Rogue Stormers PC Review
Rogue Stormers is a new addition to the ever-expanding and popular ‘rogue’ genre (or rogue-like, or rogue-lite, or whatever new name the internet has decided to brand them as this week). In brief, a rogue game is one that contains perma-death; meaning you start back from the beginning after dying, and procedurally generated levels so players can’t simply learn the layout. They are also notoriously difficult because of these characteristics, requiring the players to learn the core mechanics deeply to eventually reign victorious. The argument on what is and isn’t ‘rogue’ is usually focused on if the game allows permanent advancement with each death, such as power ups that will help the player on the next run. What this means is that, even though the games are ‘rogues’, they can’t be all that difficult as playing and dying over and over to grind up character strength is not only possible but often necessary to advance. And much like Rogue Legacy, Rogue Stormers falls under this weird mixed group of ‘semi-rogue-like-lite-ish’ games.
Another characteristic of this area of genres is having little to no story. These games aren’t about the experience or even the bond between the player and the world/characters; they are a challenge that have been issued by the developers to all gamers and story would do almost nothing the change that. That’s why this game’s ‘story’ is thrown at the player on the game’s booting screens and not during the gameplay itself. It’s something about goblins that have taken over the world or some country and it’s up to a couple of Rogue Stormers *wink, wink* to take it back at the expense of goblin-based-genocide. Boom. Done. Right to the game with a simple goal moving forward. I love it.
As with any other rogue(ish) game a few pre-existing game styles need to be merged to create a unique feeling experience and then have the aforementioned perma-death and other common elements thrown in, in order to create something new. This time it’s platforming mixed with twin-stick-shooting which is down right hectic, adrenaline pumping madness due to the difficult terrain navigation and possible dead ends you can be backed up into, especially with the inclusion of traps that need to be closely timed to dodge past safely. Vertically the game allows some platforms to be jumped through or dropped down from, allowing for quick movement and the use of the turf to take cover and avoid incoming enemy shots. Although it is a shame that there are so few areas fed to the level generator, so each play through seems very similar instead of a new adventure. It’s always houses at the top and similar looking caves below, with the odd carver laid about in.
The same could be said for enemy variety but in that case it’s more about the mixing up of different enemy types that are used to test the player instead of constantly using new types as curveballs. For example, you might start off fighting a hot-air-ballon guy and a few minions but how do you handle it when a few traps are laid about and the hot-air-ballon enemy is given a shield and that’s where the difficulty lies. Eventually just hordes of the toughest goblins are charging for the player and it’s everything you can do just to try and escape in search of health packs. Despite the enemy projectiles move slow enough to be eluded there are times when so much is happening that the only way to survive is to try and back up, forcing the attackers to move through some kind of choke-point.
Rogue Stormers consists of 7 stages and characters are unlocked by reaching certain points for a total of 5 characters, each with their own stats, special power, and weapons. The default uses a basic assault rifle and starts unleashing mayhem by firing at minigun speeds when his power is activated. There are also slow but damaging rocket-launcher and constant but close range flamethrower characters, for example. Although, I definitely preferred the default for the well-rounded stats and attacking power. For any Towerfall players out there the dodge mechanic will feel instantly familiar as the range and cool-down time is very similar and comes with about the same amount of invincibility frames allowing the player to dodge through incoming shots instead of just around them, opening up a whole new offensive strategy for many situations especially for the characters that use close-range weapons.
As mentioned above, Rogue Stormers permanently powers up characters individually by having the player collect XP as the game is played and selecting between one of two random, permanent ‘perks’ once levelled up. These can be anything from increased starting health to more invincibility frames on dodges and can only be ‘re-rolled’ by using a special token of which only 1 is received after each completion of the game, so make sure to pick well! In-game upgrades that last until death are also found or bought from shops or gambling stations etc. A secondary weapon can be equipped and used as often and the respective cool down allows and as many upgrades as can be collected should be picked up to help progression.
I wouldn’t say Rogue Stormers is a difficult game, especially after completing it on my third try which for most rogue games is unheard of. Although, like many of this classification of games, success can rely on either player skill or luck. If a player manages to stumble upon all the best upgrades then success doesn’t take much effort but the hard part is surviving the other runs, when health packs don’t drop as often and all the secondary weapons found are garbage. Even then, though, I didn’t have much trouble making it far. The bosses definitely didn’t increase the difficulty as there are are only 7, 3 of them being stationary ‘boss gates’ and the other 4 are the final boss, second boss, and both of the first bosses that are randomly used.
With nothing that stands out too much in the sound or art department besides, for some reason, making me feel nostalgic for Wild 9 on the original Playstation, what we have here is a fun game that can be mastered and beaten relatively quickly. It does allow for more replayability, though, if a player feels like fully upgrading their perks or beating the game with each of the 5 characters. Is it the best rogue-y game out there? Certainly not, but it’s a nice time-filler that can be enjoyed alone or with friends, even if it’s likely not something that you’ll feel like coming back to again and again.