Heroes of Hammerwatch is a near-perfect fit for the Nintendo Switch, it's rogue-like procedurally generated goodness on the go and it's a lot of fun. In a game set in the same universe as Hammerwatch, released in 2017, you will have to upgrade, build and loot aplenty to survive the endless waves of beasties that await you.
At its heart, Heroes of Hammerwatch is a twin-stick shooter. Control your little pixelated hero with one stick and aim with the other, although your weapon of choice will depend on the character class you have selected, of which there are plenty. I started with a melee character and did not enjoy it too much. I got overwhelmed too easily by swathes of critters, so I swiftly changed to the mage and that is where I found my groove.
You start in a run-down, decrepit town and guess what? It's up to you to not only kill all the horrors filling the dungeons but upgrade all the buildings, keep people in jobs and drag the town back up to a workable state. The cheek of it! On a serious note though, I did like the gameplay loop, how you upgrade the town and how it affects the gameplay and your character is both smart and rewarding.
Each time you go out fighting, you collect gold, ore and other goods that can all be brought back to upgrade your character and buildings in the town you seem to be fixing up by yourself. There are loads of other people here, why are they not chipping in? Lazy buggers. Anyway, you can use the gold and ore to buy new gear, upgrade your buildings, which lead to further upgrades and merchants and it all fits together nicely in a moreish rogue-like tapestry. More gold leads to more upgrades, which leads to more gold and more upgrades which all lead to you being more powerful and getting more resources. It's a very rewarding system that keeps you coming back for more.
Heroes of Hammerwatch is a rogue-like after all, so whenever you die within a dungeon, you lose all you have acquired in that run. This may sound rough to a lot of players but rogue-like aficionados will feel right at home here, it creates a feeling of constant dread and you always have to be aware of what you are doing. Luckily, there is a lift on each floor of the dungeon, that, for a meagre fee, will extract what resources you have gathered so far. This means that even if you only last a few floors, even if you fluff it up and die to a stupid mistake, you still get something out of the run and feel you are progressing. Even if it is only a very modest amount.
One of the best features, which elevates Heroes of Hammerwatch from good to great is the suite of multiplayer features. Hacking and slashing through dungeons alone is good but doing it with friends is even better. With your Switch, you can play locally with other Switches or online and it works flawlessly and needs little work from yourself to get into a multiplayer slash-fest. It gets quite chaotic with 4 players and it amplifies the enjoyment massively. I loved playing the game with my boys and we painted the dungeons red together. Dad skills!
Graphically, I am very torn over this game. On one hand, the pixel-art is gorgeous, from the weather effects in the main town to the enemies and environments, it all looks stunningly beautiful. However, I have issues with its size. I was OK because even at 38, my eyesight is still quite good but I do feel a lot of people may have issues with the size of the text and the UI. Even some of the dungeon crawling could benefit from a bit of a size increase.
Soundwise, while nothing stood out as being incredibly memorable, I liked what was there. The sound effects were good and the music fit the style and aesthetic of the game. That is all you can ask for with sound work, as long as it keeps you grounded in the world, it's good. The game also ran very well, I had zero issues at all with performance and that makes me very happy. It all ran very well, even when the action got a bit turbulent in multiplayer games, everything ran smoothly.
There is a lot to like in Heroes of Hammerwatch and enough content to probably keep you playing until Nintendo releases a new console. The game comes with new game+, all three DLC packs and hundreds of hours of content. Now, go forth and find three friends, work together to find loot, kill all the monsters you can and drag this town back to prosperity. Last of all be happy, Heroes of Hammerwatch is an enjoyable and rewarding game.