The ancient war machines standing in my way are no match for me. I jump, dash, slash, and slice, and within a few seconds, they are in pieces. I blaze on from room to room until I miscalculate, and a blast to the face kills me. “No worries,” I think to myself as I buy some upgrades and step back into the dungeon once more.
Playing ScourgeBringer is like playing the Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry crossover you never knew you wanted. It doesn’t bring anything new to the roguelike table, but it is so elegant and addicting.
Born, Kill, Die
ScourgeBringer does not take long to reveal its core gameplay loop. You step inside a dungeon, slice your way to a mini-boss, open the door to the boss room, slay said boss, and move on to the next dungeon. Die, and you go back to the Chiming Tree, where you can purchase upgrades and go back inside for another attempt.
While you could theoretically beat the game without dying once, this is most likely not the case for most players. The rewards from every session don’t diminish, so you can keep on grinding to unlock all available upgrades before moving on.
When exploring the dungeons, you have two main goals in mind: defeating the mini-boss and then defeating the boss. In the Early Access version, there isn’t much more you can find in the dungeons. Aside from bosses, you can come across a merchant that sells healing items and weapons, and altars that grant you a bonus that lasts until you die.
The boss battles you face in ScourgeBringers are the toughest and most exciting parts. You need to learn their attack patterns and hit back when they’re at their most vulnerable, which is always fun. Furthermore, since the bosses usually attack with projectiles, the battles often turn into adrenaline-fueled bullet-hell.
Momentum at Its Core
Combat is a combination of Ninja Gaiden’s quick platforming, Dead Cells‘ great sense of weight, and Devil May Cry’s sick combos. It does so without complicated controls or systems, but by combining basic platforming with a few simple attacks.
To move around vertically, you can double jump and dash in mid-air. You can also cling to walls, jump off them, or run upwards while clinging, kind of like in Celeste. It feels so natural that once you get used to it, you stop thinking about your movements – you just do it.
By combining the agile movement with sword slashes, you become a devastating ball of destruction. ScourgeBringer keeps it simple – you can use regular attacks that deal quick damage, and heavy attacks that push enemies away and stun them. You can also deflect projectiles, which requires some practice to master.
When you charge enough energy, you can unleash a powerful fury attack that deals damage to all enemies on the screen.
You can use your dash to deal damage to enemies and pull them towards you. You are not invulnerable while dashing, and it is easy to get hit. It helps to keep the game challenging enough, but it slows down the momentum of combat. But if you keep your speed up, you can carry combos and gain multipliers that help you earn more of the in-game money – Blood. The combo system still has a ways to go, but it does remind me of Devil May Cry’s excellent combat.
And much like the protagonist of that series, Dante, our hero Kyhra carries a gun. Using the gun, you can deal extra damage from afar, which is useful in many situations. However, aiming is still a bit wonky.
Look and Feel Deadly
The gameplay is not the only part of ScourgeBringer that is reminiscent of Devil May Cry. When you fly around smashing enemies, ScourgeBringer’s metal soundtrack kicks in and puts you right “in the zone.”
All sound effects come together with the visual effects to help give weight to every hit and slash. The music slows down when you get hit, and the game lingers on every strike to make it feel as visceral as possible.
ScourgeBringer isn’t even fully out yet, and already it has a unique identity. It is far more than “Dead Cells meets Celeste” with a touch of Devil May Cry, but can still learn much from each of them individually.
With a combination of quick movement and simple yet hard-hitting combat, the game falls right into the easy-to-learn, hard-to-master territory. Skilled arcade fans will have a blast with it.
While waiting for the next update, I would also like to recommend subscribing to Flying Oak Games’ mailing list. The emails are candid and detailed, and also give a taste of what indie development involves.
ScourgeBringer will come out of Early Access and on to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch later this year.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.