Developer: Flying Oak Games, E-Studio
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Genre: Action-Adventure Roguelike
Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Version Tested: PC
Official Site: scourgebringer.com
Release Date: October 21, 2020
When I first got the chance to review ScourgeBringer’s early access phase, I’ll admit I was a little skeptical. I was still really new to the roguelike genre, only having touched Enter the Gungeon for 20 hours. When I’d finally beaten it though, I knew I’d found something special. There was just so much to love on offer, to the point where I never wanted to stop. It had its issues, but I found a game I’d recommend to any roguelike fan due to its polish and fun factor. Needless to say, playing through the full game was a must. Does ScourgeBringer expand upon its beautiful premise though? I have but two words for you: Hell yes.
The Ascent Into ScourgeBringer’s Chaos
For those unaware of this hidden gem, ScourgeBringer follows the story of Kyhra, a young warrior of her tribe. The world she once knew has been ravaged by monsters, coming from a monolith that arrived on Earth some time ago. With humanity nearing extinction and fighting to stay alive, only one person could venture in and try to stop it. That person is you. As Kyhra, you move through the monolith, otherwise known as the ScourgeBringer, to save your people and end the evil it has brought up these lands.
ScourgeBringer follows a very basic gameplay loop. Similar to Enter the Gungeon, you move from room to room, taking on foes and collecting loot. Once you reach the final boss of that stage, you defeat him and move on to the next to repeat the process. It’s a basic loop, but one that’s filled with nothing but exhilarating action. Dodging, slashing, and shooting become almost second nature to you. It’s a difficult process at the beginning but as soon as you get the hang of it, it becomes beautiful to watch Kyhra create a stunning, bloody performance across the room.
There’s even more content this time around as well. The ScourgeBringer developers have taken the three worlds and added a few more, along with fitting final bosses depending on the ending you choose. This has doubled the number of hours I put in and could easily increase with the other endings. Even the enemies feel more varied, with new versions of existing opponents and fresh ones as well. More things to consider in the heat of battle adds to not only the tension but also the satisfaction. ScourgeBringer never feels like it lacks in the latter, needless to say.
ScourgeBringer’s Satisfying Slaughter
These battles have evolved tremendously over the past eight months, introducing various new guns and attacks to spice things up for ScourgeBringer. As an example, one new upgrade you can carry across runs lets you do a lengthy dash after dashing through an opponent. Theoretically, you can slash all over the screen from enemy to enemy as you slaughter them with precision. That’s just one example of many different combinations you can pull off. It was already great in the regular game but is only done immense justice with some of the recent updates.
The same goes for various boosts and Blessings (ScourgeBringer’s form of major passives). Everything from sword damage to ability recharge rate can be improved, making combat more fluid than before. As much as these are great though, I have to admit some of the Blessings are a bit too specific or don’t have much use. For example, one Blessing gives you 0.5s of invulnerability from damage after deflecting bullets. You know, when you just knocked the threatening attack away from you. Another blessing gives enemies substantially less health, allowing them to be dispatched more quickly. 25% might not sound like much, but I found this Blessing to determine the length of my run most of the time. Thankfully this can likely be fixed post-launch, but I’m surprised not many people noticed it prior.
Refined to a T
Thankfully, ScourgeBringer’s atmosphere still stands as one of its strongest elements. The first three sections were always done well, with some beautiful pixel art and some great sound design and music to boot. With the final few sections though, the atmosphere is topped by a significant margin. For example, the fourth section has an incredibly grotesque look to it with the walls seeming alive. As such, plenty of squishy and disgusting sounds play as you move around and slaughter foes. All this happens while music accentuates this atmosphere to make you feel disgusted as you move through. Composer Joonas Turner has once again designed the sounds of ScourgeBringer to great effect and deserves immense praise.
Finally, I’d like to touch once again on the options and accessibility of ScourgeBringer. When the game was released in Early Access, I felt as though the menus were solid, with some decent strides in making the game accessible to more players. This time around, they’ve turned that accessibility up to 11. Everything from HD text, enemy bullet speed, and even invulnerability are all available to use. While many likely won’t use this, the latter feature is great for those who want to enjoy the game without dying to the environment a 72nd time. Maybe I’m the only one with that problem though.
Verdict: ScourgeBringer has gone about taking a great game with great concepts and improving it immensely. There’s a substantial amount of content, being more than worth the initial price tag. The team also tried some new things, in the form of both content and features. There are some minor issues with balancing, but these are overshadowed by the beautiful product on offer. If you’d like a new roguelike, something fast-paced, or just a refreshing experience, you’d be a fool to not play ScourgeBringer.