If you were a fan of the Warcraft 3 ‘Impossible Bosses’ custom mod or are just looking for a real challenge, then NEO Impossible Bosses may be just the game for you. Singaporean creator Edwin ‘ddengster’ Fan was inspired by the Warcraft 3 mod map of the same name produced by Psyris in 2010, which allowed players to work together in near-impossible battles against formidable bosses.
NEO Impossible Bosses is a RTS-MOBA raid boss rush game. There are a total of 10 bosses each with unique ultimate abilities that require players to learn and adapt their playstyles in order to defeat them in the arena.
It is similar to the Warcraft 3 mod in terms of visuals and MMO-style gameplay, but what sets it apart is the option of a single-player mode where one can control multiple units and characters, instead of just playing one character in your guild. Optionally, players can also team up with friends to take on the bosses and try their best to reach the top of the leaderboards.
Players start by choosing between Ranger or Ice Mage for their party, but subsequently unlock and are able to select from 6 classes of heroes including Guardian, Paladin, Priestess and Fire Mage. Each class has its unique set of abilities, and successful boss encounters reward players with gold which they may spend in the item shop to buy items or upgrade abilities to better equip them for the next fight.
Ideally heroes should be relatively balanced in terms of damage output, but completing the first boss encounter was noticeably easier using the Ice Mage over the Ranger, as it took several tries before I was able to whittle down the tutorial boss’ health with the Ranger’s bow while I breezed past the Count’s first stage with the Ice Mage.
While it is ideal that the game has multiple heroes to choose from, especially for fans of Warcraft 3 who may have pre-existing hero class preferences, it is important for these heroes to be balanced from the outset.
Don’t approach this game if you want an easy experience breezing past bosses though. This game is all about the challenge and dials it up to the extreme, regardless of the difficulty level you are playing at. The bosses are no pushover even at Normal, the lowest difficulty, and gets even harder at the Hard and Impossible difficulty levels.
For those craving the ultimate challenge, there’s an Ironman mode, where a loss at any boss fight means game over. Each subsequent difficulty level introduces differences in boss abilities and gameplay, and not just an increase in boss health or damage, so it keeps the game fresh and poses different challenges for players.
One thing that’s great about the game is how you can jump straight into the action with no fuss, no story, and no hours spent grinding levels to reach the boss battle stages. The bosses are hard and justifiably so, as the game is aimed at fans of the Warcraft 3 MMO-style of raid boss fights and experienced MOBA players.
Regrettably, that makes it highly unforgiving for the uninitiated. If you are new to MOBAs and its characteristic fast-paced game play, then for you NEO Impossible Bosses would likely be as the name describes, practically impossible.
If you’re new and want to learn the game, the bad news is there are barely any tutorials provided. A few pop-ups on the screen appear providing you with minimal instructions and ability tips in your first boss battle, but it is mostly a process of trial and error to learn then game.
Remember how I mentioned that the Ice Mage makes the tutorial boss easier? Well, even the tutorial boss is quite the challenge, as there are numerous stages which get increasingly more complex and it can feel like a grind to slowly learn the abilities and quirks of each boss.
One helpful feature was that the game allowed pauses in single-player mode. At times the game can feel overwhelming, especially to novice MOBA players, as there were so many things going on at the same time on the screen. Being able to pause, strategise, and take the time to issue orders to units was useful and helped ease the game’s already steep learning curve.
In terms of its visuals, NEO Impossible Bosses is rather lacking in polish. Yes, it is trying to emulate the Warcraft 3 mod and does so quite closely, but that mod was released almost 8 years ago and replicating 2010-esque graphics in 2018 feels dated. The upside of the retro-inspired illustrations is that the game has low system requirements and runs smoothly on even on a laptop.
As you continuously right-click around the arena to move and avoid enemy fire, your character cycles through saying about four short voice lines. Hearing these lines over and over again can feel repetitive and doesn’t really contribute to the gameplay experience, although this style of repeated voice lines are similar to those in the Warcraft 3 mod.
In addition, the audio cue that plays when you attempt to use an ability that is not ready is a loud beep, which can be distracting and jarring to the ears. It might be preferable to have the character say a voice line to inform the player instead, such as the “I’m out of mana” and “Not ready yet” voice lines in Dota 2.
NEO Impossible Bosses is overall a promising debut effort from its lone developer, Edwin Fan. Skewed towards Warcraft 3 mod fans with MOBA proficiency, it may be quite the uphill battle for novice players, but will be a tough yet rewarding game for those willing to step up to the challenge and grind for those boss battle victories.