I talked about being excited about Slay the Princess after PaxEast because of how unique it was. Another game that caught my attention at PaxEast was a game about a mouse and backpack. Now I pride myself on being good when it comes to managing my inventory when it comes to games. Putting that to the test is Backpack Hero, which is an inventory Roguelike game. Roguelikes might be my favorite genre in games so I was eager to see if Backpack Hero lives up the all-time great of the genre.
Let’s dive into it.
In Backpack Hero you play as Purse, a cute mouse who’s searching for her mother. As you find items and progress you discover more about the mystery of what happened to your mom.
While searching in the nearby dungeon for clues, Purse stumbles upon a Backpack, that expands in size as you level up. This backpack allows you to store weapons, potions, item buffs, and armor.
While the story isn’t going to leave a lasting mark, it’s serviceable enough and sets the scene well. I like the mystery elements and the characters are charming. There’s enough lore and story here that keep me engaged.
While exploring the procedurally generated dungeons, you place items in your backpack that determine your playstyle during that run. Some items add to your defense, others like swords and Maces grant you certain attacks, and then you have potions, throwables, and wearable items that do a variety of things. The combat is turn-based and you have action points you have to spend every turn.
Your backpack grows in size allowing you to fit more items as you deeper into the dungeon. Your backpack has allocated spaces and you have to strategically figure out how to place the items in the bag.
The other part of the equation is that there’s a town that you have to manage and grow. Think of the game Moonlighter and a bit of Cult of the Lamb and you got the general idea. Upgrading your town allows you to research new items to help you with your runs.
While you think that a game centered around town and inventory management would get old fast it’s actually the opposite. The gameplay loop is addicting and continuously adds new aspects.
The pixel art style is detailed in a cute and charming way. Even though there are life and death roguelike stakes, the developer Jaspel, manages to keep an adorable and light vibe overall.
Just when I thought I had seen all this game had to offer you are introduced to other playable characters that add new elements and playstyles to the gameplay. There’s a playable character that deals with magic, one where you have to manage your gear differently, and more that are introduced as you progress in the narrative. These characters add depth to the already layered gameplay.
While not that big of a deal, the game’s music leaves a lot to be desired. I found myself preferring to play the game on silent. There are a few songs in the soundtrack that plays over and over again.
Unfortunately I came across a few technical issues. I ran into a bug where my Manual saves didn’t register and I had to start the whole game over again. I was only a couple of hours into the main story, but it sucked having to restart the game from the very beginning again.
Overall/Should you Play Backpack Hero:
I’ve played a litany of rogue-like games, each different in their own way. Backpack Hero might take that cake for the most unique roguelike game that I’ve ever played. It’s a deckbuilder game, a city management game, a lite RPG, and a Roguelike all mixed in one. While I did run across a few issues like some bugs and its soundtrack, I found myself thoroughly enjoying Backpack Hero. Its charming aesthetic mixes delightful well with its unique premise to create a game that’s an easy recommendation to fans of the Roguelike genre.
Where Should Backpack Hero fit in your video game backlog:
Here at the ProNerd Report and on the Single Player Experience Podcast, we practice the 10 games backlog rule. In this practice, you log down 10 games, those games are gonna be your video game backlog. To be as productive as you possibly can be, we recommend that you only play three games at one time. One single player narrative game, one game that’s gonna be your chill and relaxed game, and another game that’s going to be your palate cleanser game, which is a game that you play when you’re not in the mood for your other narrative. When you complete or get tired of one game, it leaves the backlog list. Then you decide which new game is added to the list, and which game on the list advances to your active three games.
Backpack Hero – This is an interesting game that I would definitely recommend as a palette cleanser or chill and relax game to fans of the Roguelike genre. If that’s you then you should have this in your backlog.
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Reviewed on PC/Steam Deck