Rogue Lords Review
The genre direction of roguelike games is becoming more popular every year. Developers from all over the world are experimenting with the formula of random content generation, being in a relentless search for the perfect balance.
This year, the Cyanide Studio and Leikir Studio teams decided to share their view on the idea of an exciting “bagel” by releasing Rogue Lords, a tactical turn-based game made in the aesthetics of Western horror, myths and folklore.
Trying to recharge with their own style, Rogue Lords goes against the flow and discards cliches about saving the world by a group of brave heroes. Here you have to take the role of the Devil himself - a powerful, insidious and vile villain. Unfortunately, even before the main events of the plot, the devil's army was defeated, the villainous brotherhood was defeated, and people turned to the new religion of Light, which grew around the world along with the craft of evil hunters.
Unwilling to accept defeat, the Devil harbored a plan of revenge, gathered under his command the most frightening Lords of the night and is now preparing to take revenge. With your help, of course.
Despite the fact that in Rogue Lords you act as the Devil, it is the Lords mentioned above that are your main characters, actors and tools necessary for victory. Count Dracula, the Headless Horseman, Bloody Mary, Frankenstein's Monster, Lilith and others found their haven under one roof. Each hero is a unique unit with a set of skills and strengths and weaknesses, on which the basic features of the gameplay are built.
Format Rogue Lords moves along the usual rails. You assemble your squad, launch a new map, some of the content on which is modified randomly, and proceed to the passage. The order of the levels is linear, and implies the fulfillment of a global goal, namely the search for several magical relics stolen by Van Helsing.
At each level, you will find a selection of various activities, such as plot scenes with the participation of the Lords, a shop with items, boosters of characteristics and battles directly.
The battles in the game are presented in a step-by-step mode. At the beginning of each round, the opponent performs a series of actions, after which the turn passes to you. Each step consumes a special resource, which is divided between your three Masters, forcing you to carefully choose the most optimal skills. At the same time, the abilities themselves also have independent charges - in order to use a strong technique several times in a row, it must first be "recharged” with a separate skill.
Skills are divided into different, but familiar categories. At your disposal are attacking abilities, status effects, buffs and debuffs, damage multipliers and much more. Applying the right combination of statuses is the key to your victory, but you need to do it very carefully, not forgetting to monitor the state of your party and the actions of your opponents.
In the variety of mechanics offered by Rogue Lords, another memorable system helps to understand, namely the possibility of direct "cheating". Since the Devil is not shy about dirty play, and even omnipotent - you can directly influence almost any game elements at any time. For example, no one will stop you from increasing health for your team. Or from throwing an unwanted status effect back to the enemy. When it comes to plot forks, the probability of a successful dice roll can be adjusted to suit yourself. And if one or another path through the map seems ineffective or too dangerous - just open the portal and forget about any problems.
But it is obvious that even the permissiveness of (almost) absolute power has its reasonable limits. Cheating, you get a penalty to your energy points every time. If you lose it completely, the game will end, offering to immediately start a new race.
The combination of legal "cheats” and the need for management of already limited resources gives Rogue Lords a pleasant and little-like dynamic. Having entered into a battle with a particularly strong monster, you are always free to finish it instantly, but your own vital energy will be the price. The dilemma about the reward-to-risk ratio is stronger than ever.
You can influence your successes not only by relying on the devil's power, but also on a great many other variables. Moving along the global map, you gradually accumulate a scale of fear - the quality of the relics and skills that come across depends on it, as well as small bonuses to the characteristics. But the reverse situation is also relevant - you may stumble upon traps that severely limit your combat potential, which often leads to defeat.
Fortunately, failure here is an inevitable part of the game. Rogue Lords offers a meta-progression system where you are constantly improving. Increasing the level opens access to new skills, new Lords and relics, which, together with the growing experience of the player himself, makes each new “run” more exciting.
However, be prepared that you will have to die really often in Rogue Lords. The way forward consists of a dozen random factors, so, for example, an unsuccessful set of relics or abilities caught at the beginning of the race can bury even the most promising attempts to conquer the level in advance.
The same applies to the "plot" bosses. Almost every one of them requires very thoughtful tactics and an optimized party. Not knowing in advance what to expect from the battle, it is simply not worth counting on an easy victory - be ready to start over.
The repetitiveness of the game also dilutes the successful audiovisual style. While exploring the fog-shrouded maps, the heroes encounter minimalistic locations and points of interest. Interactions with them switch the perspective to a close acquaintance with various illustrations - ancient crypts, ritual stones and other interesting things.
In battle, cartoon monsters and monsters are expressively animated, attacks are accompanied by bright flashes and effects. This also includes the soundtrack - simple, effective and not much distracting from making complex gameplay decisions.
Trying to stay within the dark comedy, Rogue Lords pays a lot of attention to its heroes. The lords react differently to certain scenes, and in some cases they can even engage in small verbal skirmishes - to praise or, conversely, to scold each other.
The external simplicity and accessibility of Rogue Lords hides a complex gameplay core. The game accurately targets a specific audience of users - those who are ready to calculate the damage from the next attack with manic care, preparing to entrust victory to the chance of fate. The causal player is unlikely to like this project - genre repetitiveness and high complexity imply a relatively high entry threshold.
But it's also not worth waiting for real revelations from the new Cyanide Studio and Leikir Studio for hardcore fans of "bagels". Leaving aside the mechanics of legal cheating, the local party fight is perceived as a competent repetition of already familiar solutions - you've seen it all before, albeit in slightly different proportions.
On the eve of Halloween, Rogue Lords can be a pleasant way to brighten up your leisure time in the company of ghouls, devils and bloodsuckers. Hunters for evil spirits are not going to give indulgences, but it should not frighten you, because the Devil always plays only by his own rules.