlight Studios has brought their side scrolling beat’em up to the PlayStation 4. Zheros is loaded with typical video games tropes such as a sci-fi setting where the world needs to be saved from an evil character named Dr. Vendetta. With repetitive game design and endless generic enemy robots, Zheros feels like a game that missed it’s calling by about 10 years.

Players can tackle Zheros either by playing solo or with a local co-op partner. Your choices of characters are either a large muscly man named Mike or a more nimble female character called Dorian. I chose to play as Mike, for obvious reasons, and enjoyed his lumbering smash and pound mechanics. As you progress thru the game, you will collect XP orbs. If you collect enough, including a hidden star, you can then use them to upgrade your character. For Mike, you have the choice of either upgrading his fighting skills, shield, or gun. As you invest more into your character, the more moves he can pull off, which include aerial attacks, charges, and ground punches.

With it’s rinse and repeat formulas, the more refined gamer will get very little out of a title like Zheros. However, if you have a young one who is just getting into gaming, this could be a title to wet their whistle. A young gamer will be introduced into the basics of button mashing, shooting, jumping, evading, and reflecting bullets. While that might not send ideal for a child, the violence and graphics are wrapped in a very kid friendly, comic-bookish design.

As I play through a game like Zheros, I’m always left with who is making this game. Is this a game where the designers are getting used to development and that is why the constant flow of the game design is repetitive. Or are their budgetary constraints put on the team, which limits their abilities to deliver a more compelling, up to date, gaming experience. For a game in 2017 and with what I would consider middle of the road graphics, the load times are unacceptable. To further exacerbate the situation, the checkpoint system is sparse and really can stifle any momentum you’ve built up. Playing a mediocre game once is enough, having to replay certain parts again due to a checkpoint that brings you back significantly isn’t fun.

I enjoy games and can often find the good in most bad gaming situations. Here in Zheros, the button mashing, killing of robots, and collecting orbs scratches that primal gaming itch. At it’s core, it does stuff that we gamers like to do. The problem though is that it doesn’t expand beyond those core functions. For a 6 hour game with 18 levels, your mileage will vary depending if you have a co-op partner or not. Unfortunately, the lack of modern day features like drop-in/drop-out online co-op are missing. I’m a firm believer even the worst games are made better with friends. I wish I had a chance to enjoy Zheros more with an online buddy, as kicking robotic space cows would’ve been more exciting.

With the PlayStation 4 launch of Zheros, DLC called The Forgotten Land, which features Asian-inspired surroundings and atmosphere, was also released. We were not given a code to review this DLC.