Just One More Run…
If I have a video game weakness it is Roguelike games. There is something about the whole “one more run” replayability that gets me every time, especially when it involves an upgrade skill tree where you can spend whatever currency you collect between runs. I also have a weakness for pixel art. Zoo Corporation and Eastasiasoft has catered to my weakness with an experience called Rogue Explorer.
If there is a story to be had with Rogue Explorer it seems to exist only in the game’s description, and that is perfectly fine for what this game is. Upon loading up the game you will find yourself in a hub town. There are several options here including character customisation, crafting/upgrading of gear and weapons, unlocking permanent enhancements with an upgrade tree, and a stage select. At the beginning, all you can do is customise your character’s head with colour and style and start playing. No worries, you will be back soon enough and exploring all your options. You will also find yourself humming along the upbeat and catchy music playing in the background more than once, because it is indeed quite snazzy.
The stages are divided into several platforming levels, and start out easy enough with a tutorial to help you get used to the control scheme. To be honest, this took a minute to get used to. The control is a little clunky and isn’t as finessed as some well-known titles, and the roll mechanic is split between the left trigger to roll left and the right trigger to roll right. It was also something to get used to seeing your weapon just floating in front of you. But it did not take long to get used to those and really start to enjoy the movement of the game. And your character wears a scarf that dangles behind them, which I am all about.
Side-scrolling with leaps, rolls and wall jumps!
Each stage has a handful of enemies that get noticeably more difficult as you get further into the game. As is typical with this genre, there are enemies that will attack with a melee weapon and some that have a projectile attack. Getting hit by an enemy can be unforgiving, as some enemies can take large chunks off of your health bar. You can attack enemies with your weapon and land on top of them to do damage. There are a few other attacks that will become available to use either choosing them mid-level for a stage long benefit or by permanently unlocking or crafting them in the hub stage. At the end of each stage is a boss that you have to battle. Defeating a boss will bring you back to the hub where you can craft, upgrade, and head out into the next stage.
My only real complaint with the game is that there is no hand-holding, if that is even a complaint. You are thrown in with no story and no background and just have to learn what everything in the game means and does. It makes everything seem a little more cumbersome until you figure it all out. You’ll be fine after that and it becomes much more fluent and fun. My other gripe is that there is a weird day and night cycle that seems to do nothing more than be there just to be there for aesthetic purposes. I found it distracting and would have preferred it to change with each level of the stage, each stage, or just not at all. Again, this is completely minor and doesn’t affect my overall opinion of the game.
Quirks aside, Rogue Explorer is a good time, if you enjoy the roguelike genre. It packs in a pretty solid experience for its teetering impulse buy level price tag ($7.99/£6.99). Is it one of those games that everyone will be talking about four years from now? Probably not. But would I be surprised to see it still pop up in my rotation four years now? Also probably not, because when it comes down to it, I’ll gladly go for just one more run.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 18/08/2021
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Platformer, Adventure
Developer: Eastasiasoft, Zoo Corporation
Download: US eShop / UK eShop