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Wishing this to be Rover.
Rush Rover is 2D top-down shooter by indie studio Ratalaika. The game requires you to shoot through room-upon-room of randomly generated enemies and you have to survive against the brutal robot hordes. It has a wonderful arcade aesthetic and music accompaniment. The style makes you feel like you’re playing an arcade game from the ’80s.
To be honest, though the style is nice it doesn’t offer much beyond this. It’s pretty, but with very little going on below the surface, much like a Kardashian. Beyond nostalgia, I found very little substance. I know for a fact that some people will really enjoy this game, however am not one of those lucky few.
Gameplay-wise, it follows the typical roguelike game. You kill all the enemies in one area before moving to the next, in the hope of getting better equipment to help destroy the enemies. It’s a fair decision to make this, but there are some major issues with how they decided to go about that. Firstly, they haven’t added anything to the genre, it feels like it isn’t doing anything differently from what other games in this field have been doing. There seems like nothing fresh here.
Secondly, the pacing and progression in these games are really important, and Rush Rover is way off-the-mark here. It really throws you into the deep end and expects you to swim blindly upstream fast. I don’t mind that, but it really makes it hard to enjoy. You die so frequently that it’s incredibly hard to get better at the game.
There is a pattern with a lot of modern games in the last decade which have taken on the Dark Souls mentality. Where you make a game incredibly difficult in order to challenge your players. That is fine, but you do need to, at the very least, make the game accessible and interesting. You run the risk of alienating your players if it’s too hard. I didn’t really feel engaged to continue this game any further.
There was a severe lack of engagement in Rush Rover. It offers nothing to emotionally connect the player to the game. There is no reason for me to grind to get better at this game. It’s nice when you succeed, but the gameplay denies you a lot of access to improve, until you get really good in the game. But nothing ever makes you want to get to that point. There is an addicting element to it, meaning that you do want to play it again. The rounds are short so you can pick it up and play on repeat. Again, It does feel like an authentic arcade game from the ’80s in the fact that I imagine that you would lose a lot of quarters in this machine.
The least enjoyable part of Rush Rover is knowing progress is very little to do with skill and more to do with luck. Your starting weapon is as useful as a water pistol defending against a nuclear bomb. If you are lucky and find new weapons they tend to be incredibly overpowered and cut through enemies like butter. This jump in damage and effectiveness changes to the point of ridiculousness. The pacing is weird and you just pray to get one early on.
I don’t really even understand the currency and upgrade system in the game. It’s not overtly clear or does it ever clarify anything. They assume you’ll pick it up, which no doubt you will. But why leave it so late?
There wasn’t exactly any plot to grasp onto. Like not even a morsel. I didn’t even realise the character I was playing was called Rover until a couple hours in. Imagine doing any other artform without introducing anything about the game. Here is a list of questions on stuff I still have ZERO idea about the game.
Who is Rover?
Why are we shooting robots?
What is the ultimate goal?
Why do I have to keep on going back?
Will this game get more interesting?
I am willing to change my mind about this game, if some texture or definition was placed in the game. You don’t need a story, but it may give the game a lot of more purpose.
Weirdly enough, this game reminded me of Night In The Woods. Not for the interesting characters, any modicum of depth or the element of joy that the game brings – no it’s the fact you can play a mini-game in the game called Demon Tower. Demon Tower is actually pretty similar to Rush Rover. But even Demon Tower, which is only meant to be a bonus game inside a full-fledged real game, has more depth and understanding than what Rush Rover. If Rush Rover was a bonus arcade game in an established video game, I think was neat.
Sadly, it is not.
But wait. “There is more to the game than that” I hear you say! Okay, I’m all ears.
“There is also Dodge mode! Where you get to dodge the incoming objects”.
That is literally all there is too it. It’s not interesting. It’s actually similar to the battle sequences in Undertale, where you have to jump out of the way of objects. But with Undertale there is finesse, beauty and reason. With Rush Rover, I fail to see the point of anything.
I appreciate this is an indie game and it’s a massive achievement to even create a game like this. It just doesn’t appeal to me in any way. This game isn’t without merit and it will certainly appeal to certain gamers. For me, however, it fundamentally lacks engagement and progression is so stilted that it is hard to keep playing.
TBG Score: 3/10
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 10/04/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Action, Arcade
Developer: Ratalaika Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Download link: eShop