Streets of Rogue is so incredibly cool. A top down, pixel art joy of a title, one part rogue-like, one part immersive sim, drenched with charm, brilliant game play, great writing and a smorgasbord of ways to play as you travel through procedural generated levels with a host of missions to tackle and specific tasks to complete depending on your character of choice. And playing the way you want to play is definitely the main attraction in Streets of Rogue, from one-man developer Matt Dabrowski.
You can play as a host of different characters, from a run and gun soldier, to a stealthy assassin, a hacker, bartender, doctor, shopkeeper, shape shifter or even a gorilla, and each character makes you play in a very different way. Some times and with some characters you will have the option to talk your way through levels, not killing any NPCs, and finding creative ways to complete objectives, and some characters are designed for pure mayhem and destruction. Your exploration through these small but densely packed levels will lead you to find cool ways to approach your missions, and creative ways to succeed through conversation and a host of tools and gadgets depending on your class.
Streets of Rogue’s creativity in gameplay design doesn’t just stop at the playable character; each person you come across in the levels is also one of the playable character archetypes, and will be at the mercy of the same gameplay mechanics that you are as the player. Dabrowski has done a stellar job in creating this very smartly designed world with many underlying rules, so many of which are designed to be broken by the player to uncover the limits of the game. You can even jump into levels with up to four players, either in couch or online co-op, and this can create some hugely hilarious role-playing opportunities, where the players are almost limitless in the way they can approach the game.
I’ve put quite a few hours into Streets of Rogue so far and I am still yet to complete the game’s four areas, each with 3 levels, but this hasn’t stopped my enjoyment in any way. Each time you die and return to the beginning, you’ve learned something new, you’ve seen the limits of your chosen character, or you’ve unlocked a new character, earned some chicken nuggets – which are the ongoing currency that carries over when you die – and have the ability to make your next run more intriguing than the last.
As you progress further, and the more chicken nuggets you amass along the way, the more options become available to change the ongoing game play, through unlocking traits that will be available to choose from when leveling up and mutations that will affect game play significantly. The procedural generated level design means each time you jump back into the game there are slight differences, but the overarching rules that govern the world never change.
Driven by an awesome, catchy and funky soundtrack, your runs through the worlds of Streets of Rogue are usually fast-paced, and occasionally frantic, but just supremely designed, and there is so much to learn about the way this game plays and the rules set in the background by the developer in each run you attempt. I cannot recommend this game enough if you are a fan of either the rogue-like or immersive sim genre, and the splendid fun that permeates the game keeps you coming back for more each and every time.
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