German developers Black Forest Games first announced Rogue Stormers at a games developer conference in 2010 under project name Ravensdale. Things didn’t start so well due to a failed Kickstarter campaign in 2013, it seems though they have really got their act together and due to a further successful attempt at Kickstarter in 2014 the game saw it’s release on Steam. Now though it’s the turn of the consoles.
Rogue Stormers is a “Roguelike” game with elements of a twin stick run and gun mashup. From launching the game you’re greeted with the character selection screen, the artwork for the characters is very impressive, the downside though is your choice is limited to 1 character, yep that’s right, the rest of the characters are unlockable. Your character Brecht ( and I assume the rest also) have a main weapon, a special attack and also perks that vary from one character to the next. Brecht main perks are +10 Max HP and a percentage extra in loot hording.
The levels to the game appear to be randomly generated, this doesn’t help much when you are trying to familiarise yourself with the layouts and your options for getting to the end. The first stage is called King’s Gate, and it is set in an old stony village type of place with cellars to explore. Scattered around the stages are Jackpot machines. These can be used to obtain collectables and upgrades that help with your mission. The drops are delivered in the way of a rocket that lands at your feet and spawns your upgrade ready for you to pick up. Navigation around the level is helped by floating platforms, however should you wish to drop to the platform below, the button configuration is not as intuitive as it could be, leading to a couple of frustrating moments. On the whole, the control system could have been done different to allow a more fluid, flowing game-play. I often found myself getting confused at the layout and at times it felt unnatural.
Placed around the levels are chests. These mostly offer bonuses, however on the odd occasion they will be booby-trapped and damage you. If your health is low this can lead to death. I’ll come to dying a little later. The power ups aren’t the most powerful thing ever but they do offer a great advantage to your enemies. The bad guys spawn at various locations and on King’s Gate they are little goblins and big mechanical Frankenstein type behemoths. The enemies are hard. That, coupled with them running at you while you fire rapidly to get their health down leads to you jump all over the place to dodge them. If the control system was a little easier this wouldn’t be so bad, however death is inevitable.
Let’s talk Death.This was by far the most irritating point of this game. When you die that’s it. You have to start again. This had me shouting obscenities at the screen on more than one occasion. Situated around the levels are fixed guns, traps, spinning blades, fire traps and all sorts of crazy hazards. Once a mob of enemies spawn and run at you the chance of you being hit by a hazard goes up, knocking your precious limited health down even further. There is an unfortunate mix of hard enemies, hazards, weak weapons, limited health, dodgy controls and not enough health points initially that cause this game to fall down, and fall down hard. As I said, once you die you have to start again, but the level will be laid out differently and the pickups won’t be in the same place. One of my most frustrating moments came when I finally reached the end of level boss. These quite rightly have their own patterns and mechanics meaning you will die while you figure it all out, however I when I died I spawned back at the start with no pickups or anything. Unless you are glutton for punishment then this system will become tiring very very quickly.
Rogue Stormers could have been so much more, with the inclusion of a lives system, easier enemies and more spectacular weapons then the game may have played out differently. There are lots of occasions where back tracking is necessary This gives the illusion that you’re never actually getting anywhere, and when you do get to the end if you die then you have to do it all over again. Rogue Stormers offers online co-op, this may make things a little easier but sometimes people just want to shoot stuff by themselves. This game doesn’t lure you back for another attempt meaning it may just sit in your library gathering virtual dust.
Rogue Stormers looks amazing visually, it’s colourful and the backdrops are really nice. I may be being a little harsh but it’s been a while since I have played a game that actually made me swear, not because of frights or near misses, but out of pure frustration. I hope that Black Forest Games expand on this idea and introduce a more gamer friendly game that has all the elements people are shouting out for.