Rogues Like Us is a roguelike with a lot of interesting elements to keep you coming back for more. I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I ended up having the most fun with the genre since The Binding Of Isaac.
The Story is not really in the front and center of Rogues Like Us: While there definitely is some lore present in the game and you can even uncover extra information hidden around the various levels, its not interesting enough to be the main driving force for playing. You can also talk to some NPCs in the hubworld, but they don’t have much backstory to share about themselves or the world you are in.
Graphics & Audio
The visual appeal of Rogues Like Us is immediately striking. It has a low polygon count that I personally find very pleasing and it even has the gameplay benefit of not distracting you with too many textures. Seeing as how some small zones may have many enemies coming at you, that’s a very useful aspect.
During boss battles the camera will helpfully zoom out a bit so you have a better overview and it also helps you appreciate their designs.
The action can be frantic but there are some great tunes to make you calm again. I especially adore the title music that keeps playing through the hubworld. I’ve grown to appreciate it when a game uses a lot of classical instruments for its soundtrack and that is 100% the case here with violins, harps and flutes setting the tone for the adventure. Just give the video below a quick look/listen and make sure to take in the music.
At its roots, it’s just a basic topdown hack ‘n slash. There isn’t any kind of class you can choose from and each player will start with just a basic attack, a shooting attack and a slam that pushes enemies and their projectiles backwards. What’s refreshing is that you have a dash move from the get-go with a rather quick cooldown so you’ll be using this as your main method of self-preservation.
When you’re going through a dungeon, you’ll find new weapons, shield & health upgrades and passive buffs that increase your speed, special attack damage or cooldown speed. Enemies sometimes drop cores which you can use to buy the aforementioned upgrades and after each bossfight you’ll get a trinket with an enchantment that can drastically change how you play.
The main difficulty comes from how the game saves your progression. Whenever you die or finish a dungeon, all of your acquired improvements are reset and you’ll be back down to 4 health, no shield and your default sword. Defeated bosses do leave chests behind, as well as Ultra Cores, which can be used in the hubworld to buy even more chests.
While weapon/enchantment chests will only allow those items to be found in the dungeons, armor you receive can be equipped in the hubworld, so that will probably be the wisest investment of your cores. A 2-of or 4-of set of armor will provide a specific boost for your character (+1 starting HP, faster cooldown etc). You can also find some dye bottles which can be used to visually customize the look of your character.
The fact that you lose most of your upgrades each run may make this a game that you don’t want to beat in one or two sittings. I personally found it hard to go back into a dungeon after having beaten a run: I had just gotten used to the specific playstyle my enchantments and weapon had pushed me into before and was stripped of all those benefits. At the same time, this very mechanic is what makes it so addictive.
It’s a shame the game doesn’t offer a mid-dungeon stopping point for those of us who don’t have a lot of free time on our hands though. Sometimes we just want to call it a night halfway or life happens and we have to go comfort our screaming toddler at 11PM.
What does make for a logical stopping point is beating a dungeon, which actually doesn’t take so much time if you’re a skillful player who dares to press on. If you’re brave, you can take on boss after boss without being too concerned about first buffing your character as much as possible. After each succesful run, you’ll also unlock a new portal to progress the game.
Opening such a portal will make it possible to choose another path on the worldmap, you’ll see new zones with enemies you haven’t faced before and even the bosses that are re-used will have received some kind of upgrade that makes them more difficult to slay. If you prefer to skip the opening zones, you can spend the Ultra Cores to warp you ahead, but you risk being underpowered.
I did have to play a few rounds and even double check with the developer if that was indeed how the game was meant to be played: resetting each time and really only gaining Ultra Cores and unlocking new portals to finally get to the endboss. I concluded that here may be a need for a bit more explanation about the nature of the game in the beginning but that just may be due to a lack of familiarity with the genre on my part.
Rogues Like Us is an addictive roguelike that keeps you coming back for more even after beating the main story. The different weapons, buffs and trinkets make each playthrough unique and there are plenty of items to collect for the completionists out there. It’s pleasing to look at, even more enjoyable to listen to and a bliss to play.