Rogues Like Us Review – Miscreants Versus MachinesMay 16, 2018
Disclaimer: This product was received for free
Rogues Like Us is a rogue-like in both name and nature. Developed by oddByte, Rogues pits you against a series of procedurally generated dungeons packed with myriad monsters and limitless loot. But enough witty wordplay, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of things: should you play it?
As the opening cutscene informs us, Rogues is set 80 years after a war between the land of Arventous and the Outer Kingdoms. Arventous suddenly attacked the Kingdoms with their war constructs, but they united and pushed into Arventous, only to find it’s capitol engulfed in water. Now, evil is stirring within the destroyed land once again, and the community of outcasts and rogues that reside there are offering a generous reward for anyone who puts a stop to it.
As you progress in the game you’ll find journal pages that expand on the games backstory, indicating that there’s more to it than a cursory glance would suggest. The story is pretty straightforward for the most part and takes a backseat to gameplay, but that’s typical for a game like this.
Speaking of gameplay, it’s what you’d expect from a rogue-like: you fight through dungeons made up of rooms of different types – the standard monster rooms, treasure rooms that provide you with different weapons, statue rooms that can provide stat bonuses or challenge you to fight waves of enemies for prizes, etc. – with each dungeon being punctuated by a boss fight.
The game feels best on a controller, excluding the ranged attack – it’s obviously a lot easier to aim using a mouse. The combat felt responsive, and it never stopped being satisfying to see the enemy constructs crumble into a pile of debris.
Blast in action (Mom, get the camera!)
Rogues Like Us gives you two abilities alongside your basic attack: ‘Blast’, an infinite-range straight-line projectile attack, and ‘Slam’, an area of effect attack centered on the player. These abilities can be upgraded as you progress into the dungeons and advance your stats, for example giving you more charges for blast, or a quicker cooldown for slam. Unfortunately, these stat upgrades only last until you either die or emerge from the dungeon victorious, with each run starting you back at square one.
The one thing that does carry through from other runs is your armor, which you unlock by opening chests dropped from bosses. Armor provides a set bonus for wearing two or four pieces of the same armor set. Strangely there are five armor slots available, so after you equip either two pieces from two armor sets, or four from one, you have an extra piece of armor that isn’t actually doing anything. If each individual piece of armor improved your stats, this problem would be avoided and progression would feel more linear. As it stands, you have ‘jumps’ in survivability once you get two pieces from the same set, but you can go through a few chests without getting an actual bonus from your loot.
Then again, you can use the fifth slot to become a nightmare frog, so there’s that.
Weapons, enchantments and dyes are unlocked similarly. When you unlock a dye, it can be used immediately to recolor your armor, adding a nice amount of customization to the game. When you unlock a weapon or enchantment, it is added to the pool of items that can show up in a run. I quite like this feature as it means that while you can progress faster by getting better items from dungeons, the initial difficulty isn’t removed as you still have to use one of the three beginner swords.
The last type of loot available are trinkets, items guaranteed to drop from a boss, each with a different effect. There’s one that increases your weapon size, one that makes your dash leave behind pillars of fire, etc. These add some variation to the runs, and can change your play style depending on which you get.
As far as difficulty goes, Rogues Like Us provides a fair amount of challenge. I felt like the regular dungeons were harder than the boss fights a lot of the time, since you can easily be overwhelmed by a large number of enemies. That doesn’t mean I didn’t die to any bosses, though – the later ones were certainly not ‘easy’, for me at least.
This guy was a real pain
Rogues Like Us is some good fun, and I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys rogue-likes. I played version 1.00 / 1.01 for around 6 hours, and can see myself going back to it. You can grab Rogues on Steam for £5.94 until May 18.
Check out Rogues Like Us on Twitter here.