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Video Game / Has-Been Heroes

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Has Been Heroes is a lane-based roguelike Strategy Game that tasks players with fighting hordes of The Undead to take the twin princesses to school. It was released in 2017 for Steam, PS4 and the Nintendo Switch. The game was released by Frozenbyte, who also made the Trine series.

Each run has the player navigate through a series of areas, fighting The Undead as they do so. The idea of combat is to match the number of hits a hero can dish out to the amount of Stamina an enemy has. When this happens, the enemy can be attacked to deal damage and is sent to the back of the lane. Hitting too many times will deal reduced damage and only knock the enemy back a short way. Along the way, heroes can spend gold on items and spells, or find treasure chests which can carry useful loot.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Some skeletons are active explosives and run at the heroes, with the subsequent detonation dealing damage or freezing them. This can be used to your advantage, however, since other enemies are just as vulnerable to these explosions as you.
    • There's one "Summon Elemental Bomb" spell for each element, which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin, but unlike bomb skeletons, these bombs cannot hurt you.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game takes place in a medieval setting, but one of your allies can be a wrestler or a robot. In addition, some of the items you find include defibrillators and cell phones.
    • Favian's second form has him wielding an electric guitar, of all things.
  • An Ice Person: Ice spells freeze targets, allowing hits to bypass the Stamina meter. When applied to a hero, this can end very badly, as it keeps the hero from casting spells, attacking or even changing lanes.
    • Zakwas also specializes in these types of spells, always starting with one.
  • Area of Effect: Many, many spells can do this. There are even bonuses that increase this range significantly.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Some Dark spells eat up so much health per use that it can be very risky to use them, assuming they can be used at all.
  • Badass Grandpa: Crux and Metacles both; despite being past their prime, they can still kick ass to an extent.
  • Better Than a Bare Bulb: Many characters lampshade various occurrences throughout gameplay, Zakwas especially
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  • BFS: Crux wields one. Except in his third form, where he wields an axe.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Sure, later skeletons could be wielding disco balls or rolling pins, but these skeletons are actually more threatening than the more serious ones that came before them.
    • Many unlockable forms will have your heroes wearing silly costumes but they are far more effective than their baseline variants.
  • Big Bad: The Great Ghoul, who plans to use his army of evil to Take Over the World.
  • Boring, but Practical: Non-elemental buffs such as Quickstrike are this. Sure, they aren't flashy but they'll get the job done better than most spells.
  • Blow You Away: Any given Wind spell is capable of this to some degree. Roho also always starts with a wind spell.
  • Break Meter: Almost every enemy has a specific amount of hits it can take before it starts taking damage, known as Stamina. Reducing this number to exactly zero is key to maximizing damage and knockback from attacks.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Any given Dark spell will do this based on how long the original spell takes to charge note . Due to this, some of them fall into Useless Useful Spell territory as the character that holds them may not have enough health to cast it in the first place or will put them in a near-death situation if they do.
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  • Charm Person: Available as a spell. The Aspect of Pandemonium can do this as well, but that's not to say it's going to affect a hero.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: All bosses are immune to Fear and Charmed, and many are immune to Frozen.
  • Critical Status Buff: A good deal of the items you pick up can do this, with the effect being anything from increasing damage output to decreasing damage received.
  • Damage Over Time: The Fire and Poison statuses can deal a small amount of damage every second or so and can spread easily. Certain spells can hit several times, as well.
  • Early Game Hell: Before you have access to elemental spells and better heroes, you're stuck with non-elemental spells that lack the ability to deal damage, access to items is very limited and only two of your characters are capable of dealing more than Scratch Damage.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Any given hero can only get stronger by picking up items and spells, no matter how many skeletons they kill. New variants and weapons can be unlocked as well, further increasing how powerful heroes are.
  • Excuse Plot: You have three heroes. Get the princesses to school.
  • Friendly Fireproof: Averted. You can cast offensive spells on your own characters which can easily result in Yet Another Stupid Death. However, this can be exploited in some cases, such as thawing out a frozen hero with a fireball.
  • Gradual Regeneration: In true roguelike fashion, heroes will naturally heal over time, with some items increasing this rate of healing. Favian specializes in this and significantly increases the rate at which characters heal so long as he's in the party.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Locked chests can only be opened with keys that can be purchased from locksmiths, sometimes found inside other chests (including locked ones), and rarely dropped by enemies. Any given key has one use, though the Master Key will give you an endless supply of them.
  • Joke Item: The Enlarged Sandwich from the expansion, which supplies a minor health bonus alongside a pitiful regeneration boost. Many other items unlocked beforehand can provide you with superior effects.
  • Making a Splash: Water spells soak the enemies they hit and tend to leave puddles, both of which can be combined with other spells for interesting effects.
    • Favian specializes in these and starts every run with one. Unless you use his Young form.
  • Macrogame: Every time you finish a run, losing or otherwise, any souls you collected are given to the Gatekeeper, which are exchanged for better items and more spells to find in later runs.
    • In addition, every time you kill an elemental Ghoul, you unlock a new hero and a slew of new items.
  • Man on Fire: Burning, which does Damage Over Time and can be doused with Water spells. In addition, this condition can be spread very easily with Wind spells.
  • Money for Nothing: Enemies in the Underworld, including the Great Ghoul himself, drop quite a bit of gold, but there's not a single vendor down there to spend any of it on.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: After you reach the end of the City for the first time, the Great Ghoul steals the souls of the Princesses and locks them away in a chest amidst a sea of identical chests that must be opened one at a time.
  • Nintendo Hard: The game can easily veer into this territory, especially in the early game.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: If you attempt to cross back over a path you've already taken and don't have candles, your heroes will get lost in the darkness and die, ending the run.
  • No-Sell: If an enemy has an elemental immunity, any spell of the same element will have no effect on them at all.
    • Subverted with Fear immunity, as the damage from the spell will still go through, just not the Fear status.
    • The heroes can use this themselves with the Divine Intervention spell, which also clears any status ailments.
  • Not Completely Useless: The expansion-exclusive Tinfoil Hat item, which provides immunity to Fear and Charmed. Being immune to Charmed is especially useful against the Aspect of Pandemonium, who is the only enemy in the game capable of Charming a hero.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Each hero you unlock is usually superior to the previous one. Variants are this as well, typically outdoing their previous forms almost entirely.
  • Petting Zoo People: One member of the Epic Band of Heroes is Kedi, an anthropomorphic tiger.
  • Projectile Spell: Too many to count. Slot bonuses can increase the number of projectiles launched or make them hit additional targets.
  • Playing with Fire: Fire spells allow heroes to set enemies aflame, or can be used to thaw a frozen hero.
    • Kedi specializes in these and always starts a run with one.
  • Poisonous Person: Poison spells deal Damage Over Time and can be spread with Lightning spells.
    • Khar always starts with a Poison spell and is always immune to poison.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: The Epic Band of Heroes fell apart long before the game takes place; a part of the game is recovering the souls of the lost heroes, which were stolen by the Great Ghoul.
  • Random Drop Booster: Several expansion items, such as the Survival Guide, Silver Lamp and Rusty Key, will drastically increase your chances of finding Candles and Keys from enemies and chests.
  • Random Effect Spell: Chaos Bolt, a later elemental spell, deals a random amount of damage and casts a random elemental ailment to the target.
  • Resurrective Immortality: How the game's roguelike elements are justified in game. Any time your heroes die, the Gatekeeper revives them at the cost of all the experience and loot you earned that run (except for Souls).
  • Robot Buddy: Roho, the sixth character unlocked, is this, with strong implications that it has a mind of its own.
  • Roguelike: Each run has a randomly generated set of stages, with shops (and their items), chests, battles, and camps placed randomly along the way. If you die, your run ends and you'll have to try again.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The twin princesses collect any gold, keys, candles, and souls that drop during combat. They can also use their soul orbs to cast any spell a hero has for free, even if it's on cooldown.
  • Shock and Awe: Lightning spells can be used for this purpose, which arc between enemies. Usually, they have a wide amount of damage they can deal. Soaked enemies take additional damage from Lightning spells, as well.
    • Florencio specializes in these and starts with a Lightning spell every run.
  • Sixth Ranger: Tam and the princesses are this. Nemesis and Thanatos are this, too, when you unlock them.
  • Skeleton Key: The Master Key can be purchased from some locksmiths, but it's one of the most expensive items in the game.
  • Stock RPG Spells: Many can be unlocked and later found, with most of them dealing in the below Standard Status Effects, though there are others.
  • Standard Status Effects: Burning, poisoned, fear, frozen and charmed.
  • Stat Sticks: Some of the items you run across are weapons, but they're only carried for their stat values. Examples include the Wand of the Nameless, the Berserker's Spear, and the Ritual Dagger.
  • Status Buff: Many non-elemental spells do things along these lines. Doublestrike doubles the number of hits a hero will dish out with their next attack, for example.
  • Stink Bomb: One of the Poison spells is named this, applying a poisonous aura to an enemy that will continuously poison all enemies within it for a brief period of time.
  • Stuck Items: When a hero picks up an item, they're stuck with it for the rest of the run with no way to give it to somebody else even if the item was unidentified. This can especially sting if the item is useless in the given character's hands, such as Metacles picking up the Whetstone.
    • This applies to spells, as well. Picking them up at the right time so as to put them over a slot bonus can make some spells very powerful.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: "Phobia" spells, such as Pyrophobia, will send enemies running, bringing any enemies they touch with them. If a hero is afflicted with fear, they will temporarily be incapable of doing anything, similar to being frozen.
  • Take Over the World: The Great Ghoul's ultimate goal.
  • The Team: The Epic Band of Heroes was this, though they get back together over the course of the game.
  • Trauma Inn: Camps randomly placed around the map can restore Stamina, health or both.
  • The Undead: What the heroes are up against.
  • Unknown Item Identification: Par the course for a roguelike, any spell or item must be picked up once to know its name and effects. However, once you identify an item it's tied to your save; you never have to identify it again and its effects will be listed before you pick it up.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Some Dark spells can consume more health than a hero might have, rendering them unusable until later in the run.
    • Draining Wind fits this trope to a T. It deals exactly 9 points of damage and a tiny bit of knockback with a 60-second cooldown, in a game where enemy health and damage numbers deal in the hundreds and thousands, making this specific effect very impractical. Even if you do manage to get a kill with it, all it does is restore one point of the caster's Stamina... which may not mean anything if they're full up.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Underworld, where the Great Ghoul's operations take place.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: If a hero dies, that's your run done. Considering that this is a Roguelike, you can expect this to happen a lot.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After reaching the end of the City for the first time, the Great Ghoul steals the souls of the princesses, forcing the heroes to find them in a hoard of identical chests, all of which he protects.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: The Great Ghoul makes his army by corrupting the souls he collects.
    • The princesses utilize a heroic version of this, returning the corrupted souls to the Gatekeeper.


Example of: