Rusty Hearts: A style for all players!
Rusty Hearts Review
By: Lachlan Spears
Rusty Hearts isn’t perfect..
Rusty Hearts is a free- to-play hack and slash game developed by Stairway games and published by Perfect World Entertainment. The game is presented as an MMORPG, and has established a fairly dedicated community. It features both single-player and co-op components, with options to play alone or with a group of up to four people. Quests are completed by running dungeons and completing special objectives, most of which are simple enough given the low learning curve and in most cases forgiving combat. The controls do hinder a bit more than necessary however, often getting in the way unless the player is familiar with a League of Legends style control scheme, however entirely based on keyboard. Don’t get me wrong, this game is quite fun, but it definitely has its faults.
The game starts when you make a choice to play one of four different characters, each with their own skill set and combat type. Franz, the games main protagonist, is a sword wielding human/vampire hybrid that is on a mission with the Golden Seal Team (The other three characters) to stop Lord Vlad, the leader of the vampires. During the mission, Franz sees glimpses of his fiancé inside the dungeons, who’s life he saved by turning her into a vampire. His main goal shifts to returning her to her former human state.
The story is presented through short, often hilarious text based cut scenes. The dialogue can often be a little bit hefty, but serves its purpose, and really adds depth to the characters. Unfortunately, for the most part, the story revolves only around Franz, with the other characters not really having an apparent choice in the actions of the group. This would be fine if Franz was the only playable character, but if the player chooses one of the other characters, they may be let down by the lack of depth compared to Franz’s brilliantly written story.
The player will spend the majority of their time in group instances. This is where most of the questing and looting occurs, and can be played either alone or with a group. The dungeons start off being linear paths through to a boss enemy, but in the mid-level range start to expand, with multiple paths and progressively more difficult enemies. However, the learning curve of the game is very clever, where the player will run the early level dungeons multiple times to help them grasp the basics, and even some advanced points of the combat. By the time the dungeons base difficulty starts to ramp up, the player will have learned all the basics of their character and will be well equipped for whatever happens.
One feature I really enjoyed was the ability to pick the difficulty of a dungeon before entry. This means that the player can adjust to their own personal performance. For the really brave of heart, there’s blood difficulty, which requires a group in most cases simply due to the severe advantage that the enemies gain. The game shines here especially, when every encounter can and in most cases will result in imminent death for the party, which really keeps you on your toes. The hardest difficulty dungeons and end-level raid content really makes the gameplay shine, as it is here that the character system seems right, and really brings skill to the forefront.
The only issue I really have is the control scheme. Rather than have a number based system, (abilities tied to 1-2-3-4 etc), the game ties the abilities to the keys around WASD, which in the more intensive fights leads to some really awkward hand positioning. Playing with a gamepad is an option, but the controls are still pretty bad given the versatility of a controller, and you’ll still need the mouse for menu and inventory screens. Playing with the keyboard isn’t all bad, but it takes time to get used to, so rebinding might be a priority for the less patient gamer.
The atmosphere of Rusty Hearts is nothing short of brilliant, as it constantly surprises with the unique and varied settings in late game content. The earlier missions will have you running through what seems to be the same sewer for several hours, but the later missions really see the palette explode. The music is excellent also, and deserves a special mention. It really reflects the overall tone, and coupled with the graphics, expresses the anime style of the game to near perfection. The combat also looks beautiful, as the transition between frames during animation is flawless. The result is fluidity during even the most hectic encounters, and with four players button mashing through a group of enemies, it just looks stunning.
And the verdict is?
Overall, Rusty Hearts doesn’t lie to the player. It is still an MMORPG, there is still a grind, even if it IS cleverly disguised. The in game guild system and PVP combat will serve to entertain those more suited to the multiplayer aspects, but even for the lone soldier Rusty Heart delivers an incredible anime story in an above average beat ‘em up game, and comes heartily recommended.
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