Review – UnderHero (PS4)

Walking into UnderHero with zero expectations was probably the best choice I’ve made all year. Yes, it may only be the end of February, but this still stands. UnderHero is a 2D platformer with combat similar to that of the original Paper Mario games. Actually, there’s a lot of things in this that are like the original Paper Mario games, and we will touch on those.┬áIn UnderHero, the player takes control of the bad guy who, although ridiculed for his original plan, manages to kill the hero of the story just before he shows up and slays the evil Mr. Stitches. After claiming the hero’s talking, shapeshifting sword named Elizabeth, Mr. Stitches has the masked “protagonist” (?) return the three gems that were collected from the bosses in the world to their rightful owners.

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Everyone wants to see a fight at a party.

The story to UnderHero is very tongue-in-cheek, showcasing what happens behind the scenes while the hero is typically out doing whatever the hero does. The main difference is, since the hero died, there’s no one to stop the big boss anymore, meaning they can take over the world. You’re a bad guy though; you like treasure, and all it takes for you to betray the trust of Mr. Stitches is the promise of his treasure from Elizabeth. Following the order of Mr. Stitches, you head off to return the stones to the bosses. Then beat the bosses. And leave them their stones anyways.

As such, it’s time to learn how to fight. Much like Paper Mario, you have a basic attack and a hammer attack, the difference being that you don’t jump on enemies, you use a sword instead. Attacks are also not turned-based the way they are in Paper Mario, instead being stamina based/timed, making it more similar to something like the later Final Fantasy games.

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The game will “subtly” warn you not to jump into certain pits.

Until you attack an enemy, you’re actually still on the same team. You can talk to them and they’ll tell you things that may or may not be useful. You can pay them off so you can walk past them without a fight. You can simply just kill them as well. When you level up, you get a nice jolly jingle, confetti shoots out of nowhere and you’re given an option to upgrade health, attack power, or stamina. Did I mention this game reminded me of Paper Mario?

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“I was playing hide and seek with the princess”.

The overworld is a lot of fun, with big areas that require a fair amount of exploring if you want to find all the upgrades from the chests and collect all the money. Come the second world, you’ll collect your first “friend” who will help you explore. Before every boss, you’ll also meet Puzzleman, who will force you into “pointless minigames” because that’s what happens when you’re a hero. Yes, UnderHero is actually THAT aware of how much it makes fun of Paper Mario. You’ll also find cassettes as you travel around, these let you change the music that plays in the save stations. The music throughout UnderHero is incredibly infectious. Get ready to have some of these songs stuck in your head.

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This screen looks very familiar…

Honestly, if you’ve been waiting for a new Paper Mario game, and you’re not that interested in playing Bug Fables on a PC, UnderHero is a must-have. The characters are very well written. I’m still unsure if I love Mr. Stitches or hate him at this point. Paper Castle have found a way to make you play minigames that “heroes have to play”, while making fun of the fact that this is something that other games will make you do. If you’re looking for the similarities, almost everything out of UnderHero will feel like a jab at other games while still feeling like a breath of fresh air. Given how well the game plays, it will be a definite Switch pick up as well.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Everything looks detailed, there are so many things to see even in the background. Like Mr. Stitches’ teddy bear that hides somewhere

Gameplay: 9.5

While being very similar to other games, UnderHero also has its own spin on everything to make it feel fresh.

Sound: 9.0

Earworms. Earworms everywhere. Get ready to have some of these songs stuck in your head.

Fun Factor: 9.5

By mixing Paper Mario‘s RPG mechanics with the simplicity of 2D platformers, UnderHero is unique and an absolute blast of a game.

Final Verdict: 9.0

UnderHero is available now on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PlayStation 4.

A copy of UnderHero was provided by the publisher.