A battle for the history books
Four score and seven million zombies ago, a high school teacher with a passion for history created a cloning machine in his garage to bring back some of the world’s greatest heroes for a second chance at providing salvation. Or so the famous speech goes. But you see, things have changed quite a bit since Abraham Lincoln and Cleopatra first went down in the history books, but luckily their reincarnated clones have a few special advantages like deadly melee weapons or magic powers on their side. While Second Chance Heroes doesn’t take itself too seriously in the story department, what it does take seriously are its fine-tuned gameplay and level designs, which work together to create one of the best mobile hack-n-slashers that we’ve seen in quite some time.
At its core, Second Chance Heroes is a blend of RPG and hack-n-slash gameplay with online co-op elements in the same vein as Diablo or Marvel Heroes. The basic idea is to make you way through each environment and kill anything and everything that gets in your path. Players move their characters with a virtual dual joystick control scheme: the left one for movement, and the right one to attack in any direction. Smaller hotkeys surrounding each joystick let you pull off special attacks and other bonuses, like a quick burst of speed. You’ll also be able to use one of the hotkeys to quickly switch between your two selected heroes at will, which I found to be an especially welcomed addition.
You’ll mostly be slaying zombies along your journey through this wacky apocalypse (who are rendered with funny and cartoonish lime-green skin), but it won’t be long before creatures like vampires and werewolves start entering the battle. The environments themselves are just as fun and interesting to explore. One of my personal favorites was actually the very first set of levels, appropriately titled “Mandatory Fun Time,” which finds players fighting through a blinking arcade, complete with breakable gumball machines and a massive disco floor. Each level also has a handful of optional challenges for you to complete, such as getting through an area without anyone dying or finding hidden collectables, and this gives the game a little more of a purpose than just blindly chopping things up.
But it’s really in all the clever ways that Second Chance Heroes presents its large roster of playable historical characters that allows the game to shine. The poster boy for the app is a war-bloodied Abraham Lincoln, who wears his iconic top hat and wields a revving chainsaw. But the other 11 heroes have their own fun and humorous quirks in store for us as well. For instance, renowned physicist and chemist Marie Curie hobbles around with a nuclear-reactive walker. Queen Elizabeth carries a mighty “Chain, Chain, Chaingun.” And Leonardo Da Vinci just moves around in a giant half-mechanical and half-wooden bodysuit. It’s totally ridiculous, and yet so totally awesome.
You’ll start the game out with Abraham Lincoln and Cleopatra, while the other heroes can be purchased using premium currency. You’ll be able to easily pick up a third character with the currency the game gives you right off the bat, and it doesn’t really seem like that bad of a deal since you don’t exactly need to use it to buy all that much else. What’s great about being able to switch between two heroes at will is the fact that, if one of them dies, you won’t have to spend an extra heart to revive them at first, as you can simply pick up where you left off with the other one. Better yet, if you’re playing with a party of other players online, then your teammates will have the opportunity to revive you as well.
The online co-op components work surprisingly well here in Second Chance Heroes. Getting into a game with other online heroes is a breeze, and you’ll be able to work in unison with your team towards destroying all those hordes of baddies that would make even Genghis Khan or Blackbeard the Pirate sweat. Unfortunately, sometimes the online co-op can experience some pretty heavy lag, which is probably a result of so much on-screen action going on at once. The leveling up system also leaves a bit to be desired. While you’ll earn XP for completing levels and other challenges, the effects of actually improving or upgrading your different characters aren’t felt too much, and the bigger gameplay incentive is moving through the levels, rather than focusing on your skills.
But despite the minor hiccups along the way, for a free-to-play Diablo-like experience on a mobile device, you really can’t go wrong with Second Chance Heroes. While its tongue-in-cheek humor might not be something you’d find in your high school history books, it’s still a whole lot of fun in thinking so. Besides, there’s way more to be learned here in level design and addicting gameplay anyway. And come on, you get to play as Abraham Lincoln with a bloody chainsaw! Just like our forefathers had always intended.