Rogue Islands Steam Screenshot

Genre: FPS / Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

In Rogue Islands you take control of a dwarf on a journey to save his tribe. It’s an FPS-meets-minecraft kind of game, with voxel graphics and heavy use of roguelite principles. You travel from island to island on your boat and complete simple missions: simply gathering enough fuel to move forward, visiting the “spirit tree” to meditate on top of it or fighting the boss. The gameplay on every island can be split into three parts: exploration, resource gathering, fighting. As for the gathering part: at the very least, you need to gather enough fuel to move to the next island, but there’s much more resources (food / magic gems) at each location. The monster hunting part is pretty straight forward: use your spells to kill monsters, they drop “souls” that can be used for upgrades later on.

The Good:

  • The islands are huge. The random terrain generation is also very well done, generating caves / mountains / ponds and placing random resources. I don’t know how they did it, but most of the time you get the feeling that no way the current map you’re playing on could have been randomly generated. I’m very impressed.
  • The graphics are well done: very colorful, lots of effects and due to the right sound choice you get the feeling like you are in 8-bit world. The monster death effects deserve extra mention: killing stuff is just cool.
  • The FPS mechanics are alright. It’s not impossible to dodge the enemy projectiles, but you need to make an effort to do this. The projectile impacts are well done, but the weapon shooting does not always feel powerful. Don’t get me wrong, the weapons are in fact quite powerful, it’s just your first weapon, wand, which you are going to use most of the time, does not give impression of power. Projectiles just sort of fly away from it. It’s just an aesthetic feeling: impacts done right, shots – not so much.
  • The difficulty seems just right. If you make mistakes: you die and reset, if you play / dodge correctly – you progress further. There’s not much random involved in the combat itself, which makes it deterministic and not luck-based.

The Bad:

  • As of now, not big enough variety of monsters: first two boss models are the same. At the first ¾ islands, you are going to encounter 3-4 types of enemies at most. Again, this is OK for the early access title, but I think it’s fair that I warn you.
  • If you are playing with keyboard/mouse, but have controller connected, it’s still going to vibrate (which essentially means that you’ll have to disconnect it from your pc when playing).
  • No hotkeys to switch between weapons (spells). You have to press right mouse key, then the circular menu opens and you need to navigate to the one you need.
  • As of the current moment, the game crashed about 4 times upon my death within ~6h of playing. Not a huge deal (since you died anyway), but still gets on your nerves occasionally. After patch today I played for ~3 hours and did not encounter any crashes.
  • After alt-tabbing, the mouse pointer is not captured inside the game window (meaning it can go over the game window bounds if you have 2 monitors like I do – meaning you’ll probably die since the game is not pausing on alt-tab).

Summary

I don’t think it’s bad, but I have to warn you that it’s a roguelite after all, so all who like hoard resources are going to be disappointed as there’s really no easy mode 🙂 Despite the lack of content in Early Access version on launch and some inconveniences, the main gameplay loop is really well-done and I had fun playing for about ~9 hours at the current point. The terrain generation is really original and all the randomly generated landscapes/islands never felt repetitive, as I was eager to explore them and find the resources every single time. The game is really fun even at this point and I can confidently recommend it: there’s not much content yet, but the developers mentioned that it’s going to cost $9.99 during early access. For this price – it’s a steal and if you like the idea of it – there’s no reason not to buy it.

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Polygod Steam Screenshot

Genre: Roguelike/FPS
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait until the game is out of early access.

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer: #2 Game is in early access, so lots of things will probably change

In Polygod, you challenge the evil Gods in a special trial (Trial of Gods). The twist is that every level is randomly generated. As you kill enemies, you gather “souls” which you can use to improve your character. And while it all sounds great, I have mixed feelings about the game.

Pros:

  • Fast paced gameplay
  • Beautiful low-poly graphics, distinct style, colorful levels and effects
  • Lots of different upgrades
  • Challenging

Cons:

  • Only one weapon. (Yes, you can get various modifiers, but at the current point it just feels very repetitive to start every game with it).
  • Menu issues with gamepad, some UX/UI trouble
  • The shooting sound of player’s weapon does not feel enjoyable
  • Pathfinding is not that great, monsters get stuck behind walls

 

I can see that a lot of work went into the game, but my main issue is with the gameplay right now: pace-wise it’s good, but there’s actually a big game design challenge. In “linear” shooters, you are often given weapons to solve some kind of an “issue.” I.e. you are given rocket launcher before tank appears or shotgun for close-quarters or sniper-rifle before long-range combat starts. If the process is randomly generated, it’s just is not there. Therefore it becomes somewhat repetitive, because you have a gun and specific enemies that you can defeat using pretty much anything.

Overall, I’d say the game has its own style and the gameplay principles are there, but it feels that the game went into early access a bit too early. At the time of writing the review, enemies don’t have shooting/movement sounds, so you can’t hear where they are nearby. I’d say skip this one for now and check it out when it’s done. I’d be more than happy to look at it when it’s done though.

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Feature Image taken from the Polygod store page, here

Wrack Game Review Screenshot

Genre: First Person Shooter
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, but it would make sense to wait for sale (50%+ discount), since it got released in 2014 and goes on Sale occasionally

Wrack is a first-person single-player shooter. The game is really fast-paced and in fact encourages you to kill enemies quickly: one of the core mechanics is a combo meter: you get combo by killing enemies. In addition, by doing longer combos, you get stronger attacks and extra lives. Almost all of the game time will be spent dodging, shooting, running and picking up bonuses at a maximum possible speed.

Pros

  • Guns are well implemented, weapons are awesome and the effects are great
  • Dynamic gameplay, the game is very fast paced and it just feels right
  • Good interface polishing, the messages are very clear and the effects are awesome
  • Challenging difficulty (in a good way). You’ll die, but it never feels like the game cheated you, more like you were just making a mistake. You’ll die, but it feels rewarding to finish levels.
  • Music is pretty decent

Cons

  • Obviously, lack of multiplayer. The game would have been great to play against friends.
  • Not much variety of enemies
  • Enemy animations are somewhat crude
  • Cannot skip boss cutscenes (bad for multiple boss retries).
  • Combo System is interesting, but I don’t feel that it happens as often as necessary (sometimes enemies feel too spread out or I’m just very slow, so take this point with a grain of salt)
  • Too many instadeath hazards. I get it, sometimes it is necessary, but this feels a bit overboard.

Feature Image taken from Wrack store page, here