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What if Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and the arcade classic Gauntlet were mixed together into one zombie slaying romp? The concept alone would probably win over a decent amount of fans hungry for another old school hack and slash, but fortunately, Second Chance Heroes [$0.99] does a whole lot of things right to help move it out of a niche category and more into the forefront. Most notably, it's free-to-play -- the good kind.

Although it doesn't go to great lengths to explain how it's possible, Second Chance Heroes brings back various heroes and leaders from history to do battle with an impending zombie invasion. I'm sure you've heard of Blackbeard, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, and Leonardo da Vinci before, among many other prominent members of the cast. These aren't just boring carbon copies of people from history though, as Second Chance Heroes does a great job of making their own signature mark on each character (the short Napoleon riding a cannon is probably the funniest showing).

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The exaggerations usually involve ridiculous proportions for characters like Lincoln, or the ability to wield magical spells for Cleopatra. The differences between the historic figures is staggering, as practically all of them play completely different from one another. For instance, Lincoln will hack with his chainsaw, Cleopatra will shoot projectiles and fly around the board, and Leonardo da Vinci will sport advanced weaponry in a mech-suit. It's ridiculous, but fitting -- especially given the genre.

The visuals are about on par with a downloadable console game, which is impressive. Environments are sufficiently full of details, from fallen rubble to broken vending machines, and a meticulous amount of care was put into just about every facet of the graphical presentation. The detail extends to practically every enemy model in the game, as well as weapons, weapon effects, and the characters themselves. This could easily be ported to the PC or any number of consoles in a heartbeat.

Zombies aren't the only enemy in Second Chance Heroes either, as ghosts, mummies, and aliens also make an appearance. It helps keep things interesting and varied, so you're not fighting the same foe over and over. Most of them operate as cannon fodder to be clear, but the designs themselves are fun to look at, so long as you can stomach constant slashing.

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Control-wise, Second Chance Heroes definitely could have fallen apart at the seams given the large amount of on-screen buttons, but surprisingly it works better than it looks. It follows a simple virtual "twin thumbstick" principle, with movement on the left and aiming on the right. From there, you can flick your thumbs out to any one of the buttons on the side of each stick to use things like super moves, items, the dash ability, and interact with objects.

There generally aren't a whole lot of complicated puzzles or tactics involved outside of "kill everything in sight," so it works out. If I feel overwhelmed I can either dash out of a corner or spring my super attack, which gives me a decent amount of options to deal with any given problem, and alleviates some of the control concerns. Although it occasionally acts up due to the nature of cramming so many buttons into a small area (especially on phones), it works well enough for an arcade game.

If you're up for it, you can have at the game's nightmare-filled stages alone, or with up to two co-op partners online, which is a nice touch. Partners will all earn rewards together, and there's no real downside to playing with others -- especially since the difficulty isn't bumped in any noticeable manner. I did experience some lag every now and then, but it was playable, and a blast. In general, it's a ton of fun to just join in on a random game and rip some enemies up without any sort of communication needed.

So how does the IAP work? Well, you're granted access to Abraham Lincoln and Cleopatra right out of the gate. From there, you can either buy gold or earn it in-game by completed stages to earn more characters and upgrades. While some of the characters are a bit expensive, from my experience I could buy at least one character every two to three level runs. Considering you can beat the game entirely with the two free ones though, it never feels like the developer is withholding content. It's an extremely fair system, and I'm wondering how it'll work out in the long term.

If you've been itching to just kick back and rip apart some zombies, Second Chance Heroes is a great place to start. It doesn't hurt that it's free in its current incarnation, with online play, a decent amount of characters, and that it sports a stunning engine. Although it could use some small tweaks like controller support and better online play, games like these don't come around very often.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • sakara214ever

    The iap model of this game should define how Free games should be made in future.

  • Nick Smith

    " from my experience I could buy at least one character every two to three level runs."

    Seriously? I'm on level four with 25 coins and nothing purchased yet. How are you getting a character every two to three levels?

    • AJShadowz

      You obviously suck friend. I got 274 coins from level 1 alone.

      • AJShadowz

        My mistake, I meant to put 174 coins... But still!

      • IceMan7

        Yeah it won't update my coin amount

      • Nick Smith

        Uh you only get 160 bonus coins once from the first stage and then it forces you to spend it on revives, so no, you didn't actually get 174 coins. Did anybody actually play beyond the first stage or ever join multiplayer? I mean seriously here. The upfront 160 bonus coins fooled all of you just like in the forum thread.

      • IceMan7

        It actually fooled you quite well too because you originally posted the problem

      • IceMan7

        I encountered a glitch which stated I received coins after each level, I mistakingly believed this coupled with the review.

    • Jrec15

      Ok first off the reviewer is wrong on this point, and so are the people who replied to you. No worries as I had the same mistaken assumption when I first started playing. Coins are a premium currency. Players are not supposed to be given enough coins to buy all the characters and other extra content, that is where the developers plan to make their money. There are some coins given out at the start and from goals along the way, but that is it! I just don't think people should go into the game expecting anything different. You really do get a lot of content for free, but if you want some more of the (awesome) characters to mix up the experience that is where you will have to pay up. The dev's have been very clear that they are listening to feedback and may make changes to the system accordingly, but for now just know that the game is great! But don't expect to get many extra characters for free.

      • https://weheartit.com/cantst0pfallinginL0ve ⭐沛霖⭐㊗

        lol , that dude is ignoring u and all he cares is how come he didnt get everything for FREE , worthless low life.....

      • Nick Smith

        Why the childish insults? I pointed out an error in the review which this poster 100% backed me up on. I never once complained about not getting things for free, and I never ignored the guy who AGREES with me.(hint:check who the first person to upvote him was). Reading comprehension people

      • https://weheartit.com/cantst0pfallinginL0ve ⭐沛霖⭐㊗

        yea... my mistake , I got emotionally because the game fooled me on stage one , after that u no longer receive quest reward even if u replay the quest

  • Jake7905

    I've been having fun with this game, but not nearly as much fun as it would have been as a premium game. Though this is a good example of freemium done right, without timers and multiple currencies, a premium pay model would have elevated this game to greatness.

  • JJE McManus

    I thought I'd sworn off zombie games. But I guess I was wrong. Initially I grabbed it because of the multiplayer but honestly it's a passel of fun all by its lonesome. Sure I would have liked all the heroes to be unlocked solely via gameplay but at least in the early going it's no big thing. I'll try to hold out until I can afford Tessla at the least because, hey, who doesn't like lightning.
    Wouldn't have grabbed up this up for up front cash because of that zombie thing.

  • Pinkiepool

    The reviewer apparently didn't play the same game I did because there is no way you can buy a new character every two or three level runs.
    The coin bonuses you get for completing objectives are one time only.

    It is obvious that if you want more characters you are going to have to pay real cash which begs the question if the reviewer played more than the first level of this game before handing out 4.5 stars.

  • TheRybka

    Just an FYI, this is currently on Steam Greenlight. Go vote for it!

  • orangecan

    Unfortunately it runs like a dog on the touch 5th gen. Shame quite liked the idea of it but it's almost unplayable

  • Pete Martell

    Played 2 games online co-op, the online is what makes this game and while I had some fun the IAP and grind still made me uninstall it.

    Before you call me cheap I would gladly pay 10 perhaps even 15 upfront without all that stuff. I buy a ton of stuff if I think it's worth it.

    Sorry devs, but I wish you luck, game is good for sure, I just refuse to play freemium games.

    I do wonder though, why not offer everything for let's say 15 dollars as a "full game" unlock.

    You would sway me over and still have a f2p title, or is it not worth it because you miss out on candy crush money??

Second Chance Heroes Reviewed by Chris Carter on . Rating: 4.5