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Game Info:

Risk of Rain 2
Developed By: Hopoo Games
Published By: Gearbox Publishing
Released: March 28, 2019 (Early Access)
Available On: Windows
Genre: Action, Roguelike
ESRB Rating: Rating Pending
Number of Players: up to four players co-op
Price: $19.99
(Humble Store Link)

Back in 2014, I came across a 2D roguelike called Risk of Rain, developed by the small team of Hopoo Games. It was and still is a very enjoyable, yet very janky and broken game. Even with the numerous issues that the game has, some that were unable to be fixed due to the engine of the game, I ended up putting hundreds of hours into the game across the five years of me playing it. It helped that Hopoo Games supported their game as best they could over the years and thus developed a niche and passionate community. Of course with the announcement of a sequel in development—I was raring for more Risk of Rain action.

Its announcement was also the subject of controversy. Hopoo decided to change the sequel from a 2D action roguelike to a 3D action roguelike. Instead of controlling similar to a platformer game like Risk of Rain 1, Risk of Rain 2 controls more along the lines of a third-person shooter. Many people, including myself, were very suspicious as to how the overall style could translate into a radically different field of view. Hopoo stated (paraphrased) that “they felt they did all they could with the 2D style of Risk of Rain, so we decided to try out 3D.” With the game getting a rather surprise announcement of Early Access at PAX East, and by Gearbox Publisher no less, it was time to see if this rather daring design choice would work in Hopoo’s favor.

The main premise of both games is to find the teleporter in each semi-randomly procedural level, and go to the next one as enemies try to kill you, and the boss that spawns because of the teleporter. Risk of Rain 2, like its predecessor, makes an interesting take on the roguelike genre. As time increases in the game, a separate difficulty from the one chosen at the beginning called scaling difficulty increases alongside it. There are the standard difficulty choices that one can choose, with each one’s main difference being the speed of which the scaling difficulty increases. For example, if one chooses the Rainstorm (normal) difficulty, the scaling difficulty will take around ten minutes to reach the next notch, while on Monsoon (hard), it will only take six. There are other more subtle differences among the chosen difficulties as well such as the achievements you earn.

Achievements serve great importance besides bragging rights. They also unlock items and characters so it’s best to play all the difficulties at some point. The controls are rather simple. Keyboard controls are the standard WASD for movement and M1/M2 for your primary/secondary skill. The shift key is for your utility skill (which is typically movement based), the control key is to sprint, and the R key is for your special skill (which is typically an offensive skill). The space bar is to jump and E is to interact with chests. Every character controls the same but plays as different as they can due to their unique weapons and abilities. The first class you start with is the Commando who’s playstyle revolves around shooting a lot. All of his abilities have him shoot his dual pistols a lot whether it is rapid fire or piercing shots. As of this review, there are about six classes in total, ranging from the bow-wielding Huntress to the melee-based Mercenary who uses a katana.

Highlights:

Strong Points:  A great effort into translating the feel of the game in a 3D setting; excellent soundtrack; fulfilling and fast-paced gameplay either alone or with friends; lots of secrets to be found
Weak Points: The overall concept of the sequel is built more along the lines of co-op so playing solo isn’t as balanced as the original game; minor AI issues; multiplayer being client-side can mean your run can end prematurely
Moral Warnings: Violence, there is a bleed effect that is attributed to some items; the Artificer class uses some sort of techno-magic; one item, the "happiest mask" grants a small chance of spawning ghosts when enemies are defeated; the blazing enemy variants have curved horns, giving a demonic-looking appearance; there are shrines or temples that you can offer sacrifice (of money and lifeforce) to

Items augment your abilities and are a very important factor in increasing your strength. They augment all kinds of factors such as movement speed, the ability to heal faster or damage output. There is no limit to how many items you can hold, and multiples of the same items also stack so collect as much as you can as often as you can (as long as you are playing solo of course; items are not shared among players in co-op). Items can be obtained in various ways such as opening chests, obtained from defeating bosses or using 3D printers to sacrifice a set amount of items for a set item displayed. Equipment can sometimes be obtained as well as these powerful items are actives and are used via the Q key. There are exclusive items that can be obtained through the use of lunar coins, which are a special kind of currency that is carried on through subsequent playthroughs.

The sense of power can definitely be felt as progress is made. After a while, you may start to get that sense that you are unbeatable, but cockiness is a surefire way to receive a full-course meal in dirt and gravel. No matter how powerful you become, it is still very easy to die almost instantaneously. With the scaling difficulty, enemies start off rather simple and few in numbers. This won’t last for long as they will increase in numbers and intensity. Elite versions of some enemies will start to spawn, different variations of enemies will appear such as the “blazing” variants which cause a burn type of damage over time (DoT) if they hit you or if you touch them. Even the very bosses that you have been fighting will start to spawn as normal enemies. Did I forget to mention that the bosses can spawn in multiples and some bosses also have variations? This game gets very intense and hectic and will keep you on your toes constantly—just the way I like it.

For the readers who have played the predecessor I’m sure the main question that has been ringing in your head is “Well does the game translate well into 3D?” I can say yes—at least for now. As Risk of Rain 2 is still in an alpha state, they can, unfortunately, screw it all up in the final release. Something that I have seen far too many times for Early Access titles, especially in multiplayer-centric ones. As a person who put in more hours into Risk of Rain 1 than most games of this decade, it feels very different but all very familiar too. The visual style even translates well into 3D using low polygon graphics with a unique blend of shades and colors. Your character also displays most of the items collected on itself, which can range from super cool to unintentionally hilarious. The items, abilities, and equipment from the previous entry work nearly the same. I don’t know how exactly they were able to do what they did. However, the group at Hopoo are a very talented bunch of individuals.

The music of Risk of Rain is extremely good, and it was done all by the name of one man: Chris Christodoulou. I always find myself going back to his work. In Risk of Rain, he perfectly captures the sense of being on an unknown planet among beings that you are unfamiliar with. The subtle calmness of exploring matched with the blaring intensity of strings and percussion when the teleporter activates and everything starts to get serious. Words aren’t nearly enough to describe, so I feel it’s better if you listen to it yourself.

Risk of Rain 2
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 84%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

As Risk of Rain 2 is still in Early Access, there are bound to be issues present. Most are very minor in nature, which is very surprising considering the monumental task that they put upon themselves. There are some things such as going out of bounds if you end up becoming too fast, and certain enemies not acting the way they are supposed to. It holds up well as the only time I started to experience a slowdown on my mid-high range computer build was when more than half a dozen bosses were on the screen shooting off their fireworks display simultaneously. Other minor issues are that the game was built more alongside co-op than single player, so the solo experience is slightly less balanced against it. After the two-hundred minute mark (which is well above three hours) enemies start to have an irregular spawning, whether it's too much or way too little. Multiplayer is client-side, so if the hosting player ends up quitting, they ruin the whole experience for everyone else.

Risk of Rain 1 was never morally concerning outside of bleed effects from items, the whole shrine aspects where you can offer money for items or a percentage of life for money, and violence—the same goes for its sequel for the most part. Outside of the previously mentioned points, the Artificer is the sorcerer of this game and utilizes what is basically "magic" to her beck and call. One unlockable item, the "happiest mask" grants a small chance of spawning ghosts of the defeated enemies to fight by your side. Encountered throughout the game, there are blazing enemy variants that have curved horns—giving off a demonic-like appearance. There are logs that exist that are obtained from collecting items, unlocking classes, and sometimes dropped from enemies. I haven’t unlocked all the logs that the game has available but from what I’ve seen outside of some dark imagery, there isn’t much to consider in that aspect. (However, I am not saying that it doesn’t exist so keep that in mind.) As new items, characters, and logs will be added in future updates I do not know how long this statement of mine will stay true.

Hopoo Games could have simply made Risk of Rain 2 the same as the former entry and ship it out as such. Many people would have been happy with that, and I most certainly would have been among that group. They decided to do something that not a whole lot of developers attempt. Hopoo wasn’t satisfied with making the sequel more, they wanted to make it better. Risk of Rain 2 is an excellent game made by a passionate group that might just be masters of their craft. Loads of secrets to find, the unique playstyle of characters and random places of spawns, teleports, and items make every attempt feel different giving dozens of hours of replay value. It’s fun to play by yourself and even more so with a group or with friends. If you liked the first entry you owe it to yourself to buy this sequel. If you have a tight-knit group to play games with or simply love multiplayer games, get it now—there are plenty of others to play with. It’s hard to say whether or not the end product will be better than the previous entry as comparing an alpha build to five years of progress and updates isn’t exactly the fairest comparison, but if they continue to do what they are doing, they may just exceed that plateau.

About the Author

Cinque Pierre

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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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