Let me take you on a trip in the Way-Back Machine(tm): we’re going back to the year 1980, also known as “The Year of Rogue”. On that year, a couple of guys released the game that would change the course of the gaming industry (or at least it would have, had the “industry” existed back then) and spawn an entire genre in due time. As you might have guessed, I’m talking about “Rogue”.

“Rogue” was all about creating a procedurally-generated multi-level dungeon for the player to explore, full of monsters to kill (or be killed by) and loot to… well… loot. There was no regenerating health, no cover and no saving your progress in case you died. In a nutshell, Rogue was Dungeons & Dragons first ported to a computer. It was (and still is) somewhat of a rite of passage to old-school RPG gamers and great many people look at it fondly. In fact, if you strip down the pretty graphics and forgiving difficulty, almost all hack-and-slash dungeon crawler games are nothing more than Rogue, prettied up and modernized. Everything from NetHack to Diablo owes its very existence to Rogue, granddaddy of the dungeon crawler genre.

Now that the history lesson is over, we can begin the review of Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike in earnest.

Rogue Shooter is an amalgamation of two elements: Rogue, obviously, being one of them, bringing the procedurally-generated dungeons (or space-station floors as the case may be) and overall concept to the game. The other element is the FPS element. How well do the two combine? Surprisingly well. The core gameplay hasn’t changed since 1980: The game will drop you in the middle of a randomly-generated level filled with monsters. You must kill at least 50% of them in order for the exit to unlock and allow passage to the next level up, although you can stick around and clear all of them for extra XP (and, of course, extra loot).

On the way, you will gather all sorts of weapons, various kinds of armor and many types of crafting materials.¬†The weapon types are numerous but are split between ammo types, making it easy to manage. Armor is equally simple with a head/torso/waist/boot types for ease of use, with each piece rated for both durability and deflection. You will also gather “Intel” points used to unlock bonuses in the meta-game (Rogue Shooter’s only concession to the modern roguelikes) which carry over between playthroughs, slowly but steadily upgrading your character. Journal entries, revealing bits and pieces of a story, are also automatically unlocked for you at various waypoints of Intel gained – they mostly provide some goofy backdrop to the game and a few self-referencing jokes.

As the game’s “Easycore” mode still expects you to clear 50 floors before calling it a win, there are obviously some ways to help yourself survive. Apart from the aforementioned “Intel” unlocks, between every 3rd and 4th level you’ll find yourself in a “Safe Room” – a small room with no enemies, containing a vending machine and a repair workbench. In it, you will stop to resupply and repair your gear before moving along with the wholesale alien shooting (or electrocuting, exploding, stabbing, kicking… The list really does go on and on). There are other surprises in store on the different floors, from hidden rooms to dark hallways severely limiting your field of vision, but I won’t spoil them all. Suffice to say that since the game generates levels randomly, you’ll need quite a few playthroughs to really encounter everything.

Rogue Shooter is another game backed by Steam’s “Greenlight” initiative – a demo is available and I strongly recommend you try it first and make sure Rogue Shooter will run smoothly on your system (a minority of players reported weird memory leaks and FPS issues even though the game’s graphics are nowhere near taxing and the CPU requirements are 1.6GHz) before committing to it.

Overall, I can wholeheartedly recommend Rogue Shooter to anyone looking for something different and challenging. There aren’t many games like it, plus you’ll be supporting an Indie developer. If you need more incentive, Rogue Shooter is also just 5$ on Steam during launch week (Until May 1st). So, what are you waiting for? Go save the procedurally-generated¬†Helios!


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