Square Heroes has been out for what seems like a lifetime! I remember playing it at the first PAX Australia back in 2013 and enjoying the crazy antics of the little square shoot ’em up. It finally reached Steam mid last year to very positive reviews and now it’s set to make history as the first WA based video game to launch on the PS4.
I was happily re-introduced to the game at last years Perth Games Festival, sharing it with my partner Adele for the first time. It’s certainly come a long way since it’s early days in development, with licks of polish and a tighter sense of control over your character. But the humour and engaging action has always been there, a testament to a solid framework.
For those of you unaware, Square Heroes is a mixture of four player party game and a traditional shooter, which many don’t know is actually a sequel to an earlier game called Square Off. You play as one of four coloured squares and must dodge, shoot and hack your way to victory. You start each round with the bare minimum and you must unlock new weapons by eliminating opponents and collecting dropped loot. As some reviewers have put it, it’s like the classic Team 17 Worms series, except you’re constantly on the move instead of taking turns.
It can get truly chaotic as each player unlocks their favourite weapon and just as hilarious swinging axes at each others heads. Part of the charm is watching the character faces react with glee at a kill, or gritting their teeth with determination. Personally I like the idea that you can also customise your loud out yet everyone starts each game in hand to hand combat. It levels the playing field a little and gives newer players a chance to compete against seasons pros, since this is the kind of game where anything can happen.
Introducing the game to console, Perth devs Gnomic Studios have tweaked and added a number of new features (also available on PC with a recent patch), the most important of which is cross-platform play. Very few games can be played across PC and PS4, with the obvious exception of Rocket League, but it makes perfect sense to have it here. When you already have an in-built fan base, why not? Plus this also works with the Mac and Linux versions of the game, another handy bonus.
Given that there’s been an influx of four player party games in the last few years, that return to couch multiplayer we’ve so longed for after the advent of online gaming, it can be a little tricky to stand out from the crowd. Square Heroes shouldn’t have a problem however, given its pedigree and the fact that it’s been around before the party craze really kicked off last year. Its premise is simple but colourfully effective and anyone can play at any age.
Mark Isaacson is a freelance writer who think it’s hip to be square.