Slime Heroes is a Soulslike adventure for kids, and that works somehow

One of gaming's most hardcore genres just got friendlier.


There’s a lot of untapped value in taking popular genre conventions in gaming and making them more family-friendly. Minecraft has been killing it lately with its Legends and Dungeons brands, and so has LEGO Fortnite to a lesser extent. All that said, I never would have expected to see a Soulslike game doing something similar. Slime Heroes caught me by surprise, and not only does it work, it has the potential to go above and beyond.

Basic combat in Slime Heroes
Source: Whitethorn Games

I got about a half an hour of hands-on time with Slime Heroes at PAX East, playing on my own to get a taste of what the game’s about. It’s a co-op game though, and with that in mind I believe I can see the vision. Playing alone was fun, but picturing playing Slime Heroes at home with my kid has me the most excited. That’s because the gameplay loop is familiar territory for me, but dialed back in a way that makes sense for a younger, less skilled audience. Or ideally, a combination of the two.

But it wasn’t just the “easier Soulslike” thing that made Slime Heroes appealing. It has its own juice, or in this case I guess goo would be more accurate. The combat mechanics have a solid foundation of their own, and a customizable skill system offers a level of depth that feels similar to something like The Binding of Isaac meets Kirby 64. Plenty of exploration and puzzles keep the momentum going, but I think the most fun to be had will come from the skills.

Skills in action in Slime Heroes
Source: Whitethorn Games

As you fight enemies, they’ll drop skills which populate a pool. You have multiple skill slots, and each slot has two smaller, modifier slots. The way you slot skill drops into these slots can dramatically alter what actually happens when you press the button. You can combine multiple skills along with elemental modifiers to get all kinds of results, such as turning a straightforward projectile into a sort of orbiting ball of lightning you can call for situational protection. Doubling up skills can simply make the core skill stronger, so you can still keep the ones you like without locking yourself out of engagement.

During my time with the game I only had a small collection, but within that small set of options I had a surprising quantity of outcomes. I can imagine things getting pretty wild once you get past the opening moments, and gain access to more and more skill drops. Co-op players share loot too, so the only limitation is how much you’re willing to tinker. Luckily, the basic weapon combat feels great too, so even if you don’t have the bandwidth for skill tinkering, you can still have a good time.

There’s also a lot of fun customization for the slimes themselves! When you start a new game you get to choose your little weirdo’s color, eyes, and mouth. As you play you can also find hats, which both act as armor and additional goofy ways to curate your look. For a Dragon Quest sicko like me the default blue and vacant smile combination was crucial, but there are plenty other options to play around with. Having a good time is definitely the vibe here.

Just a slime hanging out in Slime Heroes
Source: Whitethorn Games

I barely got any time with Slime Heroes, but like I said before, I can see the vision. Soulslike has been known as a hardcore, super-challenging genre ever since it was a thing. But just by pumping the breaks a little bit, making everything cute, and emphasizing co-op, I can see the fundamentals of what makes those games appealing, translating well to something easier and kid-friendly. I’m looking forward to actually putting those feelings to the test, although without a release date, the wait could be longer than I want. But that’s a good thing in its own way.

Slime Heroes will be available for the PC and Xbox Series X|S at a yet to be announced date. We were given hands-on time with an early build at PAX East for the purposes of this preview.

Contributing Editor

Lucas plays a lot of videogames. Sometimes he enjoys one. His favorites include Dragon Quest, SaGa, and Mystery Dungeon. He's far too rattled with ADHD to care about world-building lore but will get lost for days in essays about themes and characters. Holds a journalism degree, which makes conversations about Oxford Commas awkward to say the least. Not a trophy hunter but platinumed Sifu out of sheer spite and got 100 percent in Rondo of Blood because it rules. You can find him on Twitter @HokutoNoLucas being curmudgeonly about Square Enix discourse and occasionally saying positive things about Konami.

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