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Rogue-Like

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Streets of Rogue
    Developed By: Matt Dabrowski
    Published By: tinyBuild
    Released: Preview
    Available On: macOS, Windows, Linux
    Genre: Rogue-Like
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Number of Players: 1-4 Players local or online
    Price: $14.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Streets of Rogue is a roguelite twin-stick RPG sandbox brawler stealth game. It has randomly generated levels with permadeath and enemies to punch and shoot. There are also role-playing game mechanics such as leveling up stats, and even hiding from enemies to avoid them. Every objective can be completed through multiple solutions, and it’s up to you to decide how you play.

    You play as one of a large cast of characters, traversing through cities doing whatever objectives the game gives you. The variety of options for completion depends on the items you get and the character you have chosen. Have a machinegun and want to cause chaos? Go for it. Want to throw a syringe into a ventilation system, causing everybody in that building to run outside? You can do that too. Use an item to blind everybody in the room, and sneak by? Why not? It is completely up to you on how you play.

    There are a ton of characters to choose from, such as the Gorilla, Hacker, Assassin, Shopkeeper, Bartender, and so on. Each character has different abilities that change how you play. The Slum Dweller can yell, causing people to come to you, wondering what the ruckus is about. The Cop can arrest people. The Vampire can suck someone’s blood. Every character is unique, and your strategy changes depending on the character. If you want to make your own characters, you can do that as well, mixing and matching abilities from preset characters.

    Along with a diverse set of characters, you can find many items in each level. There are syringes, which you don’t know what they do until you use them. There are guns, baseball bats, swords, tasers, grenades, and other sorts of weaponry. There are lock picks, hacking tools, and hypnotizers. Because of the large item variety, you can end up with multiple ways to play. The game gives you ways to be aggressive, but you can be stealthy or even pacifist at the same time. You have a lot of freedom in what you want to do.

    Streets of Rogue
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Replayable; innovative; multiple ways to play.
    Weak Points: Minor balance issues.
    Moral Warnings: Pixelated gore; sexual references; immoral characters; human violence; occult references; alcohol; minor cursing (d**n, a**)

    Each level is full of life. Opposing gang members will attack each other, and if a cop sees it, they will chase after them. If a thief is inside a store, the shopkeeper will chase him out. Goons will guard various buildings. It all makes everything feel real, just like you’re in a real city. If you do something violent or suspicious, cops will attack, or people will go outside to investigate. You must be mindful of everyone and everything that happens. You can buy items from a shopkeeper, or hire a gang member to do what you ask, or even have the police ignore crimes.

    The levels can have a few kinds of objectives. Sometimes you have to neutralize an NPC. Or you have to operate 3 or 4 buttons inside a building. Or grab an item from a safe. You can do almost every objective either violently or pacifically. Every time you complete an objective, you get rewarded with an item or some gold. Completing objective can be done simply, or through a complex set of planning and thought. It all depends on your playstyle.

    There is some permanent progression. You can unlock items, traits you can get from leveling up, or even mutators which change how the game works. If you complete an area a few times, you can get an elevator that goes straight to that floor instead of always starting from the beginning.

    You get experience by doing various things inside a level. When you level up, you go back up to full health. At the end of the floor, you can choose from different abilities that alter the game. These can be things like “increased critical chance” or “make items cost less” and other simple things. Most of the traits to choose from don’t do anything super significant, but make the game easier and give you a small advantage.

    Streets of Rogue
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - -5/5

    Morality Score - 56%
    Violence - 1.5/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 6.5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 5/10

    The controls are easy to understand and work well. Keyboard & mouse or a gamepad can be used. The game is viewed from a top-down perspective. Keyboard controls are WASD to move, left click to attack, and right click to use the character’s ability. You have a small inventory to store the items you have picked up, and the inventory is easy to access, and doesn’t slow down the action. On the gamepad it controls just as well, using standard twin stick controls (left stick to move, right stick to aim). There’s a tutorial you can play through that explains everything clearly, and teaches you the basics. Local co-op works perfectly, even having splitscreen for 16:9 resolutions. Online co-op works just as well, I had no latency or bug issues when playing.

    There is little to no story, but it seems like you are a part of a resistance. Unfortunately, that’s all the game tells you as far as lore. The sound is good; hitting and killing things sounds satisfying, when you get caught, it makes a tink, and everything sounds like it should sound. Visually it is nice to look at, and everything is distinct and even under chaotic situations, you can always tell what’s going on. The soundtrack is a sort of jazz, fitting the theme of cities well, though the game does need a few more tracks.

    Streets of Rogue has some minor balance issues. In multiplayer, depending on what characters you choose, you can tear through levels at ease, making the game too easy for its roguelite nature. The character customization lets you make characters that are downright unfair; you can take an ability that originally had downsides and completely remove the cons, making it very easy to make a broken character. It is probably by design, but the inventory feels too small in the late-game, meaning you have to manage your items and you end up with a full inventory quickly.

    There are quite a few moral issues here. To start off, there are some morally inappropriate characters. One of the big ones is the slavemaster, which enables you to enslave any citizen, and forcefully have them do your bidding. There’s also undead, gang members, and a naked shapeshifter, who can possess people at will. There are drugs you can take, such as an “electro pill” which you take and it makes you stronger. There’s also whisky and beer, which contain no side-effects. You can equip underwear, which gives you a small amount of armor. You can use syringes either on yourself or others. The violence is usually against humans, and has some pixelated gore. Violence is sometimes the answer when completing objectives, and usually has you going into restricted areas of a building without permission.

    Even if this game is not the most morally acceptable, it is really fun and addicting. The sandbox-like gameplay keeps you engaged for hours without it ever getting repetitive. I can see myself playing this game for a long, long time, and it’s only in early access! I can’t wait to see what they add to this gem.

    - Kinix

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Tallowmere
    Developed by: Chris McFarland
    Published by: Teyon
    Release date: November 9, 2017
    Available on: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Switch, Wii U, Windows
    Genre: Platformer
    Number of players: 1-4 players
    ESRB Rating: Teen for blood, gore, and violence
    Price: $6.99

     

    Thank you Teyon for sending us this game to review!

    There’s not much of a story in Tallowmere besides trying to survive princess Tallowmere’s randomly generated dungeons to impress her. Before you depart, you can partake in various challenges or you can talk to the Grim Reaper to increase the difficulty of the game by taking on some punishments on your run through the dungeon. There is an option to make the game easier, but it has a cost. To get a health boost, you can sacrifice a kitten or a few of them. Not only do they lose their life in a bloody way, but your progress will be stored on a separate scoreboard than those who play on the standard difficulty. Last but not least is a shop keeper who sells different loot each time you talk to him. Unfortunately, you don’t start off with any gold, just a basic axe, shield, and a health potion.

    You can always backtrack to princess Tallowmere and she will restore your health. If you're lucky, you may find blue flames that can teleport you back to the main area for healing or shopping. You may also come across transparent princess Tallowmeres that can heal you on the spot. I recommend holding off on using a health potion unless it’s an emergency. Completed rooms do not respawn enemies once they are defeated. The traps to remain in place though. On your way back to the princess you’ll still have to mind the spiked surfaces, spinning saw blades, and acid spewing walls.

    Tallowmere
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun roguelike that keeps having you coming back for more; fun co-op gameplay
    Weak Points: The Switch version is $3 more expensive than the other platforms
    Moral Warnings: Mild language (d*mn); bloodshed and the ability to sacrifice kittens in exchange for a health boost; magic use; you must collect souls and offer them up to a demon statue to increase your power

    Each new dungeon room has various enemies that have different abilities and fighting styles. Some foes will rush in towards you while others have ranged attacks. Many of the ranged attacks can be thwarted with your shield, but not all of them. Some of the enemies will hurl fire or lightning toward you. Another particularly nasty attack is one that stuns you for a couple of seconds. Every few rooms the enemies will grow stronger.

    Despite the odds being stacked against you, all hope is not lost. For each defeated enemy you’ll collect their soul. After enough souls are collected, you can take them to a demon statue and trade them in for a power and health boost. The amount of souls needed for a power boost increases with each “offering”. Besides leaving their souls behind, the enemies will often drop gold and an occasional health restoring heart.

    Treasure chests are always a welcome find and usually have nice weapons or armor in them. One of my favorite weapons I had in my possession was an emerald blade that masked my presence and enabled me to make sneak attacks. It also restored my health by six points every few seconds. As cool as this weapon was it didn’t last long because you only get one life and if you die, all of your loot is gone and the dungeon will be randomized and different on your next adventure.

    Tallowmere
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 72%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 6/10
    Sound - 6/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 68%
    Violence - 4/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    If you have friends to play alongside you, your odds of survival go up as you can revive each other. Health hearts are shared but the treasure chest loot is not so you’ll have to play nice and share the wealth so to speak. Setting up the co-op game took a little effort as you have to go into the game’s menu and start a new co-op game. The Switch controllers will have to be configured and each player’s name will need to be entered to tell them all apart in the game.

    The visuals have a retro look to them and are nothing too special. There’s a fair amount of variety in the enemies and if you can survive long enough, some fierce boss battles await you. With the enemy deaths there is plenty of bloodshed. Although I’m not a fan of killing kittens or demons, I’m more leery of the soul offerings than the spilling of blood.

    The sound effects are equally retro in nature and are nothing too complex. There are some voice overs and they sound computerized. Background music is present, but it’s forgettable.

    In the end, my son and I enjoyed playing this game together. It’s fun with friends or by yourself. With the randomized dungeons, it will be a different experience each time you play it. This game also has the “one more time!” thing going for it. The portability of the Switch version is great, however, other mobile platforms are only a fraction of the price. The Android version sells for $1.99 and the Steam edition is $3.99. If you like challenging roguelikes, the Switch version of Tallowmere is worth picking up if you don’t mind killing kittens and offering souls to demon statues.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Wizard of Legend
    Developed By: Contingent99
    Published By: Contingent99/Humble Bundle
    Release Date: May 15, 2018
    Available On: Windows, macOS, SteamOS/Linux, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
    Genre: Action Rogue-like beat ‘em up
    Number of Players: 1-2
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
    MSRP: $15.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Humble Bundle for sending us this game to review!

    I have to admit, when I first saw this game I thought ‘oh joy, yet another pixel art game’. And yet, when I started to play it, it became pretty clear that this game is not just a cheap cash-in, but instead a carefully crafted, tough-as-nails action beat ‘em up where you try to defeat the three elemental wizards, and then the ultimate one to become a Wizard of Legend – one of the very few to complete the Chaos Trails. It also helped that the music was fantastic, and not a lazy chiptune effort; it's an orchestral and electronic hybrid, and is simply wonderful.

    The story is fairly simple: there is a museum about the titular wizard, and part of the exhibit is you can pay to spend time with a basic set of arcana, a.k.a. spells or skills, where you go through a small recreation of what a chaos trial may have been like. At the end, you touch a monument, and you are unexpectedly magically transported to a new place where you have the chance to actually become a real Wizard of Legend – by partaking in the actual Chaos Trials.

    The action takes place on a 2D plane, where you see your hero fight from up above, and you use your basic, dash, standard, or signature skills to pound the enemies into little bits. Thankfully, they just disappear when they die. Enemies include other wizards, ninjas, suits of armor, various blobs, zombie-like shadow creatures, golems, and so on. It’s all very fast-paced, and very, very, difficult.

    Wizard of Legend
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent music; very nice pixel art; action feels great; levels are unique each time; lots of loot to look forward to; extreme difficulty
    Weak Points: Extremely difficult
    Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence; magic is used by both enemies and the player

    What struck me about this game soon after playing it is that it’s really all up to the player in order to progress – you can and do earn new arcana (which are spells/skills that you use in combat) and relics, which make you stronger. But at the end of the day, the difference on success or failure is almost completely reliant on player skill. It’s not a super long game; you can easily beat it in one sitting, and in less than two hours. But the chances of that happening are extremely slim unless you are superhuman, or had tons of practice (or you’re cheating).

    The general pattern of the game is like so: there are three elemental masters, of fire, ice and earth. (Air and electricity are also in-game arcana, but do not have a master. Chaos unlocks as playable after beating the game; again, no master.) Each element has two levels, and then a boss battle. On each level there are three shops to discover, where you can use gold you earned that run to buy temporary arcana, relics, or sometimes other things like heals or cursed items. Then there is a miniboss to get to the next level. Once you clear both levels of an element, you have the elemental masters. Once all three are defeated, you have the final boss. Good luck – you are going to need it.

    This game is quite difficult. It is fun the entire time – I never felt like I was wasting my time, except when I died before gathering a good amount of gems, which are the only things in a run that stay with you if you don’t beat the game that time through. Level layout, enemy order, and loot/store contents are all randomly generated. I am ashamed to say that this was the first time I have ever installed Cheat Engine; I love challenging games, but the player improvement curve is such that equipment alone is not enough.

    Wizard of Legend
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 86%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    In most games, there is a balance between training the player and equipping the player, such that as you get stronger, the game gets easier, or stays approximately as difficult, but the earlier areas get easier. In this game, the earlier areas get easier less because you get better equipment (though you do), but more because you get more skilled. The result is that a moment of laziness or lack of caution can doom that run such that you need to start again. While there is better gear to get, honestly the starting arcana are good enough such that if you had to, you could do quite well with only that if you have the skill; and, if you don’t have the skill, you won’t get all that much farther even if you have a loadout that lead to victory for another.

    Wizard of Legend is quite an excellent rogue-like action RPG. Each run, despite following a similar outline, is largely unique; enemies, treasures, shops, and more are all randomly generated. Combat is tons of fun, and finding the perfect combination of arcana, relics, and armor can make a significant difference, even if it all comes down to skill in the end. I agree with the ESRB’s E10+ rating; there is magic and fantasy violence; the strangest magic spells were ones that summoned a circle with a geometric shape inside; there were no pentagrams that I saw. The rest are common elemental spells like fireballs or icicles. Co-op is fun too, though surprisingly didn’t make the game all that much easier since the other player was less skilled. Overall, Wizard of Legend gets an easy recommendation – as long as you are willing to put in the time to learn the game to its fullest.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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