Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic (Xbox One) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 25.02.2017

Review for Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic  on Xbox One

Pixel graphical styles and roguelikes are getting tired. After the initial excitement, as indie developers drowned the market in 2D side-scrollers, old-school RPGs and pixel art, it has become apparent that actually, it's not always enough. Can this game change that and avoid falling into the same traps? Developed by The Bitfather, Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic aims to be a thrilling and funny throwback to 80s RPGs, which will be interesting ground for younger players. With it claiming to take you back to the time where TV tubes existed, let's see what's on offer.

Everything is randomised; well, everything bar the starting town! Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic has three stories: each begin with hard mode and work their way up from there. At the start of each campaign the player must construct a party out of the three heroes on offer. All of the heroes are randomised in terms of stats, looks, and personality. It may take time to decide which party is best, especially considering each character can be one of thirty available classes!

Being built on randomisation is no bad thing; the writing has a bizarre sense of humour that makes the randomised character traits pretty interesting. It's definitely the only RPG where a hero can be 'mildly aroused by pies'. Each character has unique strengths and weakness that can make building a party difficult, although a fighter, mage, and a healer is usually enough to get through a campaign.

Screenshot for Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic  on Xbox One

The random elements make for a great little system that introduces the game's zany humour and lets the player tailor their experience to an extent. Speaking of the random character traits, there are lots of interesting references found when chatting to various NPCs, such as nods to various works in pop culture, like Doctor Who, or the Lord of the Rings series. It's all very twee but much appreciated, it's part of the game's lifeblood and it's the biggest reason a lot of people will come back for more.

Gameplay is an interesting one. There are a few facilities to make use of in town, most importantly a church where the party can heal, buy potions, and revive dead heroes which becomes crucial after trying out missions. Missions play out in two phases, the first of which is to travel to a dungeon. During travel the player will have two or three encounters with NPCs which can either be interacted with or ignored. After arriving at each dungeon, there are several rooms one after the other that are either battles or treasure rooms.

Screenshot for Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic  on Xbox One

Battling is a turn based affair. Each character in the party has two slots for attacks and two for skills. Once picked they use the chosen ability and then the enemy takes their turn. The following turn, the last character who acted will be unavailable to use, meaning another character must be chosen for action. This stops stronger attacks being spammable, but the enemies lack that same restriction, meaning the overall feel can be quite cheap sometimes, although it does keep players on their toes.

Death is permanent for the duration of a dungeon, but it can be undone after a mission is complete, raising the tension during battles. This effect is felt more than usual as there's a very difficult, steep learning curve and many adventurers will be lost while learning how to balance the characters. There is also an archive detailing the defeated teams that has which can be a unique novelty, especially after losing more than one full group.

Screenshot for Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic  on Xbox One

Supporting all those systems is a glorious soundtrack and some very nice pixel art graphics, setting it apart from the other tired pixel art styles. The overall aesthetic and the atmosphere very much makes the game shine. The style supports the humour, and eradicates all possibilities of it running badly, so technologically it's sound and overall presentation are some of the higher points. It does have some weak points in terms of its replay value, dangerously steep difficulty curve, and repetitive comedic writing, but there's definitely a lot to love about the presentation.

Screenshot for Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic  on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Overall Pixel Heroes: Pixel Heroes: Byte & Magic is an interesting game. It brings a very familiar concept to the table and then randomises its attributes until it becomes something different, a less generic RPG with significantly increased difficulty. Its sense of humour, and fun systems and visuals make it well worth picking up for anyone in the market for a turn based RPG, or those who enjoy a bit of traditional tabletop dungeon crawling. For most, the jokes will mostly hit and will stave off the boredom factor, but for those that don't like referential humour, maybe steer clear of this title.

Developer

The Bitfather

Publisher

Headup

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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