Super Robot Mario Galaxy!
Think back to Super Mario Galaxy. Remember? The Wii game that many consider to be one of the best 3D platformers of the past decade. Now try to recall the really hard levels that only experts could finish, remove the gravity manipulation and make those levels randomly generated. This is Rogue Singularity in a nutshell.
You are a robot travelling through a series of constantly demanding stages because the game says so. If you’re looking for plot, you’re in the wrong place and might as well give up now! But if you’re looking for a hard as hell platformer you may be in luck. Each stage is fairly short, consisting of getting to the exit without falling to your death. Or being electrocuted, blown up, sliced up, or burnt to death. Literally everything will destroy you in this game, and one hit will spell death and a trip back to the start of the stage. Those 5 lives you begin with will be gone in a matter of minutes.
Victory comes down to your ability to avoid obstacles quickly and plan your path through them flawlessly. Movement, jumping, rolling and crawling are your only means of survival along with your ability to hang onto walls indefinitely and an skill you select at the beginning of each stage. These range from the fantastic shield that will protect you from a single hit (but only was per game), to the fireworks that look pretty. Your choice of ability will likely tie into how you find yourself playing. I wanted to make use of the deployable respawn point that is meant to bring you back to life where it is placed rather than back at the beginning, but for some reason it didn’t seem to do that. Perhaps I misunderstood how to use it, or it could be bugged right now (this is still in Early Access after all).
With “Rogue” in the title, it should be fairly obvious that this has Rogue elements. Once your 5 lives are gone, it’s game over and your progress is lost (although you can pick up extra lives through precarious platforming sections as you go). There are also randomly generated levels meaning each game should be different each time. I found that this meant the difficulty varied wildly from run to run, with some making it exceptionally difficult to even progress past the first stage. I appreciate that random level creation can have that element, but some sort of scaling may make the game more accessible in the early stages. This level of difficulty did mean that some of my games were over in a matter of minutes. In keeping with modern Rogue-lites, there is currency you can collect during your games, but they only allow you to access cosmetic upgrades for your robot, rather than power-ups. This is fine, and there are a variety of different looks and colours for each part of your droid. I feel that a few more things to do with your hard earned coin, beyond simply buying a random body part, would be a nice feature to keep the game fresh.
Every 3 levels leads to a change in environment to keep the game fresh. They introduce new obstacles and enemy types, as well as new music. I did enjoy the music, but I found that it cut out from time to time. I’m currently putting this down to an Early Access bug that will hopefully be ironed out in time. The graphics are fine, nothing hugely special but they get the job done. Occasionally the environment can get in the way of the action which can make avoiding some obstacles very difficult. This is likely a problem with the random placement of elements within a level that can hopefully be ironed out in time. As it stands it was irritating, but not all that regular in my experience.
It controls well enough, but I feel a controller is near on essential. I attempted to play with keyboard and mouse and found it very hard to control my robot. Once a switched to a controller I found the experience much more enjoyable. You have a lot of control over your character when he’s in the air (including a double jump) which took a bit of getting used to.
There are Daily Challenges included in the game along with Leaderboards. The Daily Challenge mode is an interesting addition in a game that is about randomly generated levels, featuring a set sequence of levels to test your skills on. They are still very challenging however and will require a great deal of skill to conquer.
On the whole, the game is enjoyable in short bursts, which is rather nice when you need something quick. I feel that it lacks polish right now (which is understandable in Early Access), with some features feeling somewhat incomplete or not working as they should be. I hope that Considerable Content manage to complete this in the way they intend to, as a challenging 3D platformer on PC could do well. Take a look on Steam and see if your space Mario can do better than mine. I doubt you’ll do worse that I do.