If you’re ready for a fun hack’n’slash adventure at the low price of “free,” Herobound: First Steps is definitely a no-brainer. Please note that you’ll require a gamepad to play this title.
Herobound: First Steps is a simple third-person dungeon crawler. It isn’t complicated; there’s no magic, you don’t accumulate loot, and there’s no semblance of a storyline. It’s a straightforward game to demonstrate what a dungeon crawler can look and feel like in a 3D environment and will only take roughly two hours to complete.
Upon starting Herobound First Steps, you’ll immediately feel a sense of presence in the room, a sensation you do not feel in 2D dungeon crawlers. This is where the 3D effect stands out and makes this game feel unique. There are times when you can get your character close enough to reach down and almost touch him, or so it seems.
The game begins in the home of the main character. He’s an endearing little gremlin-like creature wearing nothing but pants and a horned helmet, one that would do little for protecting his large, floppy ears. He carries his torch or sword, and eventually a bow, which will be found in later in the game. He even looks at you at times, seemingly well aware that you’re in the room ready to guide him through his upcoming journey.
The gameplay is as you’d expect; dungeons consist of a network of rooms, and the in-game map does a great job of showing your location. You begin Herobound First Steps with the choice of two dungeons, and once you complete them to retrieve the artifacts within, you’ll unlock the final dungeon. As you work through the rooms, you’ll encounter multiple types of enemies and a series of puzzles. While some puzzles are as simple as killing all current enemies or stepping on a block to open the doorway gates, others require shooting targets with your bow or finding keys in other rooms to unlock doors. None of these puzzles are complicated, but they keep things fresh and fun when considering the short duration of the game. There are treasure chests with gems, and larger chests with upgraded swords or bows. The bosses are easy enough to take down, but still provide some variation from the usual enemies you encounter.
The controls are simple and effective. The left stick controls the motion of your character, while the other buttons map to jump, attack, view map and dash/roll. In addition, the D-pad allows you to change weapons. Some mashing of the attack button will result in a combo attack to take down enemies and there’s also a jump attack that seems to be more powerful than a standard attack. Once you have the bow, the attack button will shoot an arrow to the place that you, the user, are looking. It works surprisingly well, although it can sometimes create difficulty dodging things with your character on the ground while your gaze is looking away to shoot enemies in different areas of the room.
From a technical standpoint, I experienced no issues or errors to report. It may be confusing the first time you jump out of the game and jump back in. You start once again in your character’s home, but once you enter the dungeon you previously played, you’ll be placed back in the same room as you left off.
Overall, Herobound: First Steps is absolutely worth trying out if you have a gamepad. Even if you aren’t typically a fan of dungeon crawlers, it’s worth checking out briefly for the 3D presence. This isn’t the most in-depth title and it won’t take too much of your time, but it’s a great foray into Gear VR titles that utilize a controller, and its gameplay has just enough variety to keep your attention. If this game leaves you craving more, there is already a paid sequel to this called Herobound Spirit Champion. It promises a longer, deeper experience with more variation in environments, abilities and storyline.