For some, Rogue-likes currently over-saturate the indie market, but in a crowded sea, some can truly stand out. Weather playing it alone, or with friends, Roguelands provided an experience that was not only unlike anything I had ever enjoyed but was ultimately worth every penny.
Roguelands does not have a story, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Upon launching the game, you pick your race and two attributes that you would like to increase each time you level up, ranging from faith, strength, vitality, amongst others. These attributes determine your class, which comes in handy in creating your perfect setup. Roguelands’ narrative (or the lack of), was truly admirable, as it allowed my creativity to truly develop my hero’s own story, which subconsciously forced me to build an unnaturally strong bond with my character – which many games in the genre fail to deliver.
Tailoring the character to your likes becomes fundamental during the rest of your playthrough, as the game’s crafting system becomes immediately dependent on your stats. Having a high dexterity will make you a gunner, having a high strength will make you a blademaster, and so forth. This mixture of crafting and stats quickly became my favourite feature of Roguelands, as it avoided unnecessary grinding that can sometimes plague other roguelikes.
Roguelands’ gameplay also feels entirely different from other offerings in the genre. The game mixes 2D side-scrolling platform, with fluid combat that is activated by pressing your trackpad. Combat feels smooth, but above all very satisfying after hours of continuous attempts at mastering it, something that is essential when making a proper roguelike.
Besides its unique emphasis on character customization and gameplay, Roguelands also offers a high level of variety in its levels and difficulty. From dirty swamps, to frosty mountains, to lands completely occupied by lava, Roguelands’ different environments look, and feel truly astonishing, smoothening the entire gameplay experience. While failing to introduce proper difficulty settings could have quickly ruined its smooth level diversity, Roguelands responds to this fantastically well. By utilizing the game’s currency, which is quickly gained throughout levels, players are allowed to buy different difficulty settings, in turn completely changing how a sections play out.
However, not everything can be perfect, and while Roguelands shines in most areas, it lacks in one fundamental sector: developer support. As of this review, developer SmashGames has announced that it will completely stop developing updates for Roguelands, mostly due to personal reasons. While this is one evident flaw of small development studios, SmashGames’ choice in abandoning Roguelands has upset its community, mainly due to the game being abandoned when it isn’t anywhere near bug-free. This point becomes vital when recommending Roguelands to anyone, because although the game offers a fun, and mostly smooth game experience, these unsolved bugs completely take away the illusion of being in your own world.
To add on to its lack of polish, Roguelands comes with an online mode, but it can’t be accessed by Steam. Instead, players wishing to play with their friends have to use secondary systems like Hamachi. This is not a great thing, as during my experience, the game’s online was Roguelands’ main selling point. This could have been easily solved by updates, but as stated earlier, this simply won’t happen.
Roguelands is a good example of how the indie market can in some ways be better, and some ways worse than bigger studios endeavours. Where it shines with proper artistic choices, smooth gameplay, and customization that feels relevant, it completely disregards itself by being completely forgotten by its own developer. For its low price of $10.99 CAD, I can easily recommend Roguelands for a more than unique roguelike experience, but for those that can be easily bothered by the game’s lack of proper online, and discontinued developer support, there are much better options in the market.