Developer: Rake in Grass
Publisher: Rake in Grass
Genre: Roguelike, Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: 4.9.2015
Over the years, we as gamers have grown way too accustomed to “serious” games; games that don’t joke around enough, or try their hardest to convince us that we’re playing something other than a game. This isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, I’ve always been of the firm belief that games have the potential to go above and beyond what people expect of them. That being said, sometimes it’s nice to kick back and play a silly, simple game and let go of whatever pretensions we might have as gamers. All I can say, is there really is nothing more refreshing than coming across a game that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest. The game that I’m talking about, in this case, is Rampage Knights.
As a game, Rampage Knights is incredibly simple: it’s a beat ‘em up dungeon crawler with roguelike elements. What that means is the game makes use of procedurally generated levels and a permadeath system, which ensures that you’ll have to start the game from the beginning, regardless of how far you progressed. Does that sound familiar?
Well, that’s because Rampage Knights isn’t the first game to follow this exact formula. There are many games which fit into this genre, The Binding of Isaac being one of them. When playing Rampage Knights, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the two of them. They both have procedurally generated rooms filled with randomized weapons and pickups that aid you or hinder you (depending on how lucky you are), and they both have a rather unforgiving permadeath system. However, in terms of actual gameplay both games are quite far removed, and the first game that comes to mind concerning Rampage Knights’ gameplay is Golden Axe.
With that in mind, considering Rampage Knights’ release was fairly recent, does it bring anything new to the table? Not really. I can’t think of anything in Rampage Knights that hasn’t already been done. That being said, while Rampage Knights might seem a little iterative, it is very far from being a bad game.
Rampage Knights is a lot of fun and I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed it, as I mentioned before, was because the game spent most of its time poking fun at itself and fantasy dungeon crawler games in general. The game is hilarious and doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest. Show me a game set in a high fantasy world where American style burgers are a heath item and I will buy you a beer. Show me another game that has an armor piece that looks like a turtle shell and drops a slice of pizza when you get hit and I’ll buy you two. And if you can show me another game that has a potion that turns your head into a butt that farts then prepare to wake up in hospital with alcohol poisoning. I love the fact that the entire game is basically a big joke directed at the fantasy genre. Rampage Knights is as silly as The Binding of Isaac is demented, and I really think that quality works in its favor. The cartoony art style also doesn’t help alleviate that pervasive sense of silliness either, but I honestly don’t think the game would work if it didn’t look the way it did.
Because the game is a dungeon crawler, there is a heavy emphasis on bashing things with swords, maces and other assorted weaponry, including a large carrot for some reason. The combat is simple and doesn’t rely on crazy combos and timing. You swing by pressing D and then you can choose to either uppercut an enemy into the air by pressing the up arrow or swinging them around in an AOE attack by pressing the down arrow. You can also roll away from enemies and incorporate jumping with your attacks. Like I said, it’s all very simple, but the combat is still a lot of fun and I think this has a lot to do with how weighty and responsive it feels. Despite how simple the combat is, the game itself is actually quite hard. Enemies kill you very, very quickly and you have to be very aware of your surroundings and the enemies you’re fighting.
The nature of Rampage Knights also means it has a tonne of replay value. Similarly to The Binding of Isaac, which I’ve seen people log hundreds of hours on, all the rooms within a level are procedurally generated, which means that every playthrough is going to be different even though the actual levels stay the same. There are 9 levels, all of which get harder and harder as you progress. The sheer amount of items, spells, offhand weapons, modifiers and familiars also really spice up the game. All of them are very different and will definitely change up your playstyle; and while some of them might prove to be useful, others are completely useless or an absolute hindrance. The amount of combinations you can wield is crazy, and some of them are quite overpowered indeed.
Like I said before, the game is hard. But what I really like about the difficulty is how dynamic it is. You never know how difficult the next room is going to be, or whether any enemies will spawn at all. You never know if that mysterious potion is going to turn you into a donkey-man hybrid or cure a curse. And that murky water? You might want to think twice about drinking it. Thankfully the game does have a co-op function, so if you’ve turned into a donkey person you can at least rely on your buddy to not completely botch the playthrough.
Rampage Knights is a lot of fun. It’s a quirky, silly game that is built on a good foundation. It might not be groundbreaking, but it stands tall alongside the other well-known games in its genre.