If there is one word that I really like to hear when a game is described, it’s rogue-lite. I love games that are different every time I play. Games like Binding of Isaac and Dead Cells have provided me with hundreds and hundreds of hours of entertainment. You never know what you are going to get and there is always a sense of the unknown every time you start a run. I like the way the player ‘learns’ the rules of the game and eventually works out how to turn these rules to his or her advantage. You eventually get to a point where you know the game inside and out and it’s a great journey to get there.
Let’s talk about Streets of Rogue then, described as a mixture of a rogue-lite with elements of GTA and Deus Ex sprinkled in. I’ll be honest, it sounds right up my street and surely it’s going to be amazing with a description like that. Not all rogue-lites are created equal though. I have played a ton of them and for every amazing rogue-lite game there are a handful of poor clones that don’t emulate the classics of the genre. I cannot wait to get stuck in and hopefully this title will be another game I get very addicted to. In Streets of Rogue you are a member of the resistance and must find a way to take out the Mayor and end his broken promises of free beer and low taxes. Brilliant.
Instead of a randomly generated dungeon to work your way through, you are placed in a fully functioning city where the inhabitants are going about their own business and violence is not the only tactic for success. You can pick from a myriad of characters from soldiers and vampires to shapeshifters and hackers, just to name a few. Each of these characters plays differently and require a slightly different approach to each run. They all have different starting items and abilities and there is someone to suit every play style. You only start with a few characters but all characters are listed along with what’s required to unlock them. The requirements to unlock them are fun too, making unlocking characters a joy instead of a massive grind.
I quickly learned that there are many ways to play this game and I love that. I started with the soldier as most rogue-lites I play require you to kill everything. I soon after found out that this game sometimes requires a more measured approach. Don’t get me wrong, violence still works but you have to choose where, when and take the rest of the inhabitants of the level into account when doing so. You may upset the police or other people when killing folk and its not always the best tactic to proceed through the game.
In order to get to the next floor you have to complete a set of missions to unlock the elevator. These missions are randomly generated and vary from killing enemies to retrieving items. You are rewarded with XP, items and cash for your time and when you have completed all the tasks required you are free to move on. You may wish to hang around a little though as these levels are littered with shops, chests, safes and things to do. You may even be able to pick up bonus missions from bartenders or other helpful characters dotted through the stage. When you have enough XP, you level up, get your health refilled and can pick a new trait to add to your character.
As well as your missions to progress, each character has a ‘big’ mission that continues throughout your whole run. Each characters big mission is different and does tie into their story somewhat. All the missions, items, buildings and characters all mesh together to make a rogue-lite that is truly unique. Every task can be accomplished in so many ways, hacking, violence, bribery, you can even teleport through walls, cut windows or hide in cardboard boxes. The fact that the rewards are different every time and your characters are so varied, you have to be constantly aware of your surroundings and how you are going to complete your next task.
Another thing that makes the good rogue-lites good are the persistent upgrades. The upgrades that are permanent and stick with you throughout your time in the game. These are good because even when you have bad runs, sometimes you unlock something that will make future runs easier and therefore you feel like you are still making progress. In Streets of Rogue these take the form of chicken nuggets, I know, sounds bonkers doesn’t it? It’s not though, every run you do you are rewarded in chicken nuggets depending on your success. These can be spent between runs to unlock more items, more traits, mutators and even used to buy items to take into your next run.
All these persistent upgrades add to the already numerous random factors in the game. What I do like is that you can disable anything you have unlocked, this may seem weird to people who don’t play rogue-lites but there is nothing worse than buying an item and it not be very good. Being able to remove it from the item pool means you will not see it again and improves future runs. Just don’t expect to get your nuggets back when removing items you have spent them on. As I said earlier, it’s about learning the rules in these types of games and making sure every run that you have the maximum chance to succeed.
Multiplayer can be played both locally and online with up to four players. When you play with other people the random madness truly gets turned up a notch. It is fun though combining your characters abilities to achieve your goals. I played with my son and we were the hacker and thief respectively. It worked really well as he could hack safes and cameras while I snuck in through walls and we achieved most of our goals without alerting or killing anyone. It was good fun and I think the game really shines when you can work with a partner and progress tactically.
I absolutely love the presentation of Streets of Rogue, its got lovely pixel-art and has chunky graphics that remind me of games like Prison Architect. The art style, while being simple is really nice, it won’t however, be to everyone’s taste. I am a sucker for pixel-art, especially in games like this that benefit from that graphical style. The music is superb and really propels you through each level. The music is crunchy and upbeat and really fits the style of the game.
There is a lot to like about this quirky little title. With so much room for random madness and so much room to approach the game in any way you like, every run is unique. There are a lot of characters, traits, mutators, items and rewards to keep you playing for a long time. The multiplayer is fun and you can create even more carnage with a friend, or multiple friends if you have that many. If your a fan of rogue-lites then Streets of Rogue definitely does something different while retaining the traits that make a rogue-lite fun and addictive. I really enjoyed my time with the game and will be playing it long into the future.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*