I’ve always wanted to see some of Apple Arcade’s game collection ported to consoles and it’s nice to see some developers taking the initiative for their games. Yes, HEROish is an Apple Arcade game now fully available on other platforms with this new release also being a large update for that original version. Developed and published by Sunblink, HEROish is a sidescrolling MOBA-lite (“massive online battle arena”) deck-building game where players fight to destroy one another’s ‘soul gem’, or respawn point, by using a set of cards that are randomly selected and placed into their hands. There are also three campaigns that can be played as well, for bite-sized action as well as acting as a tutorial for the game.
What you get is a fun Xbox Live Arcade-like title that I found plays best in short bursts. Lemme show you why.
In HEROish, players play through the campaign first, of which there are three, and feature a pair of playable characters with their own unique traits. I went with Flynn in the first campaign, equipped with a shapely chin and a heroic grin, I marched through the tutorial which does a great job of explaining the game’s mechanics. As I mentioned before, your deck is a big part of how you advance through levels. Some might revolve around defending yourself against waves of enemies or fighting an opposing champion and destroying their soul gem. There’s a good chunk of differing objectives in the campaigns and they’re all short enough to encourage replays with the other playable character in said campaign.
Now to be more specific about the deck gameplay, you’ll primarily be summoning minions to do your bidding. Just like other MOBAs such as League of Legends or DotA, minions are key to damage mitigation as they’ll pull the attention of the enemy team’s units away from you so you can attack freely (and thankfully, characters auto attack). They can be punishing if ignored, too, as they’ll deal a lot of damage in large numbers. I had some good fun slowly building up a massive army of units to charge with, but I also got kind of frustrated at times because how you can summon your deck’s units is random, and although you can reset your hand to pull for new cards, sometimes a loss is just because you stepped on a crack on the pavement. I also don’t like how slow the minions move as having to wait for them to continue working on your objective (and ergo, walking with them slowly) can be a little annoying especially since you may need to rely on them to know where to go in a map.
Besides the fun but cheesy campaign story, you can play online matches. Playing the campaign earns you rewards for the multiplayer, and this is where I imagine the developer wants players to spend time. The game does support crossplay across all platforms which is very nice, and the few matches I played worked better with the MOBA style of gameplay as the maps are more condensed. There are alternative pathways to take, and they probably give an advantage, but I never used them and neither did the other players. Still, there are a lot of characters and unlocks you can gather in this mode, and I found myself enjoying myself in short bursts between other games thanks to Quick Resume.
I did have some faults with some of the UI, such as the card upgrading screen. As HEROish was a mobile game first, its menu system consists of blown-up icons designed for large fingers such as my own. But because of that it made managing cards for my decks and upgrading their levels a little cumbersome to keep track of.
HEROish really hedges its bets on the replayability of its campaigns and its bite-sized matches. At its core, I think it works best as an on-the-go game rather than one on your big TV screen. You probably won’t spend consecutive hours playing HEROish, but it works as a good in-between when you’re bored. But in a world where games demand way too much from the player, short and fun games leave me a happy man.
Now Sunblink, please nerf the Wraith girl.
Xbox Series X
- Fun combat system with a solid variety of units and champion skills
- Matches are short and don't overstay their welcome
- User interface doesn't work well on the big screen
- Random card pulls for skills and units sometimes makes games feel cheap, rewarding luck more than skill.