Tag Archives: rogue like

Prey: Mooncrash review

Prey: Mooncrash is a very clever and highly enjoyable melding of first-person shooting and exploration with Rogue-like death and replay. It manages to create an entirely fresh experience in the Prey universe. Moreover, it’s fantastically compelling.

You are tasked with entering a simulation and reliving the desperate escape of five individuals that are trapped on the lunar base with Typhon enemies. Much like the core game, the Typhon come in a variety of forms, including the Mimics which morph into different objects to deceive and scare the hell out of you, and bi-pedal forms known as Phantoms. Some additional, new forms are also present in Mooncrash, including a tentacle spewing egg and a terrifically named ‘moon shark’. Dealing with these enemies, either through combat with whatever weaponry you manage to find – melee and projectile – or through environmental hazard manipulation, sneaking, or your very own Typhon abilities and skills provided by implants, is the order of the day.

Indeed, there’s a wealth of options as to how you choose to engage, or avoid, conflict, and the same can be said for progressing through the moon base. Multiple paths are available with different obstacles to traverse, whether these are locked doors requiring pass cards, hacking skills, passwords gained by reading notes and emails or the computer terminals, let alone the environmental hazards and enemies. However, a big change with Mooncrash over the core game are the five characters you control.

To begin with you’re limited to a single character, but as you play his unique escape attempt you gradually unlock the additional characters. This can occur when you discover their corpse for the first time, or by achieving the specific story objective for a character. These objectives are present for each character and revolves around one of the five available escape methods, such as using the escape pod, flying out on a shuttle, etc. Meanwhile, additional objectives are also available for each character, should you feel the need to put yourself in great danger and uncover more of the plot.

With the Rogue-like addition of skills carrying over even after death, and the environment maintaining a persistent state for each cycle, after a dozen or so attempts you’ll have the whole cast ready to go, allowing you to use the abilities of different characters to help pave the way for the others. The ultimate goal is the have a perfect run; where all five characters manage to escape during a single, unbroken cycle. However, achieving this is anything but simple.

Determining which characters can do what is largely a case of trial and error and is discovered simply by using them. However, understanding the base layout and what activates what, takes some exploration, and the more you explore the more dangerous it becomes. This isn’t only because of the random spawning of enemies for each cycle but also because of an imposed time limit. The simulation technology you’re using is unstable, and the longer you remain in it, the more unstable it becomes. This instability is measured in levels, and as each level is reached, new enemies spawn and become more aggressive. It’s a clever mechanic that adds urgency and threat with an effective randomness; it’s Rogue-like at its best.

And indeed, it’s these Rogue-like elements that make this such an interesting experience. Items and enemies surprise you with different spawn locations each cycle, the environment also changes throwing unforeseeable obstacles at you, all the while your cast of characters are gradually getting stronger, your knowledge of the base is increasing, and those five escape plans and their order begin to reveal themselves. Pair this with Prey’s environmental storytelling, intense combat and terrifying enemies, and you’ve got a tremendously unique and engaging package.

Prey’s core mechanics of exploration, limited ammo and health, and horror would make figuring out how to achieve each characters’ escape frustrating due to the amount of times it causes your demise, but due to the Rogue-like qualities of skill retention and a semi-persistent environment, it makes this a unique and entertaining experience that’s hard to put down.

Thanks to Bethesda for supporting TiX

Vertical Drop Heroes HD review

It’s been a long time since I sat in front of a PC, loaded up a web browser and played a Flash game. Things have moved on a lot since those days and unfortunately some of these gems aren’t getting the traffic they used to. Vertical Drop Heroes HD, however, has ascended from Flash game to console game, and is impressively the brain child of just one man.

Like most games of this type, repetition is key to progression, so the more you play the more you’re likely to succeed in the end. However, with death being an inevitability, and no chance of starting where you left off, it makes for quite a tiring experience. At the start of each game you get to choose from three randomly generated heroes with varying amounts of damage and health. Each character has a weapon that you can choose to auto attack the enemies, however, this, in my opinion, should be turned off due to your hero often attacking when it’s too late.

You jump into a randomly generated world and make you way down, yes down, not sideways or up, fighting as you go against randomly generated enemies. When, and if, you make it to the bottom there is a huge boss that is, you guessed it, randomly generated. You can skip the boss though, if you’re quick enough, because if you don’t have the damage or the health then death spells the end of your chosen hero.

Scattered around each level are gold coins that can be used to buy temporary power-ups or more permanent upgrades from merchants before or during each stage. Upgrades will add more attack power or health to your hero. Experience boosts are also an option and come in handy as you descend, giving you an upper hand on the boss. Also, placed around each stage are keys. The keys are used to unlock chests, alternative paths and, more importantly, the exit if you don’t want to face the boss. This does come in handy if things haven’t gone to plan on your way down.

To add a little extra challenge to each level, there is a quest giver placed towards the beginning of each stage. They give you optional quests to collect items as you go down, such as collecting specific orbs or animals. When you get to the bottom you can use a magic portal which, for a cost, teleports you back to the start of the stage to have another go if you missed something on your first run.

The bonus to Vertical Drop Heroes is the short sharp experience it offers. The levels are brief and can be completed quickly if you want, or you can take it slow and methodical, tactically considering you descent and collecting those optional quest gubbins. If you die, pick another hero and rinse and repeat. Due to it’s lack of depth it does get a repetitive but it’s well suited to limited play session where you only have a little time to spare.

Visually Vertical Drop Heroes is basic, but with a game like this you quickly stop looking at the visuals because you’re so fixated on dodging or collecting. A small game like this should definitely be on your ready to play list for those quick gaming sessions when you have nothing else to do, however, I must admit I can think of better things to blow £6 on; if dropped to half price then I’d say it’s definitely worth a shot.

Overall Vertical Drop Heroes is cheap and cheerful, fair play to Nerdook for transforming a flash game into something a little more substantial. Whilst the game is worth a go it’s not something that will grab your attention for hours. The first ten minutes will give you everything you need to get to grips with it, meaning there’s no real incentive to carrying on playing.

Thanks to Xbox and Nerdook for supporting TiX

Rogue Stormers review

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.

Rogue Stormers

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.

Rogue Stormers

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.

Rogue Stormers

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

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

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.

Thank you to Xbox and Black Forest Games for supporting TiX