‘Deux Ex Meets Nuclear Throne’. Does it measure up?
Steam: Released (Early Access)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release date: 20 Aug, 2017
Type: Single-player, Multi-player
Streets of Rogue is an early access rogue-lite that like just came out on Steam today. It bills itself as being ‘like Deus Ex meets Nuclear Throne’, so I’m sure the four or five people that have been eagerly awaiting such a mix are on the edge of their seats. Even if they’re as different as night and day, both those properties are made with quality, excusing two or maybe three games in the case of the former, depending on who you ask. Can this one live up to such a bold claim? I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but it’s looking like a good game on its own.
The game takes place in your typical cyberpunk city where a newly elected mayor has gone corrupt, buying out the police force, abusing his authority, and generally making the place worse for everyone. People from all walks of life are lining up to take a crack at him through an underground resistance movement, and to do that you’ll need to head up from the slums, doing missions on each ‘floor’. These can range from killing either specific or multiple targets, rescuing a hostage under guard, or finding items. Uniquely for a roguelite, each level is set up open world style, and not everyone is out to get you by default. This means you can scope out the buildings your objective is in, look for items or money, and determine the best way of going about things without getting killed.
You certainly have a lot of ways to do it, as Streets of Rogue offers up more than a dozen characters, not all of which really have anything to do with cyberpunk but who do all have their own niche and things they’re geared for. The Soldier starts with weaponry and health regeneration in a pinch if you feel like taking things head-on, the Hacker can manipulate computers more easily for the stealthy approach, and so on. There’s even goofy choices like a gorilla who aggros scientists on sight, or a vampire who can suck people’s blood. If you want to go full Deus Ex, the default character starts with nothing at all, but gains experience more quickly and has more perks to choose from when they level up.
It’s a lot slower-paced than other roguelites because as far as I can tell there’s no direct time limit besides some random hazards on some floors, such as random flashes of radiation that damage you if you’re not indoors. Aside from that you’re free to plan out your method of attack on each objective freely. On one level I had to retrieve an item from inside a guarded bar, so I tampered with the filtration device outside to make everyone flee, letting me grab it unmolested. I then had to free a slave, but both the slavers were pretty well-armed. So I goaded one into attacking me and let him hit a cop, who killed him for me. I then used his weapon to take out the other slaver. You have a lot of freedom here, which is what you want from a rogue-like. It has the meta progression a lot of them have where you can buy perks, but nothing that flat out makes you better, so you do need to try and learn how the game works.
I found Streets of Rogue to control pretty well using WADS and the mouse, and I imagine a controller would work alright too. Aiming with weapons works about the same as other twin-stick shooters, and as a result is fairly intuitive. Using items from your inventory, such as a remote hacking tool on computers, is also easily done with a few mouse clicks. However, this is much more difficult if you’ve got one or more people on your tail.
While not the best pixel art I’ve ever seen, Streets of Rogue’s graphics are clear enough. You can identify what people you want to be careful around, particularly the police, who will attack you if you do anything aggressive or suspicious. Additionally, you can check what weapons they’re carrying, allowing you to judge how dangerous a fight will be if you have to get into one. Things that are about to explode will glow red first, and when going into a building with traps you can see what floor tiles will trigger them if you pay attention. The graphics definitely help the game.
Surprisingly great. You can see the game has some good tunes from its store trailers, and all of them are techno songs that make you pumped up no matter what you happen to be doing in the game. It’s no wonder the soundtrack is up for sale too.
I quite enjoyed what I’ve played of Streets of Rogue. I’d say it’s more its own beast than being like Deus Ex or Nuclear Throne, but it is certainly unique, and that’s commendable on Steam these days, particularly if that uniqueness makes for a fun game. There’s a free version available on Itchio, so give that a try if this sounds like something you’d be into.
(click on the image to see the rating explanation)