Remilore is a good game for beginners of rogue-lites to get their feet wet with, but veterans may find it a bit lacking.
Steam: Coming Soon
Type: Single-player, Local Co-op
Developer: Pixellore, Inc., REMIMORY
Publisher: Nicalis, Inc.
PS4/Switch Release: Feb 2019
PC Release: April 2019
I’ll be up front, Remilore is not a great game for big-time rogue-lite fans. I say this because the progression of the game is simplified to the point where it is just doesn’t feel like there are enough options, enemy variety, or skills for those used to such things. This game is best for those who enjoy the anime visual novel style of storytelling and are completely new to the concept of rogue-lite games. If you are looking for something that is fairly easy to beat because other rogue-lites may seem too off-putting with their difficulty, this is a good starting point. Remilore is well done, it just doesn’t offer the same depth as competitors like Enter the Gungeon, the Binding of Issac, or Dead Cells.
The story in Remilore is sufficient in its anime visual novel presentation, though more on the sweet and entertaining side with some rather good banter between the three main characters. Don’t expect any major drama or plot points, the story just barely fills the game. At times, though, the dialogue can be a bit grating, probably more so for those that don’t particularly like anime. Expect some of the usual anime tropes and a few surprises along the way.
You start out as Remi, a student sweeping the school library. While cleaning up, she bumps into a magic book named Lore who is startled and accidentally transports them both to a world he escaped from. Apparently, he is on the run from a rogue android named Choux that was trying to kill all the humans that her master was so curious about. Since her master is missing, she has taken over this world with her evil robots. Your goal is to make it through four Acts made up of three sublevels each, followed by bosses, and then teleport back to your world. Once completed, you also obtain some options for some extra difficulty as well as a second chapter that repeats all the same levels, but with a new story.
I do feel the story is very light, and there is an option to play the game without the story at all. In co-op mode there is no story, so keep that in mind in case you wanted to play this co-op. Overall, while well acted and whimsical, it’s not a tour de force by any means. Should you skip it? Only if you can’t stand the Lore character as he does get a bit annoying. You can skip the story while playing the campaign, so that’s a help for those that just want to play without being disturbed in case you started out in campaign mode instead of non-campaign mode.
The bulk of the gameplay is a top-down hack and slash with some simple combos to attack with on your PS4 Dualshock controller such as triangle+triangle+circle or circle+circle+circle. Combos deal the best amount of damage but do take a bit longer to complete. So, you have to decide if you have enough time to actually pull off a combo or just hit an enemy a few times, move away, and then attempt to hit it again.
This action style is well done, dealing small amounts of damage with a decent knockback effect until you get random loot drops for more powerful weapons. These weapons are often somewhat silly, ranging from a soup spoon to a pair of gloves covered in poop, I kid you not. There are fast swords or heavy hammers, but I often found myself preferring the swords because the time to actually use the hammer was so long that I’d be hit before it landed on the enemy. My personal favorite was the golden broom and if you get that weapon, do not trade it away!
Additionally, the Lore character helps out a lot with a varying magical spell that comes with each weapon. It’s a good amount of variety ranging from attacks that freeze, rage, ambush, have spiral bullets, or heat-seaking bullets. Some other abilities are unlocked after you finish the game and replay it. He can use these magic attacks a limited number of times until his MP is depleted. It’s quite easy to replenish that, though, as the whole game is littered with desserts that power him up. The usual way to approach a room of evil robots is to allow Lore to use his magic attack while mowing them down with your weapon. With mid-bosses, it was best to circle around them using his magic attack to wear them out. If you end up with a magic ability that stinks, though, you’ll struggle a bit until you get a better one because clearing these rooms without magic can be tough.
Last, but not least, there is a dash move you can make to escape an enemy at a moments notice. There is a cooldown to prevent spamming it, but I found I used it quite often to avoid being hit anyway. The downside is that you need a clear path, you can’t dash through a tangle of obstacles or enemies. That means you may want to dash, but if you don’t aim correctly you’ll end up on the front of someone’s spear instead.
All this amounts to a good set of skills to hack and slash your way through rooms filled with enemies, attacking certain enemies with long range from behind, then dashing to the side to attack from another angle while you get your combo going. It’s a little fast, but not overly so. The real trick is dealing with close range enemies that you can’t dash away from so well or the ones that have very heavy armor which protects them and gives them the option of attacking you before your attack knockback sets in. I enjoyed the combat since I like hack and slash games in general.
The levels and the rooms they contain are completely randomly generated, so no playthrough feels the same. This is good and bad. I like the variety, but often I’d enter a room where enemies spawn and it would be so cramped that I’d nearly die from the close quarters allowing for lots of enemy attacks even if I dashed out of the way. It’s annoying, but not impossible to get out of.
This brings me to the next issue, health potion drops. These happen randomly after you defeat a robot, so one sublevel may get something like eight health potions, and the next may only have two. This can make things a bit scary if you end up with a bad weapon and there are no health drops for several rooms. Fortunately, there is a random store to buy health with if you can find it. That has helped me a number of times. You also get the option to buy more health at the end of a sublevel.
Weapons come by one of two ways. There are loot chests you unlock, one in the middle of the sublevel and a set of loot chests the end of the sublevel. You open them and try your luck. Hopefully, you get a weapon that does some good damage and has a decent spell. The weapons are rated D through S and drop sort of randomly. I say sort of because you can upgrade your ability to get a decent weapon in the upgrade menu. You can also buy a random drop weapon if you have enough dessert points on hand at the shop or the end of the sublevel.
The mid-bosses also have these random Chance drops. In the beginning, I’d grab these and it would level up my health or MP, so all as good. Then, I had a few actually damage me! I was quite wary of them after that and tried them sparingly. However, a few times these luck drops would switch out my magical weapon ability for something completely useless like an Ambush attack that did very little damage. I avoided them at all costs after that because once I got a good weapon, there was no way any extra health was worth losing the magic it came with.
Against bosses, the magic is supplemental at best. You will be relying on your dash and weapon attacks almost exclusively. The trick is to figure out the attack pattern of the boss. Once you do that, you are pretty much golden to finish the level, assuming you don’t die and have to restart the whole Act all over again. I didn’t find the boss fights very hard, but the last one was decent as it killed me right when we both only had one attack of health left. Don’t expect super hard bosses, I’ve had harder bosses in Sonic Mania. These are generally easy to get through on the Normal setting and remember to use your dash to get out of the way often.
One of the disappointing aspects were the enemy types. There is variety, but for the most part, they all feel the same except for the last mid-boss. Some have long-range weapons like swords or spears, others have bombs or slow moving bullets. A swarm of them can be a mild challenge, but it would be nice if there were some change up in the attack styles. It all felt like the enemies were reskinned with just slight differences. They look great but feel all the same.
When you die, you have the option to start over from the beginning of the Act. You can also save at any time, but you will lose your progress and start over from the last Act again. To avoid this, I left my PS4 on Pause and I went to do something for 7 minutes. When I came back, my game was frozen. I was really upset because I made had it to the last boss fight and had to do it all over again, not a good thing. Another time I thought it would save the game for me if I went to the Main Menu after dying, only to come back and find my entire game save deleted. Keep that in mind, it does not autosave your progress if you quit to the menu.
While I feel the backbone of the game is fine, albeit with a less progression than I’d like to have, the game doesn’t have the same depth as much of the now genre-defining leaders of rogue-lites also available. That’s why I really think this game is best for new players to the genre, anyone who has played a good rogue-lite before will likely not be thrilled with this purchase because it just feels like it is lacking in comparison.
I have to say the graphics look great for a top-down hack and slash. Is it next gen? Not really, and I don’t think that is what they are shooting for, but the effects and robot designs look wonderful with brightly colored animations that explode and destroy with an artistic flair. I specifically liked the Flame attack that unlocks later on, shooting flames everywhere and burning everything to cinders. I can see such a great amount of detail in every frame and even full-sized character images, which are mostly static, are very well drawn as well.
The voice acting, despite not understanding Japanese, felt like it was acted with professionalism and recorded perfectly. The only issue I had really was that Lore’s dialogue could get on my nerves at times, but that has nothing to do with the audio itself.
There is some fantastic banter they dish out while fighting as well. However, since I don’t speak Japanese I didn’t really catch much of it because it goes on while I am fighting. Hard to keep my eyes in two places at once.
Sounds effects do a great job of telling you that an enemy is about to attack or magic spell was activated. I just wish there was a way to see the location of the mid-bosses better on screen. The fact that I had to search around so much would lower my completion score at the end of a room. Those scores determine how many loot weapon boxes appear at the end of the sublevel, so I wanted to get as high a score as possible.
Remilore is a good starter game for folks interested in rogue-lite games and enjoy the hack and slash combat with some spells thrown in for good measure. It’s not a difficult game to complete and you should be able to do it within a weekend.
As for replayability, there is a second chapter that is unlocked after you defeat the game and over 200 weapons to find. The problem is the levels and bosses will all be the same other than having procedurally generated rooms. Plus, most of those weapons end up as ones you’ll never use because once you find the one that works well, it’s rather difficult to drop it in favor of a new one that might not have the same features.
For rogue-lite fans, I don’t think this will sate you. There are other titles from Nicalis like the Binding of Issac Afterbirth+ that are significantly more involved.