Posts Tagged ‘roguelike’

Tales of Maj’Eyal Review

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Developer: DarkGod
Publisher: DarkGod
Platform: PC – GOG*, Steam

My first exposure to roguelikes would probably make Rogue fans cry. Instead of following most of the same principles, what I came to know of the genre could be better defined as rogue-lites. In any case, not everything I play falls into that distant genre cousin branch, as Tales of Maj’Eyal proves. This roguelike RPG is incredibly deliberate with turn-based play, variety of challenging enemies, tons of character classes to experiment with, and of course the possibility of permadeath.

Honestly, Tales of Maj’Eyal is quite a lot to take in right from the start. There are tons of classes and different types have their own starting hub worlds. Despite a recognizable top-down and turn-based interface, there’s a lot to get a handle on with a multitude of spell types, enemy powers, and a handful of other systems. But basically, it’s very much like a typical deep RPG wherein you’re able to hone your characters with exacting detail and will always need to be careful while exploring randomly generated dungeons.

Tales of Maj'Eyal Featured

Once you digest everything at play here the game really takes off. It’s difficult for me, even on easier settings, but I certainly appreciate that there are multiple options available. If you’re looking for a “hardcore” experience then Tales of Maj’Eyal provides that. If you’re seeking a highly strategic, but not completely hellish game you can get that too. It’s great to see a game of this genre open itself up to a variety of skill levels.

In all, it was a big surprise how much I ended up enjoying this one. There’s so much going on, but the foundation is solid. Roguelike fans looking for something more “classic” than Rogue Legacy and its ilk will definitely find it with Tales of Maj’Eyal.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Spelunky Review

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Developer: Mossmouth
Publisher: Mossmouth
Platform: PC – Steam, PSN, XBLA

There was a point in time where I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a lot, but only for a brief moment. After that childish love affair with Harrison Ford ended, the VHS went back on the shelves to collect dust. The concept of adventure in forests, caves, and the like were great for a film but it seems they would be able to easily translate into games too. No, this isn’t a post about the various Indiana Jones games that came out over the years, but Spelunky.

Spelunky is an incredibly fun game. You start out as a little adventurer person (there are many to choose from, some who you find along your travels). They explore the caves and you must keep them alive by defeating enemies, dodging traps, and also making sure you don’t fall too far – or onto spikes! Along the way, you’ll gain valuables which are exchanged into currency at the end of each stage. If you find a merchant, they’ll usually sell you something helpful, unless you decide to steal from and/or kill them.

What makes Spelunky so fun is largely due to how simple the game is to understand. You must get from the start of the stage to the exit in a certain amount of time without dying. Do this a handful more times and you’ll work through the whole thing. Controls are also spot on for the (sometimes) careful maneuvering needed. Good luck getting through the game in one go though. The whole thing is diabolically hard at points. Usually, the player’s own impatience works against them.

Spelunky Featured

The original free Windows version of Spelunky had cute pixel art, but the current art appeals to me even more. Listening to the game’s soundtrack is also fun although there aren’t quite enough tracks available. The biggest negative I perceive is the simple fact that there’s no online multiplayer option. At this point in time, I (and many other people) don’t really get to have get- togethers for gaming. But online gaming nights? Oh, that’s much easier to organize.

With randomized stages leading to infinite replay value, I have started my adventures hundreds of times. And yet, when I have nothing else to do all I want is to play even more Spelunky. It creates an enjoyable hold on players and is definitely worth the purchase if you’ve never played.


Score: 4.5

4 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike

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Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike

Developer: Hippomancer
Publisher: Hippomancer
Platform: PC – Steam

Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike is a brand new video game with the heart of something released in the early 90s. All you have to do is look at one crude screenshot and nearly believe this is lost FPS shovelware. If you can get past the ridiculous visuals, there is one heck of a compelling game to dig into.

As the name implies, Rogue Shooter combines retro 3D FPS stylings with roguelike elements. These include randomly generated levels, a perk system, restart upon death, destructable weapons and armor, and tough bunches of enemies. As you progress through the 100 floors (50 on easy), you’ll check out a wide variety of weapons. Some are pretty average while others, such as a gun that shoots out goofy dogs, verge on the hilarious.

Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike Featured

Although all perks are deleted after a death, there is an overarching upgrade system that carries over between playthroughs. You can use it to increase health, attack power, and inventory slots. Getting enough points for these upgrades takes a while but the fun gameplay makes accumulating enough intel manageable.

If you did not enjoy games like the original DOOM, Quake, or even knock-offs like Chex Quest then Rogue Shooter isn’t likely to please you either. However, it doesn’t exist to simply cash in on nostalgia. Playing is tremendously fun once you get accustomed to retro elements such as no ability to aim your gun up or down. I wholeheartedly recommend this oddball game to anyone who harbors a crush on 3D FPS games of yesteryear or unique roguelikes.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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The Guided Fate Paradox Review

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Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS3

One of the most popular storytelling ideas for fantasy games is that a young person is somehow divinely selected as the world’s savior. Of course, as long as the title provides entertainment, then it doesn’t matter how the plot itself is constructed. The Guided Fate Paradox gives us a very different take on common tropes. Protagonist Renya is indeed a young man, but he is chosen for a much greater role. For whatever reason, he has been chosen to become God.

This must be the greatest wish-fulfillment game ever, right? Well, not quite. Despite the incredibly imposing job description, his role is far less powerful than one would expect. God/Renya is not free to do as he wishes but must instead work tirelessly to fulfill the prayers of all living things. Via a machine called the Fate Revolution Circuit, he is able to hone in on specific wishes and make them come true. Said machine generates an alternate reality which can be manipulated by defeating enemies.

The Guided Fate Paradox Screenshot 1

So that’s how they wedge gameplay in with Godly powers. The Fate Revolution Circuit is a dungeon generator! With it, Renya and his angelic partner(s) are able to explore randomly generated dungeons to defeat enemies, level up, and grab loot. The gameplay takes on a distinctly roguelike edge with how it handles leveling up and death. After successful completion of a dungeon, your level returns to 1. However, there is an “overall” leveling system which never resets. If Renya dies, he will be ejected back to the hub with all his items and half his cash destroyed. It’s rough, but dying is definitely part of the picture.

What kind of wishes does God have to answer to anyway? The first chapter starts off in a way that shows every wish is valid, because the wisher is none other than Cinderella! Things get increasingly unusual from there. For all the same-y anime tropes wedged into some characters, other points have much more interesting narrative through-lines. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of The Guided Fate Paradox is how it presents itself. It works hard to look like it panders to fanboys with all women angels dressed in maid outfits from the get go. That, and the 17-year-old hero Renya who begins as nothing other than your “average teenager”. When the plot started to kick into gear I was honestly shocked by how good it turned out to be.

The Guided Fate Paradox Screenshot 2

Earlier I said that the game has a lot of roguelike elements. Don’t let this aspect turn you away, though. It is one of the easiest roguelikes that I’ve played (out of a dozen or so). Although The Guided Fate Paradox is not a breeze, there is a lot put in place to make sure players can make it through the game alive. The only thing that could have been improved was that the “fog of war” on stages gets far too enclosed at points. It is a conceit acknowledged by the game, but left me rushing into the arms of enemies without feeling prepared. This is a relatively small issue, all things considered. Positives of dungeon exploration include cute and/or weird enemy types and creative boss battles.

There is a lot of depth to playing The Guided Fate Paradox and it somehow manages to keep from becoming too complex. Dungeon crawling is a lot of fun, as is slowly revealing the story. The concept behind it sounds supremely goofy, but thankfully the full game reveals far more interesting aspects. The Guided Fate Paradox is a massive, and entertaining, surprise.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Desktop Dungeons Review

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Developer: QCF Design
Publisher: QCF Design
Platform: PC – Browser, Direct, Steam

Last year, I found myself falling in love with the roguelike genre thanks to a handful of new indie games. I had never played Rogue, but it was easy to become a big fan of the concepts. After a while though, it did start to drag a little. Each game felt a little too samey. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Desktop Dungeons but it has managed to far surpass all expectations. This is an incredibly fun roguelike that can be enjoyed by new and veteran players alike.

Desktop Dungeons starts off with some tutorials, which in itself is actually rare in the genre. You get the basic mechanics for exploring dungeons, how battles work, and how to make use of magical skills. You’re also quickly introduced to the fact that your little explorers will die – and die often. From there, you can engage in a variety of missions in different dungeons. Or, you can take on a variety of puzzle missions which seek to teach players how to play with strategies in mind.

Desktop Dungeons Screenshot

Whichever you spend your time with, Desktop Dungeons is a ton of fun. It doesn’t hold back, though! You’ll find yourself dying (and losing all loot) often. Sometimes this can be chalked up to choosing the wrong character type and loadout, but other times it’s all due to a lack of strategic thinking. Managing health potions, taking out higher level enemies, and the like all must be kept in mind. Otherwise, your adventurers are apt to be killed off quickly.

There’s nice looking art as well, although it doesn’t scale up very well, so you’ll likely play in a smaller than average game window. But the graphics are certainly charming, as are the silly little enemies. How much fun you have with Desktop Dungeons is based around how willing you are to learn. Dying is common, but with little consequence, so feel free to try out a variety of play methods. Whether your play style is hitting up one dungeon for a few minutes, or playing multiple for hours, Desktop Dungeons offers great bursts of fun.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Eldritch Review

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Developer: Minor Key Games
Publisher: Minor Key Games
Platform: PC – Direct, Steam

A lot of things come to mind when people invoke the name H.P. Lovecraft. Sometimes thoughts rush straight to Cthulhu, the Necronomicon, or (in)sanity. Even if you’ve never read his fiction, you’re likely aware of some of these things thanks to video games taking bits and pieces to create their own narratives. Eldritch is one such game that was inspired by Lovecraft, but also roguelikes. It might sound like a winning or awful combination (depending on your proclivity). As it turns out, the results are pretty good.

Players enter Eldritch with little explanation. They are just a woman stuck in a library, or so it seems. After reading some of the tomes, you realize that you can actually transport yourself to a new area by reading one of three special books. What is this strange new place? It’s a dungeon filled with treasures and dangerous beings – and you’ll have to survive it all. Or, as was often the case for my playthrough, you’ll die a lot.

Each dungeon is an odd mass of rooms, spikes, enemies, and objects to be found. Weapons are pivotal to survival later on and it is best to stock up on them early. Often there are coins scattered about as well which you can spend for other items. If you’re in danger, try to put the coins in storage though. Upon dying the player loses all they’ve found thus far, including any coins on their person. The same holds true for keys which are tremendously useful. However, unlocked levels will remain unlocked even after you die, which is quite handy.

Eldritch Screenshot

The gameplay itself is based around searching through levels to collect gear and find the exits. Of course, there are tons of monsters that will do anything to keep you from that goal. For about half of Eldritch the game is actually pretty easy. Then some new monster types appear that makes things more challenging – and sometimes even creepy. Sound effects are used to great effect as well.  For example, hearing odd breathing coming slowly closer will definitely cause players to be extra alert. Although there is apparently a very subtle soundtrack, I couldn’t perceive it and instead would play my own soft music over the game.

There’s an elephant in the room that it’s time to address. Eldritch looks tremendously like Minecraft. Or, it at least uses voxel graphics with pixellated skins that are certainly Minecraft-esque. This has been a trend lately for many indie developers and its easy to see why. With such graphics it is easier to worry about the experience, rather than making realistic graphics that are far beyond the scope of a small team. The game itself however is nothing like Minecraft. Aside from being able to blow up walls with dynamite, there is basically no similarity between the two.

Playing through Eldritch doesn’t take too tremendously long, but once you do, it reveals a new game+. Anyone who felt the main game was too easy will find this to be a much harder version. Features such as sneaking are actually necessary to survive! Players must also more carefully manage resources. If you felt the main game was too simple, then definitely try and get to NG+ to really start enjoying it. For me, the main game was tough enough. It’s a fun little adventure perfect for those looking to build up to more challenging roguelikes.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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The Wizard’s Lair Review

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The Wizard's Lair Boxart

Developer: Magicbane
Publisher: Magicbane
Platform: PC (Desura, direct)

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

Roguelikes, roguelikes, roguelikes! It seems like that’s all coming out of the indie scene at times. Of course it’s not, but there are certainly a great deal of them coming out recently. The Wizard’s Lair is definitely another roguelike, but it’s pretty fun, even if there’s little to differentiate it from the hordes of others.

In this game, you are a little adventurer heading through a multitude of dungeon floors. With no knowledge of the layout, the world around you is completely black. This fog of war dissipates once your character moves close, but by then, there might already be a swarm of monsters ready to burst out of the darkness. There’s little you can do at that point though other than to point your measly sword at them before being overrun.

The Wizard's Lair Featured

As is standard of the genre, once you die it’s game over. After that there’s no time to mourn. Simply pick up another game with a brand new character. There are a great many sprite characters to choose from although they don’t appear to change your skills. Basically, all skills and equipment are generated by finding weapons, potions, and scrolls in the dungeon. As your inventory is limited there is only so much junk that can be carried at any one time.

Visually, The Wizard’s Lair seems to fall in the middle of roguelike graphics stylings. After all, there’s only so much one can do with the highly recycled premise of dungeon crawling for loot. Actually, perhaps that’s not a fair assessment with other roguelike games such as FTL existing. In any case the graphics are serviceable. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any music. There are sound effects though (which can be toggled off if you wish).

There’s nothing wrong with The Wizard’s Lair but it’s not particularly distinctive either. The nicest feature to me was instant compatibility with a 360 game controller. It also is a very fast game, making it easy to run through a few levels during a break.


Score: 2.5

2.5 out of 5 alpacas


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Dungeon Fray Review

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Developer: Nitesh Gupta
Publisher: Nitesh Gupta
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

 Do you like roguelikes? Well, you’d better if you choose to give Dungeon Fray a shot. That’s because this title follows the genre conventions pretty stringently. You begin the game as one of a handful of classes, then get to work clearing dungeons, collecting loot, and leveling up (or dying). So why is it that, as routine as the game is, that I can’t stop playing?!

With simple mechanics, Dungeon Fray is extremely easy to get into. There’s very little pretense here. You just select your hero and are plunged in the middle of a dark dungeon. Maneuvering around is simple, as is fighting enemies. All you’re required to do is bump into them to initiate an attack (Y’s anyone?) although you can also cast spells. Once they’re dead, you gain much-needed XP.

Dungeon Fray Featured

With enough experience your character levels up and that grants a free, much-needed health boost. Of course, you’re also collecting money from treasure chests and the like. With this you can increase stats (health, strength, defense) or choose to buy potions and spells. It’s important to improve your character but also maintain a healthy amount of items otherwise you’ll find yourself dying quickly.

Visually, there’s very little impressive about the experience. It has much less finesse than its brethren Hack, Slash, Loot, but somehow that quickly becomes a non issue. I prefer this game by far because it’s tough, but fair. You can always keep a close enough level to enemies by clearing floors, and there are a great deal of objects in dungeons to aid you. With easy to understand gameplay/controls and fast action, Dungeon Fray is the kind of game that compels players to go “just one more dungeon” (before playing many more).


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Hack, Slash, Loot Review

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Developer: David Williamson
Publisher: David Williamson
Platform: PC

This post is part of the Indie RPG Bundle review collection

If you’re looking for quite the difficult dungeon crawler then Hack, Slash, Loot is likely up your alley. With a roguelike style, it appeals to the hardcore player but also anyone who has found themselves interested in the whole “die once – start over” mechanic. But this title isn’t a one trick pony. There’s so much to master that this game is likely to suck up hours and hours of time.

First, let’s start with the basics. You begin as a specific character class and choose the level you wish to undertake. In the beginning there are only three characters but there are a massive 32 in all. Each has their own skills and attack ranges. Of course that’s not all there is to it. There are a multitude of enchantments and the like which can be applied to your weapons, health, or defense. This is on top of the general stats of all your gear which you can change via new loot pickups.

Hack, Slash, Loot Featured

Loot is one of the most important aspects of any dungeon crawler and it’s littered everywhere in Hack, Slash, Loot. You’ll find a great deal of potions around, but also new weaponry as well as boots, shields, and more. Oftentimes, loot is worse than what you’ve got already, but some is incredible! Try to trek around an entire level before venturing to the next to make sure all loot has been uncovered.

There is a definite learning curve to this game. At the start I was lost but also entranced to keep playing, death after death. This is due to the simplicity of play. More than anything, it seems like luck is the biggest factor working for or against players as they start out. Simple to understand gameplay paired with deeper concepts and an attractive pixel aesthetic make Hack, Slash, Loot a roguelike that’s incredibly easy to recommend.


Score: 3.5

3 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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