Game Review RPG

Streets of Rogue Early Access Review

 Streets of Rogue is a “retro” top-down RPG that gives the players a hilarious amount of gameplay choices that significantly encourages replayability.

Developed by sole developer Matt Dabrowski and published by tinyBuild, Streets of Rogue aims to bring rogue-lite RPG games of old up-to-date in a “retro” styled procedural format.

One of the many ways to lure unsuspecting foes to you.

Narrative

In Streets of Rogue you play as the newest member of The Resistance, a group of freedom fighters whose goal is to kill the Major of the city the game takes place in. As your initiation begins, your fellow freedom fighters quickly realize how cunning and dangerous you actually are. Which results in the leaders of The Resistance adding you to the “kill the major” overarching mission. Since this is a game about choices, the plot is not overly complex due to you affecting nearly everything in the playable world, which leaves you with many ways to deal with each scenario that presents itself to you.

This screen doubles as a map and objective reminder.

Gameplay

As a sort of retro top-down Deux Ex type of game, Streets of Rogue grants you nearly full blown player choice when to comes to completing the game’s randomly generated levels. Each generated level host numerous different events going on at the same time, as well as, specific objectives that must be completed before progressing to the next one. Completing the objectives ensures your ability to move on, but there is much more to each level than just those main objectives. Each level has so much going on that you would likely be missing out on loot or free experience by not straying away from the main objectives. Even after you complete them, you are not forced to progress to the next one immediately, encouraging full exploration whenever possible.

There are a number of ways to get through door obstructions such as this one.

Any of the situations that may occur can be dealt with in a plethora of different ways depending on the abilities you have and the tools you have obtained. When starting the first mission, just after the tutorial, you are given the ability to pick from a list of pre-made characters that can be semi-customized to your liking. Each character has their own set of starting gear and abilities that can be used to influence different parts of each mission. For example, the Soldier character starts off with three timed explosives. I was able to break into a prison with a steel door using one of the explosives and free the prisoners. If I had chosen a different character, I might have been able to free those same prisoners through other existing methods. Not every action has to be noble, however. Another example is when I decided to use cigarettes to poison the air ventilation in a bar with nicotine smoke. This caused everyone in the bar to flee the scene for a short time, allowing me to break into the back and steal the cash from the safe. The game is full of scenarios like these, and every single one can be handled differently making this a game with a huge amount of potential and replay-ability.

Your inventory will constant be full with all the loot there is to obtain.

Streets of Rogue is not just a game of choice in its scenarios, however. The game also doubles as a full RPG as well. Starting the game at level one, you have limited access to traits and abilities that can provide advantages in different scenarios. As you level up, you gain access to more and more traits that grant you easier access to things that normally would be difficult to achieve. Experience is gained from almost every action you take, but leveling up is only done at the end of a level. You are shown a summary of the actions you’ve taken thus far and then given the opportunity to choose a new trait from a small but constantly expanding list of traits. At one point I was given the option to pick the “Bloody Mess” trait which was obviously a nod to the Fallout series.

These Goons are in for a big surprise.

In a similar mindset, loot is a major part of the game as well. Literally every NPC you kill, and almost everything you break will provide you with something of value that can be picked up. Some loot is randomized so you will never know exactly what you will obtain. However, much of the loot makes sense based on what it is you are looting. For example, killing a cop might result in a police baton or pistol loot drop which you can pick up and use as you please. Much like traits and abilities, loot drops can dramatically alter how a scenario is handled. If I had a hacking tool, in the example about the prison above, I could have simply hacked the computer from the outside, freeing the prisoners without every having to set foot in the prison itself. With so much variety here, Streets of Rogue clearly aims to be continuously entertaining even after completing the entire game. The replay value is honestly off the charts.

Multiplayer

Streets of Rogue does have multiplayer, but it is only local and the second player must use a gamepad to play, rather than a mouse and keyboard. As the game is still very early on in development, this is understandable, but hopefully, coop play is given more attention later on. Other than this, there is not much else to say about coop other than that it is mindless fun roaming the Streets of Rogue with a partner at your side. All of the same rules apply to both players, so there are no problems in that regard.

EDITOR’S NOTE [3/18/2017]: Matt Dabrowski, developer for Streets of Rogue, reminded us that it does have online multiplayer. We apologize for the mistake.

This slave camp must be liberated at all cost.

Performance & Graphics

Visually speaking, Streets of Rogue successful pulls off a newer “retro” style the game is aiming for. Each character has very limited animations, but these limitations stretch throughout the entire game, making it all mesh well together. Explosions are bright and colorful, but also simplistic, matching what you might expect from a “retro” type game in 2017. Levels typically look similar to each other, visually, but they are all generated with their own events making them interesting anyway.

Bullets are big and visible, allowing you to react to them.

Performance-wise, I had no trouble running the game in a mid-level computer. However, I do not believe anyone will have much trouble running this game due to its “retro” nature. There is nothing here that is demanding enough to affect performance.

Audio

As with the graphics, the audio in Streets of Rogue is purposely built to be “retro” as well. Music that plays during gameplay sounds like something you might hear from older games from the 1990s. In general, the music compliments the gameplay very well, as they’re all typical upbeat tracks. In addition, the sound effects; from firing your weapons to landing punches all sound very convincing for this type of game. Surprisingly, the not “retro” sound effects still manage to mesh well with everything else in the game. The sound of a NPC exploding into a bloody mess is especially thrilling. Needless to say, Streets of Rogue nails the audio perfectly.

Foes can be distracted with a Boombox.

Final Thoughts

Streets of Rogue is a wonderful example of how player choice can dramatically affect how much enjoyment one can come from a game so simplistic in its storyline. While the gameplay is absolutely a major factor here, the amount of choices one can make is utterly staggering, giving rise to an enormous amount of replayability Though it is an Early Access title, Streets of Rogue is absolutely worth the current asking price. Streets of Rogue is currently available on PC through Steam.

Score: 9

 

About the author

Darrus "Maljas" Myles

A charismatic gamer, writer, and game developer who utilizes his natural and trained gifts to bring entertainment to those around the globe.