Pizza Hero is Vampire Survivors with toppings as upgrades, and it’s free on Steam for a limited time

As a quick glance at my Papa John’s account will tell you, I’ve enough of an addictive personality that I’ve consciously avoided Vampire Survivors and its -likes, in the fear that the carefully balanced professionalisation of my dedicated goblin lifestyle will tip over the edge. As such, I don’t have enough experience to tell you whether the currently free Pizza Hero is an especially interesting or innovative riff on the formula. However, I am simple-minded enough to enjoy the epic bacon 1.5 humour of a sentient pizza slice with a dog for a companion upgrading itself one topping at a time. This action roguelike reeks of concentrated internet like a week old-slice nestled amidst a stack of free AOL disks. But! It’s cute and fun and free, and that’s enough for me.

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The idea behind this sort of thing is that they’re semi-idle games that still allow a fair amount of strategy in how you progress. Here, that means that the actual shooting is done automatically, but you do the dodging and dashing, as well as picking periodic upgrades. The first one I get let’s my slice shoot homing mushrooms, and my second is bouncing anchovies. Your good boy companion collects dropped resources for you, and you get a good boy jingle every time you level up. There’s an observation about pavlovian training here but, shut up, I’m a pizza! Whoo!

You’re offered three upgrades per level, but you can use one of a limited pool of dice throws to roll a fresh set if you don’t fancy any of them. Say, if you’re spiritually opposed to ranch on pizza. UK folk, have you had ranch before? I found a vegan one last year so good that I took some to my mum’s for Christmas and we started collectively referring to it as ‘danger sauce’. There was no christmas pizza, unfortunately, but if there was I would have drowned it.

Here, the ranch acts as that SHMUP classic, a little floating companion gun. This is to say that while Pizza Hero is both free and unserious about itself, it doesn’t strike me as at all low-effort – It’s actually very imaginative and thoughtful with its joyous nonsense. If you’d prefer something equally free but a bit moodier, however, Berlin nightclub-hopping tactics game All Walls Must Fall is free on Steam too. I actually had a pizza slice in a Berlin nightclub once after not eating for about twenty hours once, and I can confidently rank the experience as the closest I’ve come to gently stroking the face of god.

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