Shoot, die, and repeat in CyberHeroes Arena DX.
So, Vampire Survivors sure has a lot to answer for doesn’t it? It popularised the one-stick shooter genre pretty much single-handed, and became the poster child for a less-is-more approach to gameplay. And of course, it spawned a swathe of imitators all looking to cash in. The thing is though, Vampire Survivors was pretty much perfect, combining a simple gameplay style backed up by a huge depth of different builds, with enormous amounts of unlockable content, an interesting world of lore, and an utterly gorgeous presentation. Oh, and it’s cheap as hell too. It’s a tough act to follow, and CyberHeroes Arena DX is one of those brave souls going toe-to-toe with the vamp champ.
CyberHeroes Arena DX understands the mechanics of the genre leader, in that you simply move your character around the area whilst they automatically fire weapons. Enemies spawn in and move towards you, intent on your death. In that regard, this game is functional. Movement is snappy enough and enemies die in quick succession to your devastating weaponry, but you are still pretty vulnerable should foes get too close. Careful movement is key to survival and success.
Where this differs though, is that you play in short 15–90 second levels, before taking the money you earn through kills and completing tasks to buy new upgrades and weapons. Upgrades change your stats, which are pretty generic, like health, armour, and crit chance. Weapons are split into different categories, like fire and energy, and once you’ve bought all of that type, you unlock an extra bonus to your stats. You’ll only get the choice of three to buy at a time, and you can only get a maximum of twelve weapons, so you’ll want to pick carefully, especially if you want those extra bonuses. After eighteen stages you win, but death along the way will reset you back to the start.
As I say, mechanically this is a fine game, but it really is lacking in anything beyond that. The characters you can unlock have different starting stats but don’t really feel all that different, and whilst it’s nice to unlock them as you play, you’ll have them all available within about an hour of playing and all the weapons and upgrades are available right from the start. The weapons do act different to each other, which is nice enough, but the upgrades are pretty uninteresting and simply add a bit to one stat or another. There are a few different enemies, but you’ll see them all in a single run with nothing new to see in subsequent attempts.
On top of everything else, CyberHeroes Arena DX is really easy. Within 45 minutes of loading up the game for the first time I had completed all 18 stages, unlocked six of the eight characters, and tried out well over half of the weapons. With no other levels, no story to unpick, and nothing actually different to experience beyond what is a fairly shallow experience. When compared to Vampire Survivors, and that is a fair comparison to make, this is a really underwhelming package, coming in at a higher price too.
The visuals in the menus are nice enough, but they don’t do well once you get into the game. The arenas are barren, with bland background art that some characters and enemies blend in with to the point of obscurity. The enemy designs themselves are nice enough, but many lack a coherent art style, whilst others have received far more work on their animation than others. There’s a single music track that you’ll hear in every stage, and sound effects are incredibly lacklustre if you manage to hear them at all. I suppose if you’re an achievement-hunting type you might like that you can unlock everything in about an hour.
CyberHeroes Arena DX is a functional Vampire Survivors clone that lacks any of its soul. No story, limited progression, and a single repeating stage to play over and over doesn’t really make this a worthwhile alternative to the champ. It’s not bad as such, but there’s so much more on offer in the alternative that there’s not a lot of point in going for this beyond the achievements. You’ll power this one down within the hour.
CyberHeroes Arena DX is available now on Xbox, PlayStation, PC, and Nintendo Switch.