Rezrog - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Dungeon Crawler / Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

About The Game

Rezrog is a dungeon crawler where you take your party of explorers (one at a time) to go through the world. The game is styled like a table-top, each level is a dungeon that literally takes place on the table. Every character is a tabletop figure.

The Good

  • The style fits dungeon crawling perfectly: the board is revealed room by room, each room appears like lots of tabletop pieces dropping onto the table. When monster get killed – he is moved outside the room (placed nearby). The 2d-character figures also change the looks depending on gear equipped, which is pretty cool and unusual for dungeon crawling games.
  • Interesting approach to character death: when character is defeated, he gets “imprisoned.” That means that you cannot use the character before you rescue him.
  • Good graphics: 3D lightning is very well done, making dungeons more immersive than ever.
  • Challenging difficulty, especially in the beginning. You need to utilize every feature of the game to be successful: use the abilities, make sure to be well-equipped, purchase consumables and use them timely. Having said that, the game is not hard to get into: the UI is very clear and you won’t need to go through walls of text to understand how things work.
  • Skills can be freely swapped between characters. This is a double edged sword (later on that), but the good side is that you can customize any character. Also, it enhances prison system: you cannot equip the skill if the character that got imprisoned uses it already.

The Bad

  • Weapon Shop items do not have stats revealed until you buy them. You can’t even see level requirements on them. Essentially shop is a slightly improved slot machine: you know the type of the item that you are getting, but you have no idea what will it be. This seriously hinders strategizing and progression to some extent.
  • The content at the beginning can get a bit grindy: if your character gets imprisioned, you have to level up other characters to match the level, and the beginning of the game does not have that much monster variety.
  • The class differences are very vague. Since skills can be transferred between classes, the only thing that makes a difference is the natural growth of attributes.
  • Occasional bugs: sometimes your character jumps back to where he stood (all this happens while walking). Item description did not disappear when I closed inventory one or two times during my playtime. Nothing game breaking, but you notice those things.

Summary

Ultimately, what I like about the game is how well mechanics and style work together. Dungeon Crawler games are fascinating by themselves, but they often lacks good representation and is considered niche because of poor graphics / walls of text / hard to get into. Rezrog deals with these problems, and this makes it a game that can appeal to both gamers that are looking to get into the genre and more seasoned dungeon crawling veterans.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

MidBoss - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Dungeon Crawler / RPG / Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Wait for 66% discount

MidBoss is a dungeon crawler where you get to possess the bodies of your defeated enemies. By defeating more enemies and playing those characters, you unlock new skills and are able to use their skillsets even when you repossess some other monster. That opens a room for many different skill and build combinations.

The Good

  • The main idea: there are lots of monsters with unlockable abilities (you have to unlock them on every new run) that you combine into your own character builds. Each monster can have up to 3 active abilities chosen at the time. Some of the monsters don’t have 3, others have much more, which makes you choose. Those 3 abilities can be transferred to the next monster upon death, which opens space for LOTS of combinations.
  • The way how new runs are handled: the beginning gets repetitive, but “grave goods” system that allows you to transfer one item from your previous characters really helps the random factor and introduces the missing “roguelike” element: no matter what decisions you take, you will be stronger on the next walkthroughs if you are using the grave goods system properly.
  • Challenging difficulty done just right: the game is easy to get into, but hard to master. You’ll have to experiment a lot in order to find valid builds.
  • The art is not bad and is done in a consistent style. It’s a bit generic for a dungeon crawler, but not low quality.

The Bad

  • Random generation: the rooms often feel empty and not decorated enough. Additionally, the random generation also strongly affects the loot, so there will be games that you lose simply due to randomly generated items not being strong enough.
  • Not many stats compared to other roguelikes. When you level up, you can choose one of four stats only. Those affect your other attributes like dmg / block chance. So in that regard – levelling up your main character is pretty limited.
  • The UI: Menus are a bit clumsy. You cannot bind items on hotkeys (yes, even activated items). You cannot equip items at once when you pick them (even if you right click on them), you always have to open inventory and choose them.
  • The fonts are blurry and hard to read. The whole game graphics are blurred out (probably by intention), but I’m assuming that the blur shader is applied for the whole scene on rendering. This should not be done this way: the good idea is to render UI / Text after the relevant gameplay scene has been rendered. My eyes were not getting tired, but that overall impacts the UX and decreases the perceived quality of the game.

Summary

Compared to other roguelikes, this game is remarkably easy to get into, but that does not make it easy to play. The main possession mechanic is deep and well thought-out, but other aspects don’t feel very developed compared to other dungeon crawlers. I can recommend the game to those who are looking for a way to get into the genre or just don’t enjoy crawlers where you have to read tons of text. However, MidBoss seems quite overpriced right now and I’d personally wait for 66% discount and grab it close to $5 (or your regional equivalent), simply because there are other alternatives on the market.

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Western 1849 Steam Game Screenshot Indie Game Reviews 2017

Genre: Gallery Shooter/Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Disclaimer: I got the game key for free

Western 1849: Reloaded is a blessing in disguise: the screenshots do not impress you much, but the gameplay makes the game really shine. In my opinion, there’s a simple reason why gallery shooters lost their popularity. They started at the time of limitations, when no 3d was available, limiting the movement and shooting capabilities. Making a pathway to the other shooters as a genre, eventually fell into obscurity. 1849 though takes on the challenge, implementing the gallery shooting gameplay with roguelike mechanics. It works out really great: apart from action, you get to strategize and pick perks / upgrades / equipment (the latter two stay with you between the sessions).

As you clear the waves of the bad guys, you get to pick new perks which affect how the game is played. It can be extra damage, healing on hitting targets, poisoned bullets, more gold, etc. As the game progresses, you gain gold which you can spend on upgrading your existing weapons or buying items that give you benefits on every round. This makes for an engaging gameplay that will entertain you for a few hours.

Pros:

  • Engaging Gameplay, the game really is fun to play
  • Plenty of content: perks, upgrades, special items
  • Roguelike progression is well done: there are multiple unlock dimensions, you continue unlocking stuff as you get more score, finish special tasks or levels

Cons:

  • The graphics are not great and are somewhat edgy
  • If you have controller connected when you first launch the game, the hints/tips show controller controls (assuming you play with controller), even if you continue pressing the keyboard keys
  • Not much level/background variety

 

Overall, I’d say for that price, the game is really worth it. Despite not much variety in levels, the game has good entertainment value for all of every shooter fan.

GIVEAWAY: developers gave me 3 extra keys, so I think it’s fair if I share them with you. If you want to participate – go to the video linked below and leave a comment (Subscribtions are appreciated too, but it’s up to you). I’m going to pick a winner by February 23.

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Feature Image taken from the Western 1849 store page, here

Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Game Screenshot

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

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer #2: This one won’t be that short
Disclaimer #3: The game is close to release, but it is still work in progress and I had a preview version

„Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” offers a new take on a space exploration game. I suppose comparisons to “Faster Than Light” are inevitable, so let’s get this out first: similar to FTL, you control a ship that must traverse galaxies and the time is running out. Similar to FTL, you encounter various events and enemies. Similar to FTL, you recruit your crew, each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. Similar to how you loved FTL, you are going to love this game. They are different games though.

The ideas might be the same, but the execution definitely differs. ”Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” is west-meets-east kind of game, that mixes the game development styles from both sides of the world and keeps the best parts of them. Although there’s plenty of randomness, it’s not really a roguelike like FTL: the game is more plot / objective driven. You explore the space on your starship, taking turns to move from one galaxy to another. Each galaxy has a hub, something like a shop/upgrade center, where you can buy craftable item blueprints, crafting resources, weapons, upgrade your ship modules and hire more crew.

Indie Game Review 2017 - Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Ship Interior

After you visit the hub, you can travel to new planets and explore them, that’s where the main gameplay takes part. Exploration is just a series of events, from simple random quest encounters to enemies. The combat is turn-based (think JRPG turn based): your ship has multiple weapons, each one controlled by a crew member, and you may choose what weapons to use. You can also assign shield to your ship components or use special abilities.

Pros:

  • Unique Style, universe based on humor and lots of game and popular culture references
  • Interesting gameplay with lots of variety, game is really fun to play, the great blend of different mechanics really makes the game stand out
  • Depth of micromanaging, lots of things to do: crafting/ship parts/crew/weapons
  • Lots of items / craftables to customize your ship
  • Plenty of random events and enemy encounters

Cons:

  • The style / humor is not for everyone: I personally like it, but if you’ve played the other game (“Holy Potatoes! A weapon shop?!”) and did not like the style/humor – chances are you won’t like this one too.
  • The battles can get a bit repetitive: after all, you’re just firing the weapons at enemy and he fires back
  • Minor one, but had some issues with tutorial (notified the developers); as the game has lots of gameplay elements, it’s pretty easy to get lost in UI at first. It gets much easier later on though.

 

Overall, while I would not call this game a spiritual successor to FTL, I must say that it scratches that same „FTL itch” we all had after finishing the game. The game offers a unique take to the mechanics and Daylight studios do not disappoint with their execution: everything is well thought out and polished, the game is fun to play. It’s a great mix of genres, offering great depth of micromanagement paired with exciting RPG battles. Because of that, I highly recommend the game.

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Everspace Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Space Action/Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, if you enjoy space actions/roguelites

If you would ask me to give a brief description of Everspace, I’d instantly say that it’s a mix between Freelancer and Rogue Legacy. You travel from sector to sector of the galaxy via hyperspace jumps, kill the enemies and gather equipment to get to your goal (which is intentionally vague). The game is not open space, there is a route that you must follow. After you die – you have to start from scratch. However, you get to keep your money so you can upgrade your ship post-death and make the next run smoother.

Pros

  • Responsive ship controls using keyboard and mouse, decent space dogfighting combat
  • Great replayability: after you die, you get to equip the ship for the next run and try to do better
  • Amazing graphics: space seems very vivid
  • Challenging: you won’t go far during your initial runs, but that’s perfectly fine.
  • The missions/small challenges add focus to the gameplay
  • Innovative mechanics that work quite well: I think that’s the first combination of roguelike and space sim, have to give props to dev for making it work.

Cons

  • At this stage, the game can get a bit repetitive. Initial levels don’t offer enough variety. It often feels like you are going on the same track when you fly through them. (And you’re going to fly through them a lot!)
  • Looting often feels like a tedious job – flying from point to point just to shoot asteroids / crystals can get you bored. The upside is that you don’t have to hunt for resources, but you are greatly reducing your chances to have a good run.
  • Like with lots of roguelikes out there, you can get screwed by the gods of random, ensuring an unfavorable setup against you. You might get no decent weapon drops/overwhelming enemy numbers, that ultimately leads to your demise.

Everspace Review Summary

If you enjoy either permadeath roguelites or space action games – this one is for you. The space dogfights combined with permadeath/improvement mechanics will keep you entertained for some time. I’d probably suggest waiting for full release tho – the game is enjoyable as it is, but the developer promises much more content later on. If you don’t like idejas of permadeath and dying a lot and starting from scratch to achieve your objective – skip  this one.

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Feature Image taken from the Everspace store page, here

Assault on the Necrospire Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Action/Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: if you are OK with giving feedback during early access – Yes, otherwise: add it to wishlist and wait for it to be fully released

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free.
Disclaimer #2: The game is work in progress, so some things ought to change.

Traverse the dungeon to take down the evil necromancer! You control the mage that must go deep into the dungeon and kill the necromancer that has destroyed the wizard order. The game is an Action/RPG where the choice of items matters. There is no leveling system, you build your character by equipping the good stuff and avoiding the questionable stuff. It has a similarity with bullet-hell games, but is somewhat slower paced. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, because the game is still intense but leaves a bit more time for decision making compared to Enter the Gungeon or Nuclear Throne. You only have one attack, which is modified by special items, „spells.” Those items can speed it up or slow it down, add debuffs like bleeding or poisoning or change the attack pattern fully.

Since the game has permadeath, you will often face a sequence of small gaming sessions. The good part about them is that you can set up the difficulty yourself: as of the time when this review has been written, there are 15 difficulty modifiers like „double bosses,” „no health globes,” „exploding enemies” and so on. Those difficulty settings offer a great approach towards how the game is played: the hardships are not simply expressed through the monster stat increase, but actual gameplay changes which strongly affects the gameplay.

Pros:

  • Lots of items that alter the gameplay (instead of just altering stats), which opens room for interesting combinations
  • Well-drawn pixel Art
  • Difficulty modifiers adjust the gameplay, opening new experiences, instead of simply
  • The environment is well polished
  • Responsive controls
  • Pleasant, not-annoying, ambient music
  • Interesting Bosses, fights involve multiple stages

Cons:

  • Slow Travel Time. Cannot really teleport between the rooms, even the ones that you’ve visited which often makes.
  • Not that big room variety (80 room layouts means you’ll be seeing lots of duplicates if you play long enough), some rooms (especially the cross shaped one) don’t give much space for maneuvering resulting in inevitable loss of health
  • As with most of RNG-based games, sometimes the random does not favor you. You might get bad rooms or bad items and die fairly quickly
  • Only one basic attack at the start, could use a bit more variety (or improved feeling? Lesser damage but faster firing speed or just a bit shinier)

Overall, buy this one now if you like to give feedback on early access games. The developer is really friendly and you can clearly see that the game was made with love, so there’s potential. Otherwise, I think it’s worth to wait until there are more clarity and content: with all the great stuff about it, the game will definitely give you a good time for a an hour or two, but slow pace combined with very simple basic attack with little variety (at the start only, it gets better if you progress due to various spells) feels like the game is punishing new players. I’d add it to wishlist and wait to see how early access progresses.

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Feature Image taken from Assault on the Necrospire store page, here

Enter The Gungeon Game Review Screenshot

Genre: Bullet Hell/Action/Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Enter The Gungeon is a roguelite bullet-hell game. Your hero descends into the dungeon to find a gun that can kill time. Control your hero and move through the randomly-generated rooms while trying to shoot everything that moves. Destructible furniture / barrels can help you avoid enemy bullets and lots of guns make the elimination process much more cooler.

Pros:

  • Amazing polishing (Good example: reflections in the puddles from the barrels that you broke) and visuals, very charming.
  • Smooth controls
  • Dynamic Gameplay
  • Lots of Guns
  • The sound/music is nice

Cons:

  • Sometimes it feels like the game depends on RNG too much. If you get bad weapons in the starting crates – you’ll probably dead.
  • Some guns are useless. Like, totally useless (see the first reason).
  • Does not feel like there’s much of variety between characters.
  • The room transition/movement feels a bit slow. The action is great, but this part feels very dragged occasionally (huge rooms generated with not many enemies that you still need to traverse completely).

Overall, I’d say give the game a try. At least to see how visual perfection looks like in 2d. You’re going to love the effects.

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Feature Image taken from Enter the Gungeon store page, here

Death Skid Marks Game Review Screenshot

Genre: Action/Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, but wait for 50% discount (under 5 EUR/USD)

Get to the concert! Today I am going to review Death Skid Marks, a game with a good mix of action/roguelike with lots of cultural references and crude humor. Drive your car and crush your enemies while trying to arrive at the concert you wanted to attend. Meanwhile, upgrade your car and the crew, encounter various enemies and challenges on the road.

Pros

  • Simple, but engaging gameplay
  • Roguelike elements (random factor on upgrading chars / car / getting tasks)
  • Action packed, something’s going on all the time
  • Distinct style, great interface, you spend less time customizing your car and more time playing

Cons

  • Bosses just wreck you at first (no tips even if you die lots of time killing them). Those are really hard, very big contrast to random encounters.

In conclusion, I have to say that the game is great, but it really is not a game for kids, lots of swearing and alcohol/drug references.

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Feature Screnshot taken from Death Skid Marks store page, here