In Pylon: Rogue you are a hero charged with ridding the procedurally generated world of monsters. Quantum Squid Interactive nails what a roguelike should be; fun, fast-paced, and the ability to jump in for quick gameplay sessions. As you progress through levels, you will unlock the path to the boss, where you will be challenged to the brink of frustration.
Pylon: Rogue can be found on Steam for a cool $14.99.
Outside of the basic storyline in these types of games, which is you being a hero in charge of saving the world from certain doom, there isn't a grander story. It is hard to have one in a game where you will repeatedly die and have to start over, with the same class or a different one. Games such as Rogue Legacy try to make it feel like there is some grand plan in place, but ultimately, it's 'kill all the monsters until you beat the boss, rinse, repeat'. Those that crave a deep and intriguing story need to look elsewhere, but anyone who knows what a roguelike is, shouldn't be expecting that.
When games claim to give endless replayability due to procedurally generated levels, I feel it is a very misleading marketing tactic. Yes, you may go quite a few runs before you see something twice, but patterns definitely emerge. Once you see a particular level style once, every proceeding one feels the same. Throw in the same monster types with each style, and there is little to differentiate one desert run from the next. The good thing is that with each death you have a chance to get a different biome, which can help break up this feeling.
While I do thoroughly enjoy games with this feature, procedural generation is not new and most games are taking this route. Hand-crafted levels are becoming rarer by the month unless you only play AAA single-player games. This is not Diablo or Path of Exile, but those games don't get boring seeing the same level design again and again. Perhaps this is just a personal preference, but I would have liked to see levels made by human hands rather than an algorithm. Luckily the other gameplay aspects make this point a minor annoyance rather than a detriment to the whole game.
I was hesitant when I saw that the combat was centered around a one-button style, but I really enjoyed it. Simple yet versatile. Left click will do a basic attack and you can chain four of those together. Holding left click will do a charge attack (aka power attack). Depending on your class, chaining different amounts of basic and charge attacks will do different combos. With the assassin type character, a jump attack will become a tornado of steel.
Along with the attacks, you get an ultimate ability, which uses scrolls to recharge. You can do up to four ultimates before you run out of charges, assuming enemies or chests don't drop one. After beating a level, you are able to enter the store, where you can fully recharge your scrolls, so don't be afraid to use one if your health gets dangerously low.
Each class has its strengths and weaknesses, so finding the one that works the best with your playstyle is key to progressing further. Right-clicking will perform a defensive ability that negates any incoming damage except AoE (Area of Effect). Learning to use this ability correctly, timing it perfectly when you see an enemy attack, is rewarding and gives you the feeling of dancing in combat. Few games do this fluidly, especially using only two buttons.
This is measured in two ways; character and map. Character progression is done by obtaining gems, the in-game currency, to purchase items to make yourself stronger or recharging your health/scrolls. Once you die, everything is reset and you start fresh, with the only things that carry over are any items you unlock in various ways. These can be found in the main menu in the Unlocks tab. Hovering over a locked item will tell you what you need to do to unlock it, which ranges from killing a certain monster to buying so many health potions.
Map progression is done by beating levels highlighted with blue portals. There is a path system much like what you see in Super Mario 3 which sometimes lead to big chests. A map has four levels and beating a level will unlock one of the padlocks floating around the boss level. However, the difficulty increases greatly with each new level. Mostly this is done with more enemies, but you will also be introduced to new ones that have special attacks you need to learn to avoid. Once reaching the third or fourth level, your ultimate ability will become essential to survival, even playing one of the classes that have high maneuverability.
Once you reach the boss level, you will be in for a real test of endurance. Despite numerous playthroughs and finding the archer class the easiest to use for me, I only reached the boss level once. Here you will need to be a master of your defensive ability as well as quickly being able to strike when an opening appears. Making just one or two mistakes here will make it increasingly harder as there are stages to the boss, where it becomes more aggressive as you drop its health. Unfortunately, the last stage became impossible for me to even get a shot off, but I had used up all of my ultimates. With a massive amount of spawned enemies and AoE attacks, all I could do was dash around until I died. There is an obelisk after the boss level which I was unable to reach, but I am guessing you progress to a new map with harder enemies and another boss. Hopefully, I will be able to unlock this mystery some day.
Graphically, the game has a nice look and reminds me a lot of Diablo III, both with the levels and monsters. Not that it's a bad thing though because the types of monsters are your typical fantasy setting ones. Spiders, bees, and zombies are all pretty standard and devoting lots of time to make something unique isn't necessary. The animations of the different attacks, along with their special effects, are well done and have weight to them.
Sounds are a bit lacking and generic, maybe even a bit too much bass in everything. With it being such a straightforward game, I am not sure if there is anything that could be done about this. After you have played so many RPGs or roguelikes over the years, it takes some pretty impressive sound design to pop out and differentiate itself from the crowd.
Pylon: Rogue finds itself in a weird place for me. While it is nothing truly special and unique, it is still able to hold my attention. Whether that is due to the simplistic design of the combat or the addictiveness of the difficulty, I don't know, nor do I really care. It is a game that I have already recommended to a few friends and one that doesn't require an abundance of time to play. Sometimes you just need a game that you can load up for ten or twenty minutes to relieve some stress. Yet the procedural generation algorithm makes all the levels feel the same, which is kind of off-putting. In the end though, Quantum Squid Interactive has provided a good blueprint for the quick roguelike that doesn't make you throw your mouse in frustration after failure.
|+ Jump in, Jump out gameplay||– Procedural levels feel blah|
|+ Simplistic yet diverse combat mechanic||– Sounds felt too bassy and didn't stand out|
|+ Classes give the player numerous playstyle choices|
|+ Lots of items to unlock|