Title: Streets of Rogue
Developer: Matt Dabrowski
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Genre: Action, Multiplayer, Role-Playing
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: Everyone 10+ – Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco
Release Date: Out Now – 12/07/19
Price: £12.99 – Rapid Reviews UK were very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
Matt Dabrowski, a one-man-band hailing from Los Angeles, is a University of Southern California graduate with a wealth of expertise in the industry. Starting out as a Quality Assurance Analyst for Blizzard Entertainment, he is now an independent game developer who has provided Streets of Rogue for our gaming pleasure. Described as ‘Nuclear Throne meets Deus Ex, mixed with the anarchy of GTA’, it is evident that this is a true labour of love for Matt and one every gamer should be experiencing.
In development for over 5 years, Streets of Rogue is a rogue-lite, action-simulation title brought to us by Matt Dabrowski and the tinyBuild publishing team. Having been a part of the Early Access program on Steam and offering its own Discord channel whereby gamers have been able to voice their thoughts on the game throughout its development, it is safe to say we are now the recipients of a well-developed, cared for and intriguing title. Is it worthy of your attention though, or just another rogue-lite to add to the pile? Find out with our Rapid Review!
In short, this game is a must-play for both fans of the genre and those that aren’t. It is easy to generalise and say that any independently developed game that makes it to the Nintendo eShop is going to be a good one, but Streets of Rogue is the truest advocate for this statement. Clearly crafted as a love letter to games of old, Matt Dabrowski has pieced together many gameplay elements from years gone by and created a masterpiece for the modern era.
Setting the scene for the carnage that unfolds is a story of a rebellion. With the newly-appointed Mayor seeking to destroy all that was great about the city, you set about to restore the equilibrium as one of 20 playable characters. Each of the characters available has their own traits and starting items, and you can select the character that best suits your play style. For example, the Soldier starts will all you would commonly associate with a solider, including high firearm and melee stats. In stark contrast, the Thief is a dab hand with a crowbar and lock pick, which are just two of your starting items. The variety is fantastic, and means that each new run can be approached in many different ways: stealthily, all guns blazing, pacifist…
A top-down, 2-D affair reminiscent of top-down GTA titles of the late 90’s and early ’00s, as well as more recent pixelated games such as The Escapists, l Streets of Rogue has you completing rebellious missions against enemies scattered throughout the many procedurally-generated buildings and roaming the five locations available. There are multiple levels to each world, and you need to get to the end goal whilst meeting the objectives and collecting XP. The missions are fairly varied, although nothing too extraordinary, provide a firm basis for the fast-paced action. You move with the left stick, aim with the right, and use your equipped weapon by pressing ZR. Cycling through weapons on the fly is easy with the use of L and R, and using a health item is as simple as pressing B.
Before starting your mission, there are a number of accessible features available in the Home Base. Acting as a hub of sorts, you can purchase Traits, select Mutators and access Rewards. Each of these gameplay mechanics is evidence of the influences that have shaped this title, and they both serve a purpose and improve the gameplay experience.
The traits, which are purchased using chicken nuggets procured during each run – I’ll let you find out why are included in your next game whenever you level up. Each skill level offers the chance to apply one of these traits, and they are randomly generated when you earn enough XP. Ranging from improved attack damage to free items at vendors and melee weapon durability increasing, there is a wealth of options available. Noticeably, there are also traits which would hinder your success, allowing for an increase in difficulty for those who wish to do so.
Mutators are another fantastic inclusion, as they act almost like cheat codes. You can apply as many as you want, and they offer up a lot of fun and variety. I often gave myself three more continues per run, as well as infinite ammo and disasters every level, for good measure. With the use of the mutators, each run could be completely different and these were an excellent inclusion. Although the opportunity to fly through Streets of Rogue is there if you wish, the mutators can be used to both increase and decrease the difficulty.
For all that it does oh so well, there are a couple of small but nonetheless notable issues which can hinder the enjoyment of the title. For one, it is a challenging game, made more difficult by the perma-death nature of its rogue-lite origins. Whilst acknowledging that it comes with the territory, it proved to be particularly frustrating at times as you make your way through an incredibly successful run, only to be stopped in your tracks and needing to start again. This was further compounded during times where the framerate dipped when there was a lot going on, and I was unable to respond quickly enough to prevent my character from dying. I also found that the missions didn’t quite share the same variety as the locations and the characters, although this is combatted by the option to approach the run with different characters, traits and weapons.
Streets of Rogue is yet more evidence of the importance of indie titles, not just for the Nintendo Switch but for gaming in general. Without publishers such as TinyBuild, we wouldn’t have games like this one on our systems, and that would be a travesty. The level of detail, polish and feature-rich content included in Streets of Rogue is mightily impressive, and whilst the game will run its course in due time, there is enough customisation available to increase its longevity tenfold. Coupled with the inclusion of local and online co-op, what we have here is a game that set out to achieve a fun-filled, action-packed experience and did just that, and then some!
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Streets of Rogue on the Nintendo eShop at the following link, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch-download-software/Streets-of-Rogue-1424536.html#gameDetails
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.