Frontier Hunter: Erza’s Wheel of Fortune is an Anime themed metroidvania that is currently in Early Access.
Picking up after Tower Hunter and departing from the grind-heavy rogue-lite formula, we have here a lovely and promising entry. It gives a strong vibe of being inspired by the critically acclaimed “Bloodstained – Ritual of the night” but adds its own flavor mostly with combat much better than not only in its sources of inspiration but worthy of an action game. The variety of weapons and techniques is an improvement over “Tower Hunter”. What I personally particularly liked about it is that both enemies and the player character actually react to being hit. Enemies (bosses included) don’t just act like brick walls when being hit, the impression that they are taking damage isn’t just represented by their HP bar decreasing, the heavy hits make even the toughest enemies’ reel.
The idea of metroidvanias with more complex and robust combat systems is one that appeals to me, and this is the niche this game is trying to cater to. There’s 3 playable characters that you can switch between on the fly, and even call fourth to assist during a brief period. Each character can hold 2 weapons and 2 spells at once and perform a variety of special moves using fighting game style inputs. You can launch enemies into the air for combos, cast spells mid attack, and so on. There’s a lot of variety here, but the game doesn’t push you to do any of it. Doing the cool stuff is up to the player, so if you’re one of those that call any game that does fast melee combat a “button masher”, then this might not be for you.
For the story, thankfully, you don’t have to play the original (Tower Hunter) to understand what’s going on, as that game is very light on story anyway. There is a LOT of Japanese cheese here, and the game doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Of course, the story doesn’t conclude in this build, but I don’t expect things to become much more interesting on the final release.
In terms of design, it’s a typical metroidvania that doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s put together nicely. Some clever puzzles are sprinkled in which is always refreshing. There’s a robust RPG element, with crafting and customization systems.
Visually, the game is gorgeous. Though sometimes, the background can play tricks on the eyes. More than once did I try to jump on something which looked like a surface to stand on, only to find out it’s in the background.
The soundtrack is nice alright but doesn’t seem to stand out much and starts repeating itself a little too quickly. I’m afraid that this is a step back from “Tower Hunter”, where the musical numbers felt longer. The voice acting fills in the gap though.
The main issue with this game so far is a general lack of polish. Problems registering inputs and collision, and occasional bugs and slowdowns. Hopefully all these issues are solved before the final release, but as of right now, there’s a “janky” feel to this game. It’s a nice game with cool ideas, but I can’t really recommend this over the more popular indie metroidvanias available. But if you have already played those, and the idea of a “character-action” metroidvania entices you, keep an eye out for this one.