|1. Easy to pick up and play a run with numerous build styles and missions.
|2. Every new item is an inventory managing puzzle.
|3. Very satisfying game loop that will keep you coming back.
You know your one friend that has those weird ideas that when you first hear them, you’re like “I don’t know…” but then after the idea sinks in for a few hours you’re like “Maybe that’s not a bad idea”? Then you keep thinking about it and by the end of the night, you decide to follow along with their weird idea, only to realize that their idea was pure genius and you had a great time.
Backpack Hero is that friend.
Save Your Mother, Save the Town
Backpack Hero is a rogue-lite, dungeon crawler, inventory management game that is so much deeper than it appears on its surface. You begin as a rat with a backpack, a missing mother, and a town in ruins.
There is a dangerous mine conveniently located right next to the town. In that mine is your mother, other missing people from your town, and all the valuable resources that you will need to build your town back up. There are also plenty of enemies that don’t want you there.
Naturally, there is no place you would rather be.
So now for the fun part. You and your magic backpack go into a mine with the goal of getting as deep as possible. Each journey starts with a small grid-based backpack and a few weapons and/or items. In the mine, you move around a procedurally generated map that leads you across various events, shops, and enemies. You fight enemies with the items in your backpack in turn-based battles. Gain some XP and some new items and move on. The mines are broken up into biomes, each with its own themes and bosses.
Sounds simple right? It’s not.
XP leads to leveling up and lets you add more grid boxes to your backpack. This allows you to carry more items and weapons that you loot from enemies and can get from shops or events. With the larger backpack, you also get room to arrange your items better. While sounding simple, this is the deepest mechanic in the game. Item placement quickly becomes very important.
Synergies and Similar Systems
Some items have synergies with other items so you will want to make sure they are next to each other. Other items get bonuses if they are in the top row. Some weapons are stronger if they have empty slots to the right of them. Some items are heavy and sink to the bottom and some are light and rise to the top. Very quickly you learn that the way you expand your backpack is just as important as the items in your backpack because most items have certain locations that benefit you much better than others.
Mastery of this mechanic is why you are the Backpack Hero.
There is also the element of bringing back resources to your town to help rebuild it. This allows you to build buildings that allow you to get better items that allow you to get deeper in the mines. The deeper you go, the better loot you get. The better loot you get, the more you can build up your town. The more you build up your town, the better loot you can get. Successful game loop achieved.
Backpack Hero retails for $19.99 in the US Nintendo eShop. If you see a game like this and are hesitant, you may want to wait for a sale. I’d say $15 dollars would be the sweet spot. If you are a fan of various styles of rogue-lites and definitely if you’ve played Dicey Dungeons and thought I’d like more of that but with a stronger dungeon crawler aesthetic and hub world RPG mechanics, you are likely to find a worthy time here with many hours of gameplay enjoyment.
Whether you're passively playing while watching that show your partner is obsessed with or getting in a quick run before going to sleep, Backpack Hero has your back (waka waka). This game went from just above zero during the IndieWorld presentation to Hero on my Switch. It looks simple on the surface, but it is so much deeper, just like the mine that you can’t seem to stay out of.
If you are looking for a simple RPG where every new item is its own puzzle to figure out how to store in your backpack and that is relaxing but doesn’t qualify for the standard definition of a cozy game, this one may scratch that itch. Seriously, it’s really good.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for “one more run”.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
|November 14, 2023
|E for Everyone
|Number of Players:
|Switch (Reviewed), Steam, itch.io
|How Long to Beat:
|Recommended for fans of:
|Rogue-lite Mechanics, Animal Protagonists, and Inventory Management
Nugget Humanperson is a veteran of the first console war, who now lives a life of peace between the consoles. She is also a weirdo and is probably doing something weird right now as you read this.