Rogue Stormers is a side-scrolling run-n-gun game with roguelike elements where you attempt to make it through a series of procedurally-generated dungeons before facing bosses. The game is set in a steampunk world where the discovery of a substance called “goop” has turned everyone into a monster. Guess who’s on clean-up duty? Here’s your mop and your gun, soldier. Make Ravensdale spotless again.
To expand on the story, a villainous guy called Hector Von Gorg turned Ravensdale from a once-thriving city into a place inhabited by foul, bootlicking, ugly foes, and you’re a member of the city troops recruited to clean the place up and put Hector away for good. Preferably in a shallow grave somewhere swampy.
Rogue Stormers plays as a twin-stick shooter (or a keyboard and mouse shooter if you aren’t into controllers), and you have one main weapon and one sub weapon to use against the hordes of goblins and nasties. The objective of each stage is to fight your way to the exit, defeat the boss or gate, and move on. Along the way you can gather all sorts of pickups such as different secondary weapons, health, keys, and–for want of a better word–stuff. The “stuff” does a variety of things from perking up your health meter to increasing the amount of damage you deal out, to helping you collect more keys. For those who manage to eventually make it past the bosses, there are unlockable characters to play with, too.
The game plays a lot like many modern roguelikes such as Rogue Legacy. The difficulty curve is kept disproportionately high to maintain replayability, with permanent upgrades that unlock the more XP you gather (this is dropped by enemies you kill, of course, but not every enemy drops XP). And to keep interest high, the game generates a new stage layout every time you play. The stages themselves are well built each time, and there’s the occasional challenge of navigating the stages. There are the usual tropes in platformer games: floating platforms, moving platforms, and semi-solid platforms, but there are some unusual ones here, too, such as floors that flame up now and again. There are also goop spawn points dotted around, which usually means a protracted battle until the machines stop sending foes at you.
While fairly good to look at, Rogue Stormers still suffers a number of glitches and graphical problems (one of the reasons that this review is so late out the door). Naturally, as the patches start rolling in the game will improve, but there was a time early on where I was struggling to even play more than one round. Thankfully, the developers, Black Forest Games, seem fairly on top of bugs.
The game’s biggest attraction is also its biggest downfall at the moment: you can theoretically play online with others (which naturally makes the game a hell of a lot more fun, and also a great deal easier), but the online community is somewhat lacking at present. As the game gains some traction, I hope to see more players online to match with. Thankfully, there’s still local co-op mode (provided you have at least one controller), and if you have someone to play with, the game absolutely shines.
Overall, while I do recommend Rogue Stormers as a wonderfully mindless fun game, it comes with a few caveats as mentioned above. It’s good fun and has that “one more round” quality that makes for excellent roguelike games. The lack of online community is a bit of a pity, but the local mode makes up for it nicely. The unlockable perks make it feel as though you’re making progress, and like many games of this ilk, a badly-spawned level can be just as deadly as the enemies you face.