Today we will be taking a dive into the game from TinyBuild known as Streets of Rogue.
Created by Matt Dabrowski, this impressive little Rogue-lite game is an attention grabbing first take by the developer.
So, let’s cut into this title shall we?
Streets of Rogue is aptly named, boasting a Roguelike genre game with some extremely interesting design aspects that help set it apart from the rest of it’s genre.
The game puts a heavy emphasis on player choice and freedom, offering a linear design in favor of gameplay that often feels like a cross between Grand Theft Auto and Deus Ex, even offering aspects of games like the old Metal Gear and The Binding of Isaac depending on how you choose to play. Rather than taking place in a dungeon setting like most titles, Streets of Rogue instead crafts fully functioning, procedurally generated city blocks for you to explore and toy around in to your heart’s content. Once again, I find myself faced with that indomitable fact that the switch was perfectly designed for exactly this type of game. With all respects to the other versions of this game, It cannot be understated how awesome it is to be able to take this game with you wherever you go and have couch co-op with you at all times. This functionality alone definitely helps this title as a whole and with the ability to play 4 player co-op, this game is surely on the list for great Switch party games when everyone is burned out on Smash Ultimate and Mario Kart.
We are starting with mechanics because of one reason in particular, which we will discuss in a moment. Aside from that one reason, the games mechanics are strongly polished. Moving and shooting feels great. Inventory management and weapon selection systems are all tuned for high Quality of Life and can be done in multiple ways. First off, there is a dedicated heal button that will eat food in your inventory in moments of dire need.
This is highly appreciated, as the combat in this game can get pretty crazy pretty quick. By the same notation, the shoulder bumper weapon swapping makes changing weapons quick and accurate in the heat of combat. All the while, individual items can be managed and assigned to the D-pad through the inventory. This is truly masterful quality of life management, keeping in mind the players need to get at specific items quickly, while slowing time around you if a player does need to go into their inventory.
Although, all of the solid nature of these mechanics as a whole are completely undermined by a particularly annoying bug with the movement inputs. So, I asked around on reddit about the character drifting because it wasn’t showing up in any other games I own. A few people experienced this, and It seems that this issue is not from the game, but rather is early warning signs of the dreaded “Joycon Drift” setting in. And while it is annoying that this is the reality, It’s nice to have a game warn you of such a serious problem before it becomes impossible to play any game. Streets of Rogue has a very small deadzone by default, so if your joycon is slowly succumbing to the Joycon Drift issue, It is likely to show up here before it shows up in other games.
It’s unfortunate, but also kinda nice to know that I will need to fix the issue early, before it gets much, much worse.
The story of Streets of Rogue is vague to say the least, it seems to be a classic resistance story,centered around a corrupt city mayor who has retreated to his lair high above the city streets. Not that it matters really, the game is less geared towards telling you a story and more geared towards giving you the tools to tell your own. Make enemies with whoever you like as you kill, steal, sneak and destroy your way through the stages. You play how you want, picking from a long list of diverse characters.
From the Soldier to the Gorilla, each and every character has different attributes that make them interestingly different from one another. Their strengths and their weaknesses alongside their individually crafted mission sets force you to play from each of their perspectives, varying wildly in design from one another. But once you find the character that most complements your playstyle you will know almost immediately, and stick with the character to go the distance through the stages.
I am partial to the Soldier myself, using the breaching charges and land mines to my advantage whenever possible. No matter the playstyle however, chances are there is a character here just for you. And even if you can’t find one, the game even allows you to create your own! But the true strength of this game stems directly from it’s pure replay value. Between the characters, modifiers, items, traits, rewards, missions, difficulty and the randomization of the maps, this game can be played for a number of hours before a hint of boredom even begins to set in. And as if all that wasn’t enough, random world events on the maps serve to add a level of chaos and unpredictability that can, at times, change the game as a whole.
These events can be awesome, but unfortunately at times they can also be intrusive and annoying. For example, once I found myself having to deal with a random zombie outbreak modifier was an amazing experience, forcing me to play with an entirely different method during the stage. I moved from house to house in an effort to keep myself from becoming lunch meat. Meanwhile all around me I watched as the hordes continued to grow as I watched the NPC’s fall one by one to join the horde.
By stark contrast however, I once had to deal with the “Something in the air” modifier. It would randomly drop status effects on everyone in the map. And although at first it was a cool aspect, it quickly fell apart as I was hit with three dazed and four confused status effects back to back in a row, effectively removing my ability to play the game for a solid 30 seconds. Needless to say, some of the events can be rather intrusive to the gameplay itself sometimes, forcing you to play in manners you were not trying to play in beforehand. This can be both a good thing or a very unpredictably bad thing for the gameplay at any one moment. Just be ready for anything each time you go into a new stage.
And when I mean anything, I mean anything. I would normally delegate this talk out to the gameplay section. However, Streets of Rogue is a special case. Many times I have seen things in this game that have made me stop and raise an eyebrow.
As I played this game, I slowly began to realise as I played that the NPC mechanics were far deeper than the game originally let on. All the character archetypes act in completely different ways in response to you and other NPC’s.
I have witnessed thieves following me and other targets until they knew there were no cops around, waiting until the right moment to strike. I have witnessed enemies stop and wait for flamethrowers to turn off even when attempting to attack me, rather than walking through them and taking damage. I believe I have even seen the police AI catch onto my gameplay habits, watching me as they saw me knock on a door with my shotgun out. I had been pumping shells into civilians as they answered the door, the same way I had been doing for the past two stages to get gear. But it seemed that they knew this, three cops coming over to me to simply stand there and watch me. Waiting for me to shoot.
It was very interesting to see these types of mechanics as they show themselves, and leads me to believe that the AI in this game is one of the best things about the game.
The multiplayer of Streets of Rogue can be played both split screen and single screen co-op as well as online. However, unfortunately due to the nature of the game and it’s control scheme, Streets of Rogue cannot make use of one of the strongest assets Switch has going for it. Unfortunately, it requires two joycon’s per player. This was annoying to learn about because the game can be played with up to four people, but this can only be achieved with four separate pairs of Joycons rather than two pairs split in half which is much more viable. If you are in a house with multiple Switches, it’s no problem. But In my house, co-op split screen is unplayable unless I go out and buy more sets of Joycons, which is a bit of a let down out of the box. I would have rather lost abilities, inputs and the ability to aim where I want than be forced to buy additional controllers just to play with another person.
This game sounds awesome. Period. The guns and explosions pack the punch they need, and even the melee weapons feel and sound brutal and weighty. But it’s truly the Retro synth inspired soundtrack that really brings the whole experience together.
As a fan of Retro 80’s synthwave music myself, regularly finding myself listening to artists like Dynatron and Ghost Mode, I can really appreciate the work put into the music in Streets of Rogue. Fantastic job!
Streets of Rogue is an action packed dungeon crawler unlike any other, combining traits of Deus Ex, Enter the Gungeon and Grand Theft Auto to create something spectacularly unique. And at only 19.99$ USD, the game is well worth its price tag.
It can be played for about as long as you continue to be interested in it, throwing anything and everything at you each time you play. Truly, every game should strive for the level of replayability that this game offers within its design.
And this beautiful work of art truly deserves a great rating, especially on the switch where the game can be enjoyed anywhere. Unfortunately, it was a bit disappointing that the game could not figure out how to put a player on each Joycon.
Although, I can see why this would be the case as the game requires more inputs than is on a single Joycon. It just makes me wish that the Switch had functionality for different types of controller inputs aside from their own.
Regardless, the game is a fun, action packed game for the single person as well as multiple people, and I can fully recommend this game as a gamer in both retro gaming and modern gaming.
I can also say that this game is only the first of the developer Matt Dabrowski, it is very promising and I will be watching closely as this developer makes more in the future.
8/10 – Artisanally crafted
Until next time Templars, Strike true!