Developer: Padaone Games
Publisher: PadaOne Games
Platform: Wii U
A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of this review by the publisher.
Roving Rogue is very unlike other games. Most stories tend to start at the beginning of a heroes quest, but this one starts at the end .It chronicles the hero’s travel back to where he began. It is one of these things that I have honestly always wondered about. Once finishing a quest, how is the journey back? Let’s face it, we don’t all have Great Eagles to come and save us at the end do we?
(Yes that was a Lord of the Rings reference)
Roving Rogue started life as a competition entrance in the iDÉAME U 2013, the winner would go on to be released on the Wii U. Roving Rogue won (Obviously), and after two years of development and fan feedback it has been released. The game follows some chap called Kurt after defeating the final boss. You must travel back from where you came, once again traversing levels you’ve previously visited.
The game is made up of around 40 levels, across a single player story. There is also a 4 player co-operative multiplayer mode. Unfortunately I was not able to play the multiplayer mode, but a game should be able to stand up on its single player offering alone! From what I hear the multiplayer mode is reminiscent of Super Mario Scumbag Multiplayer, in which you can knock your friends down and what not.
So first things first, I really didn’t enjoy this game to begin with. I found it to be just a little bit too simple. The lack of actual combat was also something that bothered me. I found jumping on an enemy’s head to kill them, a little bit too archaic. The games narrative is incredibly annoying, it’s all a little too “Meta” for my liking. Constant referrals to the fact that Kurt is in a game coupled with the use of hashtags really started to annoy me after a few hours of playing. It’s something I imagine even a 14-year-old would likely cringe at, although I feel like this is who the humor is aimed at. Having said this, after a few hours of play something clicked and I started to enjoy Roving Rogue.
Ignoring all the enemies and just looking at the levels from a platforming view is super fun. I found myself trying to run through the levels as quick as I could. Something I used to do in Mirrors Edge. Add this speed run mentality to the impending hazards that are always present below or behind the player, and you can have some really manic moments. These are the moments in which this game shines. Rising lava constantly nipping at your heels, helps you move that little bit faster and more urgently. This is joy is soon spoiled by the inclusion of mass visual noise in the form of enemies.
The increase in enemies on the screen turns the game into one of them crazy bullet hell like experiences, which can be extremely frustrating. I understand the need to increase difficulty, achieving this with the environment alone was probably too much of a challenge. So the developers gradually just fill the screen with enemies and the projectiles they constantly fire. Towards the end of the game it is nothing more than an annoyance, with pot luck and countless retries being the way to get through. It a shame the game relies so heavily on an influx of enemies to create difficulty, as the platforming parts are incredibly fun.
The art style is quite simple it does the job nicely. Pixel art compliments the game’s setting well, showing the variation in colours between icy castle tops and lava filled depths. This does lead to issues in later levels as the contrast in colours can lead to the screen being cluttered, making it rather difficult to see Kurt. Other than that niggle the visual style is pleasing and suits the game’s setting and genre. Unfortunately the game’s soundtrack isn’t on the same level of polish. I understand that Roving Rogue has come from an Indie Studio, so I’m probably being a little harsh. If I’m going to be playing your game for 8-12 hours, I want to hear more than one song. After 4-5 hours of playing, I found myself just muting the game and listening to my own music. Which is honestly something I don’t like to do, I want to experience the games intended soundtrack.
The last level is absolute torture . I understand that the last level is important and you want the game to finish a memorable and cinematic manner. But forcing the player to sit through a half an hour level is just silly. I found myself slowly just wishing for the end, it almost felt like I was being tormented. It got so bad that I had to take a break in order to not end up turning the game off. If the last level is so long that I consider turning the game off, then something has gone wrong. Once again, I can understand how this could seem like a good idea on paper “Let’s have our hero Kurt, fight a long and arduous journey in the final tower in order to return home” This does not translate well when 75 % of the level is filled with enemy’s firing at you, and you are slowly losing the will to live as you’ve already been doing it for 25 minutes.
Roving Rogue is a fun game that seems to end up getting in its own way too much. I feel the enemy spam is unnecessary and only succeeded in making the game more frustrating than it needed to be. Overall the game controls well and when you get into a good run the platforming really shines through. Given that the Wii U is pretty low on 2D platformers this may well be a good investment, although there isn’t really a lot there for the $7.99 that you are paying. It may be worth waiting for a sale, and seeing if you can nab Roving Rogue a little cheaper.
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