Apex Heroines Review: Not Exactly an Apex Predator

by David Sanchez April 27, 2024 @ 8:34 am

Apex Heroines Characters

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

Fast-paced hack-and-slash action games are great when done right. Even if they’re a little mindless sometimes, they can still be a lot of fun when you just need to sit back, switch off your brain for a while, and mash away on some controller buttons. Apex Heroines is a solid dose of exactly that, though some design choices leave a bit to be desired and make for a game that’s just above average, but probably still worth it if you dig its brand of action.

An Interesting World That Just Falls Short

Apex Heroines Gameplay

Apex Heroines is set in a futuristic world, and though it has some sci-fi influence, the story isn’t all that deep. In fact, it’s quite bare-bones, which is fine, but you might be left hoping there would’ve been a bit more lore and backstory.

The villainous Ignis is building an army of super-soldiers, and — you guessed it — you have to stop him. You’re the newest recruit in a league of heroines that’s meant to maintain peace and keep super-soldier-building bad guys under control. And that’s about it as far as plot details go. It’s your average stop-the-bad-guy stuff, which is fine. Hey, it’s worked for Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog for decades, right?

As the newest recruit, you’re ready to be broken in and take down the forces of evil. Unfortunately, the rest of your crew has been captured by Ignis, so before you can take him down, you need to rescue your new pals. At first, you can only play as Aurora. Before you can play as any of the other characters, you’ll have to rescue them all. This is fine, except you need to rescue all of them before you can even begin choosing any one of them. It would’ve been cool if you could just swap characters as you rescued them.

The game also does this weird thing where you need to fight each of the characters you’re saving before they rejoin your group. It’s not like they’re under any sort of mind control, either. You’ll literally get to them, and they’ll say something stupid like, “We must disarm this bomb… by fighting each other first!” It makes absolutely no sense, and it’s, well, it’s dumb as hell.

Fast Combat That Works Well

Apex Heroines Nintendo Switch

There are no major bells and whistles in Apex Heroines. What you see is what you get: arcade-like combat that’s fast-paced, fun, and even a little cathartic. The gameplay is snappy, and building combos is pretty easy, as is performing special moves that rely on a meter that’s built up over time. The game isn’t too daunting as far as its difficulty goes, but if you’re not careful, you’ll definitely find yourself overwhelmed by breakdancing enemies and projectile-shooting robots.

If you’re playing as Aurora, you’ll get the opportunity to switch between different weapons including a katana, greatsword, spear, giant hammer, and dual blades whenever you come across them as pick-ups in certain areas. These all function a bit differently, so you’ll likely have your favorites. They make for a nice, albeit minor, change of pace, and they give you access to different special abilities. I enjoyed swapping weapons pretty much every time I was given the option because it made for a fun shift in my combat approach.

There’s not really much else to say about the combat in Apex Heroines. Sure, it’s fun, but it’s so simple that it’s hard to describe in great length. At the very least, it’s both functional and fun. Things can get frustrating if you’re caught between multiple enemies as they perform moves that make them invincible. When they start delivering their combos, you’re likely to get stuck absorbing a ton of damage. Even then, the game isn’t too punishing, and if your health depletes completely, you’ll be sent back to the nearest checkpoint if you have a continue stored up.

Boss battles in Apex Heroines are well-designed and have a nice old school vibe to them. You’ll wait for an opening to run in and hack away at the game’s bigger baddies. Their attacks can be tricky, and they make for a nice challenge. The bosses in the second half of the game after you’ve rescued all of the heroines are especially a joy to battle against.

Speaking of the second half of Apex Heroines, aside from the entertaining boss battles, it’s these levels where the game fell off for me. While the first several stages were cool and featured an almost cyberpunk look, the later levels were simple, generic, grid-based arenas. Seeing identical scenery for the duration of the game can be a bit of a bummer, and it makes you realize how same-y the whole thing is. The combat is still okay, but it all becomes somewhat mundane in the later half.

Outside of the main missions, you can also hang out at your base and purchase upgrades like extra health and ability slots using coins dropped by enemies. There are also bonus challenges to tackle if you’re looking to squeeze as much out of the game as you can. These include taking on a set number of enemies and using a single weapon in special stages. The bonus stages and challenges are okay, but they begin to feel shallow and repetitive after a while, and they’re hardly interesting to play through.

Not Quite an Apex Legend

Apex Heroines Switch Gameplay

The look of Apex Heroines is pretty solid aside from the character models. The playable characters, Ignis, and the enemies all look like generic models you’d find in a free-to-play mobile game being advertised on X. The level designs, on the other hand, are pretty great — in the first half of the game anyway. And the sound design is just sort of there, with forgettable music, moans, and groans. A little voice acting would’ve been nice, but sadly, it’s absent here.

At $25, the asking price for Apex Heroines is a little steep given the simplistic combat and less-than-stellar late game. For what it’s worth, the game is definitely entertaining, even if it is on the shorter side at about four or five hours for the main campaign. As such, I’d recommend Apex Heroines to fans of hack-and-slash arcade action games, but even then, I’d suggest waiting for a sale. The game is fine, but it’s definitely not better than something more polished like, say, No More Heroes or Bayonetta.

Score: 6 out of 10

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