Title: Rogue Stormers
Available On: PC, Console (planned)
Developer: Black Forest Games
Official Site: roguestormers.com
Release Date: 21 April 2016
Where to Buy: Steam
Games these days tend to work with the idea that bigger is better. Open worlds, hundreds of quests, dozens of hours of a story just to find out there’s a dozen more; who wants to always deal with that kind of emotional investment? Sometimes, the best game is a simple one, the title that lets you jump right in and start blasting bad guys without a need for a 20-minute introductory cut-scene. Sometimes, you don’t really care to spend hours upgrading your character’s equipment or stats. Sometimes, all you want is blood, fire, gore, and mayhem.
And that is exactly what Rogue Stormers aims to deliver.
Welcome to Ravensdale. A diesel-punk, fantasy city that has been taken over by the High Priest Victor von Garg where the inhabitants are transformed into horrors by Goo – a mysterious product that is used in everything from teleporters to skin lotion. Citizens are now twisted into the horrific forms of orcs and goblins, and it appears that the city has been lost to this green tide forever. That is unless the last five remaining heroes have anything to do with it. These heroes, each having been hurt or even twisted themselves by the Goo, try to fight their way to the heart of the corruption, to disperse the dark cloud over Ravensdale once and for all.
That is if they don’t die along the way.
Difficult Taken Seriously
That’s the setting for this foray into violent mayhem. Nice and simple, no princesses to rescue, no morals to uphold, just you and your crew of up to three other players deploying into the city and destroying everything in your way. It’s a solid foundation upon which to build a rogue-like twin-stick shooter – you die, you go back to the beginning, an entirely new randomly-generated world waiting for you to try again.
And you will die, a lot. Rogue Stormers takes the rogue-like part of its description very seriously. It is devilishly difficult, and there are no checkpoints. If you and your co-op partners die, you will be sent straight back to the start to try again, no matter how far along the campaign trail you have managed to get. This can be extremely frustrating in solo mode as you have no opportunity to be revived by a comrade, and even in co-op, your partner(s) will need to gather up a fair few health packs in order to get you back on your feet. Mistakes are punished harshly, and if you want to complete the story, you will need to ‘git gud’ very, very quickly.
However, there is one place where Rogue Stormers does try to give you some relief; permanent progression. As you play with each of the five characters, they gain experience, giving you the chance at the end of each level to upgrade them in some small way. A little bit of extra damage faster reloads little bonuses that give you a bit more of an edge the next time you raid the city. This way, the game gives you a reason to keep playing and a chance that you will do better each time you make the attempt to take back the city. Combined with the randomized maps, bosses, traps, as well as a diverse range of enemies and weapon unlocks; Rogue Stormers give you plenty of reason to keep visiting the broken city of Ravensdale.
One thing to note, however, is that this game is best played with a controller, and with friends. However, at this point in time, there is not much of a community in Rogue Stormers, so you would be hard pressed to find an online buddy to scrap with. There is, thankfully, the welcome addition of a couch co-op option – a feature which is so often missed out of modern games.
A Plot – If You Want It
The thing about Rogue Stormers is that while it certainly has an interesting story (with some great tongue-in-cheek humor), it doesn’t throw it into your face at every opportunity. You don’t need to know anything about Ravensdale, what happened to it, or the characters that you are playing and the enemies you are fighting against. This is raw, unbridled, co-operative fun. There is a story, certainly, and if you care to, you can find everything you wish to know through the storyline unlocks. But if you don’t care about that, it doesn’t matter – there is just another ugly goblin or orc to splatter against a wall.
There is a similar situation with the character backgrounds. Each is unique and interesting, having their own tale to tell, but if you don’t want to hear their sob story, all you need to know is how they play differently. Bullets, fire, goop – however, you want to destroy the enemy, there’s a format for you to do it. You can also discover more about the various types of enemies through unlocked newspaper clippings, as well as the run-up to the fall of the city itself. For a game that doesn’t emphasize the plot in a direct way, the writing for it is surprisingly good. While you might just want to explode some baddies, I would recommend having a glance at the lore as well, if only to give some context to the destruction.
Rogue Stormers – Splatterhouse
If there was a Jackson Pollock of explosions and blood, Rogue Stormers would be it. While the art style could be described as cartoonish, there is nothing kid-friendly about the amount of blood that is onscreen at essentially all times. The 3D models add a level of modernity to the classic side-scrolling action, as do the ragdoll physics. The color scheme, in particular, is intended to play both a gameplay and a graphical role. Different colors of attacks indicate the friendly or hostile fire, but you will often find that any and all attacks end up getting lost in the fog of combat.
That is a bit of a recurring theme with Rogue Stormers combat graphics. You will often find yourself dying without even realizing because one of the dozens of enemy shots disappeared from view in the maelstrom and hit you. This doubles down when playing with even a single another player, and is practically a hellstorm when you are playing four-person co-op. There are also a few camera glitches, where it will suddenly pan across the screen and enemies will glitch into walls, making it impossible to hit them. Small issues, but they certainly detract from the experience somewhat. You can get used to the busy-ness on the screen (some bosses are practically a bullet hell), but it does take some time and could have been handled a little better than just expecting players to get used to it.
Overall, Rogue Stormers is a blast to play, but only if you have somebody to play it with. There are a few quality of life improvements I would have liked to see, such as a little more clarity on screen during combat and fewer graphical bugs. I feel like its a solid game, but it lacks a certain amount of polish. Despite that, Rogue Stormers remains fun, if a little frustrating, with a heavy difficulty curve and great replayability. If you like jumping straight into the action and aren’t afraid of a few irritating deaths, then Rogue Stormers is definitely a game you should have on your radar.
- A blast with friends
- Couch co-op!
- High replayability
- A few frustrating bugs
- Can have a high difficulty curve
- Very small community
- Could use a little polish