What would happen if you took the Mystery Dungeon genre, the classic overworld map, and an auto scrolling level from a Mario game blended them together? You would get One Way Heroics developed by indie developer SmokingWOLF. Darkness threatens to engulf the world. We have heard that a million times, but in the case of One Way Heroics; its literal. On the left side of your screen is an ever approaching wall of darkness that destroys all caught in its path and that means instant game over for you. As you move towards your destination you have to always keep that wall in mind on top of having to deal with all common elements of a mystery dungeon game. The entire game takes place on procedurally generated classic overworld styled maps with an ost to match. The music can be described as a collection of world map themes, and there are over 100 pieces of music that change as the biomes/shops you travel through change so you are never listening to one piece of music for to long. Even if you were, they're all so pleasing to ear. Presentation of the game is meh, everything is toooo small to be appreciated. I get the developer was aiming for as much map space as possible but bigger sprites for characters and enemies should not have been a trade off.
When you boot up the game you will prompted to choose from 11 different classes(only 2 are initially available) and you wanna think hard because class will change how you approach your run. Every class has their stats that they specialize in and upon leveling up, one stat will receive a bonus point. Now, stats they don't specialize in? Expect to see very little if any increase. You also need to consider terrain as bodies of water and mountains can be crossed but the efficiency in doing so depends on class. At low swimming levels it will take 15 turns and a massive amount of stamina (if you lose all stamina then it starts taking HP) to move one tile in water but pick the Pirate class that starts off with good swimming ability, quickly gaining more, and crossing water is the same as moving on land with very little stamina lost and a good getaway option if overwhelmed (very few enemies can attack you in water) or taking shortcuts.
Every class can gain an edge with perks. You can equipped up to 5 different perks to help make up for their weaknesses or further increase their potency and the perks can be stacked. Swordmaster class starts off with 0 in both terrain and swimming(will never gain points in those stats upon level up either), but coupled with the swim coach and/or cliff hanger perks and now those hazards have become less of a hazard(in small doses). Do you really wanna do that though? You can, but its not really the classes specialty but the game offers that kind of flexibility. Just one point is a big increase in any stat.
So, what is objective of the game? To find and defeat the Dark Lord across various dimensions(more on that later). Depending on difficulty (total of 4) the spawn point and frequency of the Dark Lord will change. At the lowest difficulty, Dark Lord will span at 400 km mark. Before then you gotta get buff. Weapons, armor and items can be found on the map or dropped from enemies, but the best chance at getting powerful stuff early in journey are dungeons. Dungeons do not shift over to a new map or anything so that wall is still moving, and what makes them even more dangerous is that the way you came in may also be the only way out. Dungeons are maze like and filled with a ton of monsters with very little room to out maneuver them. So, while you're trying to get the treasure of the dungeon the entry point could have already been swallowed, so that means you gotta bust out. Walls of buildings can be destroyed but the difficulty of that will depend on the wall type and your weapon; axes have the greatest wall breaking power and bows have none. Very much a risk vs reward thing. All weapons and armor have durability that you may or may not be able to see depending on your item appraisal ability. You can still equipped them but durability and how it raise effects stats will not be known.
Tip - If you find an axe, keep it regardless of class. Even a weak axe will do
While traveling the land you can run into various vendors that will teach you new skills/magic at the expense of your stat points. Pretty good stuff to be gotten from them but do you wanna lose precious points to learn them? once again risk vs reward This also extends to party members. You can find and up to 3 npcs to join you on the journey and I find that the stat lost for them(charisma) is worth it. They are extra damage, you don't need to equipped them and they function as meat shields for your sides and back. If you or the enemy are attack from the sides its 1.2 more damage and from the back its 1.5 more damage. It is very easy to be overwhelmed by a bunch if enemies at one time ending the your run, but you have a trick up your sleeve. Every class has the Awakening skill that allows you to stop time for 3 turns up to 5 times per run. It does not seem like much but the amount of times that it has saved from unwanted demise is countless. Save and abuse when needed because at higher difficulties Dark Lord will spawn at certain intervals and early in the journey you will not be able to defeat him so you must run. He can only exist in the world for 3 hours at a time but he always spans in front of you and getting around him to make a mad dash is a pain in the ass and awakenings make it less so.
So what happens when you die? you will be ranked on your performance and be given points. These points can be used to unlock more perks, classes, and add more space to your dimensional vault. The Dimensional vault allows you to carry over items so that you have a even bigger edge at the start of a new run. It is possible to save your game. At certain intervals Goddess of Time will let you save in exchange for levels (stats don't lower but rating takes a hit) or can save with any elf you find in villages. You can even buy/find save crystals that allow you to save on a whim but don't save yourself in a unwinnable situation.
More on those dimensions I mentioned earlier. The game does not have a story mode but a singular event happening across multiple dimensions(multiverse) and these are represented by the various campaigns. Each campaign is same base event but with a new stipulation and these campaigns are rotated every couple days of week. One campaign has all item drops be money so that the only places you get weapons, armor and items are vendors.. that may or may not show up. Another has you escorting a girl to her parent at a certain distance but if you kill the Dark Lord before getting her there you failed. You can even manually input your own dimension name and based on that a world will be generated for you. There is a true ending and the games achievement system will help you reach it. It is not that kind of achievement system but a set of objectives that have to be completed before you can even attempt the massive 2000 km true ending run. It will only show 2 objectives at a time, starting easy, then getting more complicated, slowing filling that percentage bar along the way. It gives you something definite to work towards because once you beat him a him a few times Dark Lord stops becoming a challenge and more like a moving terrain obstacle.
One Way Heroics was something that I was looking at for awhile. I came close to buying it several times before, but I am glad that I finally did. I had a lot of fun with game. Hell, I'm still having fun with game. I "completed" the game a few days ago but I'm still making runs because I still have a handful of classes that I have not completed a run with so I'm still getting mileage out of the game. On top of that because of the random element of the game, I'm still running into weapons, biomes and enemy types I haven't seen before. I just found out that a cow can be a npc party member. Unique take on the Mystery Dungeon genre mixed with high replayability