A lightning-fast rogue-lite that rarely slows down.
Genre: Action Rogue-lite
Developer: Flying Oak Games
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Release date: 21 Oct, 2020
Rogue-lites are the talk of the town currently. This year, we’ve seen more of them release than any other. However, this spike of popularity has resulted in an abundance of games belonging to the genre. ScourgeBringer, developed by Flying Oak Games, is one of the newer additions. Can it manage to stand out in an oversaturated market?
The Quick and the Dead
ScourgeBringer is fast. Assuming the role of a warrior named Kyhra, you’ll dash and slash through interconnected chambers filled with monstrous creatures, high-tech robots and fiendish devils. The combat is gratifying, but expect to die a lot. With a steep learning curve, it can be hard to keep up with the rapid pace. Being quick is the goal. When you’re up against multiple enemies, all of which demand your attention, it can get hectic.
Luckily, Kyhra is agile and fierce. Her swift dashes allow her to dodge incoming attacks while also moving closer to enemies. With a concise set of maneuvers, each inclusion has its purpose. Your quick attack can dispose of foes efficiently. Each enemy has a stronger attack, indicated by a flashing exclamation point above their head. By smashing them with a heavy attack beforehand, you can stun them. If you don’t like getting up close and personal, you’re armed with a ranged weapon. There are many to choose from; grenade launchers, shotguns and so on.
To complete the game, you have to overcome the challenges of five locales. The first two are similar in function, while the others modify the rules. In one area, as an example, walls won’t protect you; projectiles will fly right through, forcing you to face your foes head-on. I liked this aspect of the level design, as it encourages you to approach the game differently, while keeping the core intact. That being said, this isn’t a game that’s easy to approach. With a low tolerance for error, it’s brutally punishing. Kyhra starts out with only 8 health points, and the struggle to stay alive will make it hard to keep your nerves in check. Each area comes with its own learning curve; once you complete one, another will be waiting to test your skills.
What’S a Rogue-lite without Replayability?
Unfortunately, the game lacks variety. Whereas other rogue-lites offer heaps of items, tools and weapons to choose from, ScourgeBringer’s selection is limited, with a single melee weapon and a limited collection of firearms. Instead of trying out new tactics, I would retrace my steps. Why, you ask? Because it worked. The combat doesn’t encourage creativity, and the lack of variation abolished my incentive to replay the game. It’s not that the game doesn’t advocate this; upon finishing the game, you’ll unlock modifiers that acclimate the difficulty, and there are also additional endings to witness.
In between runs, you’ll find yourself at the Chiming Three. Here, you can acquire skills by investing Judge Blood. Aside from a bestiary, this is the only progression that carries over from run to run. At first, I liked the concept of acquiring new moves and upgrades, but I was disappointed when I unlocked them all early on. It meant that, for the remaining 40 hours or so, I had no option of permanently improving my character. It also resulted in the aforementioned currency becoming useless, as it has no other purpose.
As you annihilate hordes of enemies, you earn blood droplets. These are used to purchase items from Greed, an acquisitive merchant whose name is self-explanatory. You can increase the amount obtained by building up your combo meter. The more times you hit a creature, the higher it goes. Should you take damage, it resets. Whereas the frantic pace encourages you to be quick, this system functions as a reminder that you are, indeed, not invincible.
A Mysterious World
Each area requires you to beat a Judge before proceeding. To face them, you must first defeat a number of Guardians. In the first two areas, you need only defeat one, but the number rises as you progress. I enjoyed fighting the bosses; however, I couldn’t help but feel like they were easier than the conventional enemies once I got used to their movesets. Nonetheless, they’re enjoyable and bring a nice change of pace to the action.
Right from the beginning, it’s clear that lore and world-building isn’t the focal point. You can find logs of text which provide insight into the world you’re exploring, but none of the coherent themes are explored enough to result in an intriguing story. The game’s setting is nothing out of the ordinary, serving as a backdrop for the exciting gameplay loop. When the combat is excellent, which is the case here, that’s not a problem.
The visuals are simple yet effective. ScourgeBringer’s pixel art style can be hard to comprehend at first, but once you get used to it, it’s charming to glance at. Its lack of detail combined with sharp textures produce a unique appearance. As for the soundtrack, it’s a nice mix of heavy metal and occasional 8-bit tunes. Although not particularly memorable, it’s nice listening to while you slay the monstrosities you encounter on your journey.
Intel Core i7-10700K, RTX 2070 Super, 16GB DDR4 RAM @ 3200Mhz, Intel 660P NVME M.2 SSD | 1440p
- Performance: There were no issues whatsoever. Running at a blissful 2000+ frames per second, the experience was smooth.
- Polish: I encountered one crash during my 60 hours of playtime. This wasn’t a returning issue, and as such, not a big deal. Other than that, there were a few instances of room entrances not appearing, but it was easy to solve.
- Controls: Using a controller is the best option, but mouse/keyboard works as well.
ScourgeBringer will keep your heart racing as you struggle to keep up with its frantic pace. However, once you manage to, you’ll be addicted. It’s unforgiving; each area has its own learning curve, and the tolerance for error is minor, resulting in a satisfying experience. Unfortunately, there’s a lack of variety, reducing the replay value, an important aspect of a rogue-lite. With that said, I enjoyed the game, and I would recommend it – just keep your expectations in check.