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Streets of Rogue

Streets of Rogue comes to us from developer Matt Dabrowski, via publisher tinyBuild. A seemingly simple, overhead 16-bit beat-em-up, I won’t lie, my first impression was ‘Oh god not another pixelart game’. That was, until I got into playing, then the chaos reigned. Streets of Rogue is *fun*. Definitely fun, it’s got a tongue in cheek sense of humour, a wicked sense of over the top chaos about it and you’re going to have a blast. So, what about the game itself?

Gameplay

Gameplay is to put it simply… chaos. Pure chaos. But oh so fun. Run around a map, seemingly randomly generated and complete randomly assigned missions picked up from locals around the place. Do you find the key and open the jail door? Do you enhance your strength and smash the annoying cop following you for some reason through the side of the jail to rescue the gorilla (yes… the gorilla). Or do you hack the jail door inside that fortress of secret agents and hope your little rescue subject makes it out alive herself without getting gunned down in the process? There’s a lot of variation to be had in gameplay styles. Or… do you do what I do and just blow the living hell out of everyone and everything on the map leaving nary a thing standing by the time you’re finished?

The controls themselves are like butter, covered in oil, smoothed down with a polishing lathe, they’re excellent. Utilising basic sprite tiles with pixel characters, you’re looking at a high framerate on most setups, leading to a fast paced, hectic game experience. Move with WASD, aim with the mouse and a quick menu management system/stat system can be engaged with Q or Tab. From there, it’s a hop skip and a jump to Stat-town where you can juggle all your inventory, judge what’s best to wear and not wear, what’s best to use when fighting, the game’s simply great in this respect. Streets of Rogue organises most of your inventory for you and helps you in decent ways, such as automatically arming the best armour, but leaving you to arm your own weaponry and food for example.

On the downside, the game can feel repetitive as each level, the missions don’t vary a great deal, usually relying on ‘escort this person’, ‘rescue the gorilla’, ‘break into this safe’ and a few others. Some of the guns feel too similar too with not much separating them. As well as this, on occasion, a ‘blow the crap out of everything’ approach usually seals the deal for completing *every single level*.

Returning to home base though lets you upgrade your character with extra skills and abilities though, which brings a nice little variance to the game, with mutators (different aspects to levels: does everyone explode into gore when killed, for example). The gameplay is fun, it has its negatives, but for what it is, you’ll find fast paced, fun value here in Streets of Rogue worthy of a purchase.

Multiplayer just gets better, up to four people running around is the purest experience of true chaos you’re going to get. It gets HECTIC. In my experience the connections were stable even when chaos jacked right up to explosions-a-plenty. This is definitely a game that gets better with a social experience.

Visuals

Visuals are, as seems to be the trend with a lot of indie games the last few years, a top down 16 bit pixel art feast for the eyes. Don’t get me wrong though, they’re well done and the colour palette is on point. Streets of Rogue revels in its use of colours and the sprites really stand out from each other, despite being of a basic visual makeup. The maps are honestly nothing to really boast about, the best I can say is the art it ‘clean’, everything stands out and everything is recognisable, which in a limited 16-bit design, is quite a feat as at times, the designs of the tiles gets a bit chunky. What I did like though, was the way bad guys explode, gibbing everywhere with chunky guts, or the way nearly all walls can be ruined, leaving bits of debris, or the way everything has its own unique look. I have no doubt Matt Dabrowski put some effort into creating this game, it’s well balanced, and I believe the game deserves praise, but I will say that the thing that I really loved, visually, is the light sourcing that gives each level a unique ‘look’ and affects each area if you destroy said lighting sources.

Audio

The Audio was for lack of a better term, neat. I liked the music, it was catchy after all. Normally if the music in a game is annoying or even mundane, I find myself turning it off and putting on some mp3’s, in this case, I didn’t feel that need. Streets of Rogue’s music held my attention and pumped along at a neat, cute pace suiting the games aesthetics. The in game sound complimented the games graphics, nothing felt ‘above’ the games 16 bit roots, gunshots felt adequately represented, swords had a cute little ‘swipe’ sound and the shatter of windows after punching them was satisfying. All in all, the sound was effective for what it is.

Value

I believe at $14.99 Streets of Rogue has found its upper limits for its pricing point. I don’t think I’d recommend paying any more? But you won’t regret spending it. If you see it cheaper on sale, you’d be amiss to not pick it up it’s that fun. If you can convince a few friends to play? Even better.

Conclusion

Streets of Rogue is a lot of fun, it has its flaws, some rather large ones at times, but the fun factor outweighs it. With smooth controls, great multiplayer, a true sense of chaos and a simple mission based format, Streets of Rogue is a game that you just won’t regret and you’ll even be glad you purchased, once you get kicking with multiplayer. Enjoy! I know I did.

Pro’s:

  • Excellent controls.
  • Smooth framerate even on low end pc’s.
  • Great lighting.
  • Nice looking tilesets.

Cons:

  • Repetitive gameplay.
  • Maps are a bit bland at times.

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