Friday, 6 September 2013

100 Rogues (Ouya/iOS)

Time for a bold announcement. Towerfall may well be the top multiplayer game on the Ouya, but Wesley Paugh's 100 Rogues is hands-down the best single-player game available for the console - at least in this humble reviewer's opinion. More Rogue-lite than Roguelike, with its SNES-era production values and console gameplay, not-to-be-taken-seriously bestiary, boss battles and tongue-in-cheek humour, I'd probably go as far as to say its my favourite classic-style rogue game released to date.

It's not often I can claim that my second playthrough of a game resulted in me dying in the pits of hell, mercilessly butchered by a clown and a pack of gummi-rats shortly after defeating the pope. In 100 Rogues that very fate was realised. Another epic encounter saw my luckless crusader almost vanquished by a rocket-launcher wielding robot, barely surviving close combat, yet ultimately winning the battle by throwing an arrow at the fiend whilst bravely fleeing the scene. Neat, huh? But it has to be said that nothing beats the time I slayed Satan by biting him in the groin whilst in the guise of a giant dinosaur. Oh yes, this game is full of these moments.

There are so many wonderful things to say about 100 Rogues that it is hard to know where to begin. In fact, the only weak point is probably the name, which is not only meaningless but also so generic that you could easily make the mistake of passing the game by - or at least you would if it wasn't for the ever-so-enticing cover art. First and foremost, unlike other rogue games, the different character classes you play as genuinely make the game feel entirely different due to their unique skill and spell-trees; whether you choose to play as the tank-like warrior (who is seemingly half-man-half-dino and an expert at close combat), jack-of-all trades Crusader (with his mix of holy-magic and weapon skills), the enchanted Fairy Wizard or assassin-like Skellyman, levelling-up is a real joy, introducing you to many new and wonderful ways to defeat the dungeon denziens.

In fact, levelling-up is far from your average roguelike experience thanks to the inclusion of a 'belly' meter that prevents you from staying on and grinding a particular floor for too long. You need to maintain your hunger level in order to automatically heal from combat, and there is only a limited supply of food to be found in each dungeon, forcing you to move on to more dangerous depths. Not only does this keep the gameplay fast-paced and fresh, but it also means that balance is kept in check with the enemies stats matching or surpassing yours as you progress through the game. No 'kill 1000 rats on level one and max out' cheating here.

From looking at the screenshots you could be fooled into thinking that the game is actually more akin to a Gauntlet like real-time arcade hack 'n' slash experience, but when it comes to combat (and indeed exploring the levels) 100 Rogues is actually a highly strategic turn-based affair, much like its ASCII-based forefather. Sure, there's an element of luck, but in most cases you'll need to weigh up decisions with every step when an enemy appears. Should you take out the individual ranged critters first with a spell, or save your mana/energy for a devastating multi-square close combat attack? Or maybe just teleport out of the open to a nice narrow corridor and take them out one at a time in single file? Or perhaps just throw a random item from your inventory at that fearsome rocket-launcher wielding robot and hope for the best?

Interestingly, in contrast to many games currently available on the platform, the Ouya version of 100 Rogues isn't a mere 'mobile port' with controller support shoe-horned in. As explained in the developer's post-mortem on Gamasutra, the iOS game was actually completely rewritten and redesigned for the console over the course of a year, resulting in a game that is arguably better and more robust than the original. It's not often you read that about an Ouya game, is it? And further threatening to take the crown from killer-app Towerfall, it seems that a four-player version is planned exclusively in the near future. It goes without saying that here at RGCD we are super excited at the prospect of teaming up with friends and collectively giving that pesky Satan a good kicking.

Download the demo of the Ouya version here (from Total Ouya).
Download the demo/purchase the iOS version here (from the iOS App Store).
5 out of 5