Platform: PS4 (tested), PC, NSW, XBO, Mobile

Released: 2019

2D physics based vehicle games are a niche that I thoroughly enjoy when they are done right. The hours I’ve spent on Trials games and Snuggle Truck among others are plentiful. Hero Express initially holds a small candle to those great with some great ideas but stumbles in the execution.

The presentation and vehicle selection are the best elements of Hero Express

Hero Express pits an underbaked but fun story of driving one of eleven vehicles over eleven tracks to bring a power up to a hero so he can defeat the kaiju attacking that area. I wish more was made of it but it sets up the fact that each area will have quirks with its terrain, obstacles and vehicle physics. Initially this all sounds fun until you start each area and find that a lot of it is a reskin of the same things. From here its making sure you traverse from A to B collecting fuel cans to keep your engine running along the way.

That would be fine if the levels were challenging and interesting but although each level takes a good 3-4 minutes to complete on a perfect run, it isn’t usually down to your skill. It’s down to your upgrades.

The fun soon wears off as you cross the jump for the 50th time

You see Hero Express has one giant flaw. The courses have been designed to stop your progress because your vehicle isn’t powerful enough to complete it. Each vehicle has four stats that need to be upgraded and you collect money on your runs to do this. Engine power, tyre grip and stability will need to be upgraded so you can even power up a huge hill. That’s not skill, that’s padding out gameplay. It occurs so often that you’ll know the first half of every level intimately by the time you finish it and you’ll be bored to tears. Once you have upgraded your vehicle to the fullest you can then breeze over these levels with relative ease. Only a couple have any timing based puzzles or skill involved – you can almost floor it from start to finish. Initially the grind won’t feel bad as each vehicle does feel different but by the end you’ll just want it to over.

Positives

  • Different vehicles do handle differently
  • Nice presentation

Negatives

  • Grind heavy
  • Little variation and a lot of reskinned content
  • The rogue-like level progression makes the game mind numbing

Conclusion

I was done with Hero Express well before its end but the team have the seed of something that can be improved on in the future. For now however, its mind numbingly dull because of the forced grind that removes all player skill.

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