Games with pixel graphics. They can really be deceiving. Their simplistic approach to graphics can drive many players away, especially today when AAA games and indie titles alike, bring their A game in visuals, creating huge, beautiful worlds based on real life or impossible fantasy and sci-fi locations. But some developers, with their games, take a different approach. Either due to creative choices or a tight budget, they make a throwback to the games of old where lack of technology made it so that focus was entirely on the gameplay, narrative and other areas to sell the game. And these kinds of games you should really be paying attention to because more often than not, they push the boundaries of entire genres as they approach a game from a different perspective.
One such game is Streets Of Rogue. A game that you will start with little to no expectations, but one that will probably afford you more fun than big budget titles with six digit budgets. How is that so you wonder? Read on to find out.
Streets Of Rogue is available for purchase on Steam for 14,99€.
You start Streets Of Rogue as a member of the Resistance. It sounds more serious than it is, as the hilarious tutorial level will show you. The Resistance is there to resist the terror of the Major – the main villain of the game. You have to stop his terrible laws, worst of all being the banning of chicken nuggets because they gave him a slight tummy ache, thus turning them into a valuable commodity that you can trade for just about any upgrade in the game.
The story, although hilarious serves only as a backdrop from a gameplay perspective since in Streets Of Rogue you basically create your own story. Want to be a rogue soldier mercenary? You can. Want to be a doctor? You can. Want to be a gorilla that everyone attacks on sight? Why not? A rich banker addicted to drugs? Yes, sir. Create your own story with your own character and decide how you will approach the open world that the game is set in.
Streets Of Rogue plays from a top-down perspective. It's fighting and shooting system is much like Hotline Miami. Use WASD to move, and point and click in the direction you want to melee or shoot. But that is where the similarities end. You have a central hub area where you can spend your hard earned chicken nuggets for upgrades and chose a character with which you will conquer the city. The city is made up of levels. Currently available are only the lower levels consisting of slums and industrial type of setting. They are procedurally generated so they offer enough variety when coupled with numerous variables that can completely change the way you approach going through them. These variables range from different NPC's with their own unique skills and weapons, hazards, security systems, graveyards, traps and other. To get you through each of these floors you pick one, out of many different characters, each with his own set of skills, items, and perks.
Additionally, you can purchase new perks, items, mutators and each can completely change your experience with a given level. Sometimes, certain items don't drop from enemies which will block you from obtaining certain items which will encourage more playthroughs and further experimenting. And that is the word of the day. Experimenting. This game is a prime example of a sandbox. You have so many options to chose from and so many variables that even with a handful of floors currently available – the game can eat your time easy.
Few examples of my playthroughs. I first tried to approach it like an action game, choosing the soldier as my character. As I tried to brute force my way into a building to retrieve an item from a locked safe I was attacked by two armed goons that were hired to patrol the premises. After managing to defeat them and retrieving the item, I was left severely wounded and tried to avoid further confrontations which would lead to my certain death. But, the soldier lacks the skillset for much else than giving and taking damage so I was quickly dispatched by slavers whose slave selling ways I tried to stop.
In another playthrough, I chose a hacker, who's skillset allows him to hack security systems, gas the buildings, open doors, attract NPC's to machines and other. I breezed through the first level, turning the security turret against my target and swooping in for the required items. The second level, I attacked some graves, hoping to turn my hacker into a grave robber but this attracted the attention of some ghosts and all my attacks went right through them as they pounded me into a mush.
This is just a taste of the craziness that this game can offer. Every character can offer you dozens of amazing and dynamic stories when you consider all the variables that go into a single playthrough. And this is only early access with much more content to come.
The game features a 4-player co-op locally and online and it takes the whole thing to another level. Consider the above and imagine the chaos that can ensue when you synergize different skill sets from different characters. It's great fun and it can be as orderly or as chaotic as you want it to be. It can get fairly easy to do missions when there are more players but further updates and promises of more city floors with increasing difficulty are set to right this wrong.
Graphics and sound
As mentioned, Streets Of Rogue is presented in a pixelated manner, and this carries with it a certain dose of retro charm. Early access means that there is not a lot of variety in terms of levels as the only thing on offer are the dark slum areas. Sound effects are serviceable and the soundtrack already features some great tracks that further enhance the retro 8-bit feel of the game.
All I can say is – give this game a go. It's fairly cheap and the content on offer will keep you entertained with plenty more to come. Create your own stories and share them if you can. I didn't even realize how much fun they were until I wrote them for the purpose of this preview. You can check the Steam reviews page and see the craziness people have encountered while playing. This is a prime example of an indie game done right where fun takes center stage.