Kongregate games always seem to be ahead of the curve regarding gameplay and visual style. Even if their super deformed characters don't feature the most detailed pixel work, they always seem to look the part, as well as be professionally animated. That being said, when I stumbled over Bit Heroes, which is a freemium part and parcel, I was genuinely ready to drop my usual guard.
Bit Heroes has you upgrading a character by wiping out monsters in dungeons, forests, towers, and whatever else a high fantasy realm can contain. The game is more or less a single player experience. Even though you can duel in the arena, and join others in a dungeon, both of these activities use instances that either fight automatically, or let you control them, without the active participation of the players behind those characters. In fact, you can even automate exploration and battles. This method streamlines these activities for sure, but we lose something from the multiplayer interaction. Oh, I know, it's the interaction itself that is lost. Ah well, at least the mechanics work.
And, luckily, they do. Every dungeon contains a series of encounters, in which your character, along with your selected party battle groups of enemies in a similar fashion to the classic Final Fantasy active time battle system. But whereas in FF you had unique characters and skills, it's the armament that picks you apart from others in Bit Heroes. Every weapon has some three or more types of attacks/actions. One of them is always free, but the others require energy to perform. This stuff builds up over time, but only during fights. So there's no use in lollygagging.
There is no trading of loot for better items in Bit Heroes. Useless loot can be broken down into 'material,' which is then used to upgrade your preferred equipment. The shop only sells random crates at different gem rates. Yep, gems again. There's also the energy system that doesn't let you play for too long unless you purchase more of these energy batteries.
Overall though, the game plays well even without monetary injections. There's plenty of mechanics that come in. Besides upgrading, you can recruit familiars, equip powerful runes, carry enchantments to help you through difficult areas, and even ride your very own whacky mount. The guild system also ensures you'll have a shoulder to cry on when you need it.
I liked Bit Heroes. The Kongregate team didn't disappoint. Although they'll never see a penny from me, I urge others to be more giving. Am I not a hypocrite? Well, so is the "only democracy in the Middle East." Hail Hydra!