The Amazing Spider Tank

The Amazing Spider Tank
Spider-Tank, Spider-Tank. Does whatever a Spider-Tank does. Can he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a tank. Look out! He is a Spider-Tank!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Rogue Stormers Review

Rogue Stormers is an odd one. I really enjoy the game but it has some issues. Feel free to skip the wall of text until the pro/con list at the bottom :)

It has quite the history. It has it's roots way back in 2007 but through a ton of legal issues and company switches and stuff most of you don't care about it disappeared for a while. It was more recently titled Dieselstormers, but finally got released for Steam as Rogue Stormers in 2014 from Black Forest Games. It did not hit my radar until I saw a preview for it for Xbox. It got released in September and I picked it up pretty quickly.

The game really popped out to me. I really like the art style, and I am a fan of the arcadey games that get released. The game looked like a simple side scrolling action game similar to Metal Slug or Metroid, mixed with the aesthetics of a dieselpunk fantasy world.

The game is described as a run 'n' gun game with roguelike elements. For those of you that don't know, roguelike games are known for procedurally generated levels, simple graphics, and most importantly, permanent death. This means that if you die in the game, you have to start over. If a wave of nostalgia just poured over you, bringing back memories of quarter arcade games and frustrating Nintendo game sessions, then you are in the ballpark. Rogue Stormers also puts in some platforming and RPG elements too, bringing quite the fun mix to the table, or console, or whatever.

In Rogue Stormers you have to try and run 'n' gun through 6 levels. Each level is procedurally generated and finishes with either a miniboss (sphere thingy that's supposed to act as a doorkeeper maybe?), or a big boss. You can play solo, online, or even couch co-op with up to 3 other players.

The best doorknocker in the Universe
Before your game, you get to choose 1 of 5 different characters to be. Each character has their own unique look and background, and each one features a different weapon and special ability that recharges as you play. Everyone starts out with only Brecht, a werewolf with a machine gun whose ability is to use Lunacy, which increases his fire rate and damage. As you succeed in the game you will unlock the other characters. Beating the game is the only way to unlock them all. Each character feels very different. For example, while Brecht is the common soldier everyone can understand when starting out, just shooting everything from afar, Stabbygale is quite the opposite and requires you to be close up to best use her shotgun or her bladesaw which pulls enemies closer. Presto has a flamethrower and a blazing shield, Camille has a rocket launcher and fires even more rockets with her special ability, and El Cazador has a sniper rifle and whose special attack pierces all enemies. All the characters look and play very differently, which is pretty cool. Although I must say it feels as though Brecht is by far the easiest to succeed with, which is nice since he's the first guy you get, but the other characters seem like a challenge mode at times. Each character also starts out with different amounts of health, keys (which can be used in the game to unlock chests with perks), and gold (which can be used in game to buy perks). This game also has a surprisingly large amount of lore to unlock and read, for those of you that like that.

Any game that reminds me of Labyrinth gets bonus points
Throughout your session you will encounter mainly goblin/orc-like (that remind me a lot of Labyrinth) enemies that try and shoot and/or stab you to death. You have a health meter, so at least it isn't a 1-hit KO. You will gather gold that can be used to gamble at the chance for power ups and health packs. There are a ton of power ups available, and they stick with your character as long as you don't die. If you can make it through all the levels you will probably have quite the assortment of stuff that can range from simply increasing your life total, to giving you little shield drones, to even allowing you to fly. You can also purchase/find secondary weapons that also feature a wide variety of abilities from a simple machine gun, to a turret, or even an electric boomerang. Some enemies will drop experience, which is a very odd thing for a roguelike game to have. This is where Black Forest games throws its players a bone.

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You see every time your session ends in a grisly death, and believe me, it will happen a lot, the experience you randomly gain stays on your character. Whenever you gain enough to level up, you get a slot machine roll at a choice between 2 random perks. These perks stay with your character, and provide very modest boosts like 3% to your fire rate and stuff like that. However, these perks only apply to the character that you leveled with, and each character has 60 levels. And with the infrequency of experience drops, you will have to play a lot to fully upgrade a character. I do like the system though as my lvl 28 Brecht is definitely better than a vanilla Brecht with my starting health having a decent boost of 15 health.

I also really like the procedurally generated levels. Each playthrough feels different and you have to find your path through the various obstacles and traps, trying to find the boss room. The bosses all have a very unique and awesome look to them, and the encounters play out very differently too. They all test your abilities and definitely reward pattern recognition.

Where is a tank trap when you need one?
I love/hate the difficulty. This is a very hard game. This is something a lot of people had issues with when it came to personal reviews. You will die a ton. That is part of the design, as the perk thing with experience is supposed to help you, but it's still very hard. I am definitely not the best video gamer, and I don't have a ton of experience with games like this, but I know I'm probably above average, and it took me a very long time to beat a playthrough with Brecht. Although I know a lot of the time was just goofing around, but I was at hour 17 of playing this game when I finally beat the final boss. Since it is a roguelike you can get to the 2nd to last boss in the game, but if you die, you have to start over from the beginning. The game rewards patience as health can be difficult to get, and the frantic strafing and dodging of 100 goblins hopping about the screen can whittle down your health pretty quickly. I still love the game, but the difficulty may be too much for a lot of people.

I am also very confused at some of the unlockables and achievements. Some of those things require several playthroughs with specific characters. That is quite a grind. Maybe they expect gamers to get really good at this game, but considering how long it took me to beat the game there is no way I'm unlocking all the other stuff. Also, just because you beat it once doesn't mean you'll do it again right away. The game has a lot of luck when it comes to drops. You can fight the first boss and he drops a gold chest, but that chest requires 500 gold, and it's very unlikely you amassed that amount in the first few rooms. So you lose out on an upgrade. Or you just can't get a key to drop from anyone and there are chests everywhere. In order to beat the game I feel like you really need a lot of good perks and that just sometimes doesn't happen. I had a runthrough that started out with 2 very good upgrades that boosted my damage, but lowered my total health. However, I could not find a health upgrade for 2 stages and so my health total was so low that I was killed in only a couple of hits.

Sure, the rent is high, but you can't put a price on smog
The graphics aren't anything too amazing but I was fine with them. I really enjoy looking at the background, from the ramshackled slums at the surface, to the Cthulhu inspired ancient temples below. The music is rather lackluster but I don't play these games for the music. If the visuals, and more importantly, gameplay, are good then I'm fine.

I must say I really enjoy the gameplay. it is fast and frantic but pretty fair I think. There were many times when I took damage and if I had remembered to dash I could have avoided it. There are times the game feels unfair when it comes to random drops, but that's what you get with these types of games. I really like the perk system and the upgrades as you play. Each playthrough can feel very different depending on what you get, and you have to change your tactics accordingly. The gunplay is smooth and the various weapons really let you feel a punch. I especially love dropping grenades on packs of goblins and watching them explode into tiny bits.

Mmmmmm, perks
I do have to talk about some of the bad stuff though. This game is largely marketted as a multiplayer game. Yes, you can play it solo, but it is designed as a couch co op or multiplayer. I have not been able to test the couch co op myself as I am at the age where getting several friends over to play a video game is harder than raising a kid. I have attempted, on many occasions, to play multiplayer, and whew was that a bad experience. I could rarely find any players and when I did, the game was so glitchy it was nigh unplayable. The maps blinked on and off or never updated when you found something, the lag was worse than dialup internet, and it was all around a miserable experience. Granted there were some glitches in the Matrix that caused the game to drastically underperform and fail in a variety of ways when it came to matchmaking, and I have been told by the developers that they put in a patch that should fix that, but still. For a game that is supposed to stand on its multiplayer, this game failed. I still have hopes that I will be able to complete a match online, or even better play with some friends on a couch, but I have a fear that I may be playing this game solo most of the time.

This game is also fairly expensive for what it offers. I feel as though I've gotten my money's worth, but a $20 price tag on what is essentially an old school style game seems a tad high. I know that will be a barrier to many players who already have trouble rationalizing a $60 purchase for a game that has a 10 hour story mode.

However, when all is said and done, I will gladly pick up and play a session of this game. I really enjoy hopping around and killing goblins in a beautiful world.

So, to summarize what I think:


-Procedurally Generated map and random drops keeps the replayability high

-5 different characters play and feel unique

-Beautiful art style and world design and satisfying animation

-Couch co op!


-Too difficult for most people and can be a bit grindy at times

-$20 price tag is a tad high for an arcade game

-Random drops and perks combined with permadeath can feel unfair at times

-Currently it is hard to find players online and for people, who rely on that, might be stuck with single player

Final Words

Anyway thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this rather long review. Give the game a try! If anyone wants to play leave me a message.

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