By: Matthew Striplen
Hector von Garg, a crazed crime lord, is ruining your city. A flood of brainwashed and mutated fanatics is overrunning everything, and it’s up to the Rogue Stormers, a team of wacky mercenaries, to wipe them out. Shoot you way through the masses and upgrade your weaponry to victory!
Rogue Stormers is all about action, and it has a control scheme to match. Everything feels very intuitive, utilizing standard WASD and mouse controls. Movement and aiming also feel responsive and fluid.
If you’re accustomed to sweeping landscapes and gorgeous scenery, prepare to take a full 180 and embrace the grungy world of Rogue Stormers. The environment is purposefully ugly, due to the fact that the Transgoop Corporation polluted the world beyond recognition. The enemies are suitably unsightly, which makes blowing them up all the more fun.
As for the soundtrack, there’s not much to be said. Dark, distorted bass synthesizers blare through most of the game, but the tracks lack memorable qualities. The sound effects are tons of fun, however, with the various squelching and explosion noises giving the action weight.
Rogue Stormers is a 2D action/platformer roguelike. As with all roguelikes, the stages are randomly generated. The difficulty of each iteration of the first level tends to fluctuate a bit, so be careful when venturing out into the world.
Players choose from a wacky cast of characters, ranging from a werewolf to a pyromaniac opera singer. Each has a unique weapon and skills, which can all be upgraded. Brecht, the only playable character from the start, uses his machine gun to mow down enemies, but the world is littered with power-ups.
These upgrades are key to survival, as they increase your basic abilities, add special bonuses to your primary weapon, or offer a multitude of other benefits. Only certain upgrades are carried over between playthroughs, however.
Secondary weapons are acquired by killing enemies, found in chests, or purchased through various means. Only one of these weapons can be carried at a time, but they appear so frequently that swapping them out becomes half the game’s fun.
The most common way to get upgrades, aside from killing enemies, is to gamble for them. Large signs reading “Jackpot!” are scattered through each stage. Their price depends on the potential rewards, but the payoff is almost always worth the risk. The player always gets something, but the usefulness of the item varies.
Chests are also a great way to improve your character, but accessing their contents isn’t as simple as you might think. A handful of chests are unlocked and can be readily plundered, while others require keys or gold to unlock.
The best prizes are always sealed in “hungry” chests, which consume your health. Medical packs are not readily available, so weigh your options carefully before investing in a hungry chest.
Ultimately, the biggest issue with Rogue Stormers is the lack of variety. Although the stages are randomly generated, they are created using very limited assets, and sometimes recycle entire rooms from previous playthroughs.
Enemy variety is also a problem. Almost every opponent is some form of goblin-like mutant. Most of them mindlessly attack the player and are easily defeated. Some mutants throw fireballs, but most stick to the same formula. A few larger enemies spawn smaller mutants or shoot different weaponry at the player, but it’s not enough to keep gameplay engaging.
These issues are especially important given the nature of roguelikes. Since Rogue Stormers features perma-death, players will find themselves playing the first few levels many times before their character is strong enough to proceed. Plus, when a new character is unlocked, they are just as weak as the first character, so be prepared to do a lot of grinding.
One of Rogue Stormers‘ greatest strengths is its multiplayer co-op. Up to four players can play locally, which is tons of fun, provided you have enough controllers, but the online multiplayer doesn’t have much of a following. Having friends join you on your quest makes survival much easier, but players should still expect a good challenge.
Rogue Stormers is a quirky roguelike 2D shooter with a fun premise but imperfect execution. The lack of variety in enemy and environment design is the game’s most serious flaw. That said; blasting your way through the game with a few of your buddies is the best way to experience it.