by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
If my high school history teacher were to play Second Chance Heroes, she would collapse into a coma from the vast number of historical inaccuracies that are present. And while I am by no means an expert in world history, I’m fairly positive that Abraham Lincoln did not carry a chainsaw to mow down his opponents in shopping malls. I’m equally positive that a high school history teacher would not be able to clone Lincoln and several other famous figures in the basement of his house. But then again, its ok to embellish a few historical facts, isn’t it?
Second Chance Heroes is a top-down hack and slash game revolving around a zombie apocalypse, followed by an alien invasion, along with several other different invasions and apocalypses. It gets pretty crazy. As mentioned in the last paragraph, a high school history teacher has cloned a number of famous men and women from throughout history in order to fight back. There’s the aforementioned Abe Lincoln, but alongside him are Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Napoleon Bonaparte and many others. If you’re wondering why the world needed superhuman clones of famous dead people in order to defeat zombies and aliens, when an army would be far more capable of turning the tide, then please see yourself out, because there is no place for such questions here.
If you have partaken in any zombie media in your life, be warned that every single possible trope present in those media can be found here. The first level in the game is a shopping mall for crying out loud, and the tropes don’t stop there. What does stop is any semblance of an interesting or funny narrative. The story is bland and unoriginal, yet the one saving grace that could have redeemed it, humour, is used improperly. And by improperly, I mean Second Chance Heroes stopped being funny around the second level. Which is a shame, because the zany premise begs for a high dose of humour in order to reach its full potential.
Gameplay wise, you are in control of two heroes that you can switch back and forth between at any time, and must fight your way through various levels till you reach the end and complete the objective, which usually involves a big boss fight. There are two attacks for each character: a normal attack with a left mouse click, and a special, usually area-of-effect attack with the right mouse button. Alongside those attacks are various collectible relics which can be used for many special abilities, such as a speed boost or an exploding toilet. Its a very simple system, and while I do think that there could be some more variety in each characters special abilities - not to mention the inclusion of more abilities - it works well.
Environmentally, the levels could have been far better designed. With a few exceptions, each level in the game is essentially a straight path with occasional rooms jutting out from the side. It would have been much more interesting if there were different offshoots that you could explore to find hidden areas and secrets, instead of walking through the same areas again and again. Another issue with the levels is that it takes quite some time before the environment changes. For example, I spent what felt like hours playing through the mall levels before finally moving on to the next zone. Wandering past the same tiles and textures gets boring after a while. Though to be fair, the presence of explosive barrels, breakable objects and other environmental hazards actually keeps things interesting, as I was always watching the madness unfold on screen.
More fun together
If Second Chance Heroes was single player only, it would be a very disappointing game. With the multiplayer included, it somewhat redeems itself. While it took me quite some time to find additional players to play with, when I did get into a group the levels were much more enjoyable. The chaotic nature of the game is increased tenfold with co-op partners, and I actually had some fun killing zombies with Genghis Khan and Blackbeard. What’s better is that any unlockables and experience that you’ve gained in multiplayer will transfer over to single player and vice versa, so you can maintain your characters across both game types. If you can find friends to play with, then I imagine that this game would be a great little time waster.
Second Chance Heroes is a perfect game for tablets, for which it was originally designed. Simple controls and gameplay allow for that easy pick up and play action that works so well there. Those same reasons become problems on the PC as there is simply not enough depth to carry it for a prolonged period of time. If you can convince some friends to buy and play this game with you, then you can have a few hours of fun in an otherwise forgettable hack and slash.
Zany premise, simple controls, decent multiplayer
Lack of variety in gameplay, environments, not that funny