Years back, the mere virtue of being an indie platformer meant instant red-carpet roll-out attention. The Xbox Live Arcade and Steam ushered in countless classics, and some not-so-memorable, yet ultimately profitable titles that are still a part of the gaming conversation. In the current climate, you need to do a lot to stand out. Just about everyone is trying to chase those dollar signs with roguelike tendencies and classic 2D gameplay, and although the aptly named Rogue Stormers has a lot of the same qualities as its predecessors, it doesn’t do enough to really break away from the pack.
There are really no surprises here—it’s a twin-stick shooter with roguelike elements (permadeath and randomized settings). There’s a small map, light exploration, and lots of combat. It ticks all the right boxes for action fans, but has some pacing issues. Simply put, there aren’t many different tiers of foes to fight; they’re mostly all just sponges. Small enemies, flying enemies, larger baddies—they all take a lot of firepower to go down, and in many cases where generators are afoot, it gets tedious to the point where you want to zoom away to the next area. It’s not a testament of difficulty, more so one of a grating feeling.
That’s not to say that Rogue Stormers is bad though, far from it. Generally, jumping around, flitting about with boosters and blowing things up (including some environmental cues) all feel great. The variety of power-ups and abilities, as well as the gameplay diversity of the cast is admirable. After unlocking my first character by progressing through the campaign I was inspired to do more just to see how the rest operated, which is always a good thing. Not only that, but uncovering all of the ancillary items on the main menu was a journey. Advanced concepts like rocket-jumping also help its case quite a bit.
Randomly generated mechanics have the potential to be misused, but I actually don’t mind them here. Outside of a few entrances that aren’t very clearly marked (forcing players to rely more on the mini-map than actually figuring out solutions in the game world), the layouts work and provide a decent provision of areas that stand out from playthrough to playthrough. Sadly, framerate issues on PC, even when using a high performance system, don’t encourage exploration on account of not wanting to run into a horde of enemies. This is even following a patch that supposedly addressed those issues. Enemies, again, feel more like sponges than anything, leaving a relative sour taste despite the open-ended nature of the game world.
Its main saving grace is a co-op mode (both local and online, which is a rarity in indie games like this) that significantly improves the pacing of the game. Having multiple allies in tandem with extra firepower and different abilities mixes things up and gives you a better response to what the game throws at you, but as usual, co-op is certainly a crutch for what should be a better solo experience.