I am starving, poisoned, traumatized and dying over and over in Rogue Islands.
The first word that comes to mind is tutorial. I really wish Rogue Islands had one. Why? Well imagine Doom meets Hungry Hungry Hippos. Oh, there is crafting too, which is essential to survival. Frantic is the best way to describe the gameplay of Rogue Islands and on my initial playthrough I hated this game. Then I played for two more hours and started getting the hang of it. Then another hour later, I was enjoying myself and finally the game clicked. Simply put, Rogue Islands doesn’t make the greatest first impression. She is pretty looking, but she has thorns, a carapace, and spits acid. Get to know her though, and she will show you a good time.
Rogue Islands is a first person procedural perma-death survival action game. It is currently in Early Access but is heading to release September 13th. You play a viciously hungry gnome wizard, who is out to save the world. When I say hungry, I mean eat something every two to three minutes or die type of hungry. While I will talk about the actions and spells, the first thing I wanna talk about is hunger in this game.
There are two ways to look at the hunger system, I figure. One is that it keeps you constantly moving and on the hunt. You can’t idle very much in this game despite the fact its graphics are rather pleasing to the eye. You stop and stare at the shiny trees and BAM a skeleton blasts you in the back. This is a good way to keep the player moving through the game. The second way to look at the system is that it’s downright annoying. I understand it’s a survival game but my god this gnome needs to eat! People who have played We Happy Few are going to be familiar with this. It always seem something is just wrong with the main character. Either he is poisoned which requires eating, traumatized which requires eating, or losing health from starving. It’s downright a pain sometimes and it distracts from enjoying the game at times.
The game itself outside of that is made very well. You start out with a basic spell and hunt through the procedural landscape for gems, food, accessories, and more to make yourself a force to be reckoned with. While this game does feature perma-death, this is more about long play sessions then dying and starting over and over. Unlocking spells is quite a bit of an achievement when you finally manage to do it. Combat is vicious as even lowly skeletons can and will kill you. Of course if you just have bad luck and can’t find anything all that useful the crafting system is there. You can take the most basic components and eventually build up to what you spell you want. Throw in some good fortune and its not hard to get things going rather quickly.
Overall the game is beautiful as well. While obviously sporting a Minecraft blocky aesthetic, its use of color is vibrant and the world generator makes a spectacular landscape. I never got tired of exploring through trees, mountains, and killing hordes of monsters. Everything just feels sharp and the spell animations are fantastic. Rogue Islands does more than enough to distinguish itself in the visuals department and you would be a fool to write it off for its theme.
Overall, I honestly think Rogue Islands has one problem, it just needs a tutorial. It needs to show you why eating two different foods at once is a good idea. It needs to show you why completing goals then prepping for the next area is a good idea. Why crafting nightmares is pivotal. Otherwise you are going to gnash your teeth and rage like hell and possibly jump to conclusions like I did. Which is a shame because this is a good game. You just have to be patient.
The future is bright though for Rogue Islands. There is quite a bit of development strength/clout behind this game. The road map for its future has already been made clear with DLC coming. Future updates hold more islands, holiday events, mutliplayer, Steam workshop support, and a sandbox mode. The developer makes it seem likes its upcoming launch date is only the beginning. Of course one has to wonder how much this might all cost in the end.
Lastly, outside of the game. The developer/publisher have claimed most of the profits will be going to a charity organization. (Source) – If this is all true then of course I have mad respect and admiration for the creators of this game. Outside the fact it made a fun and challenging game they are trying to make a change in the real world and help people. We need more of this of kind thing these days. I don’t want to get preachy, so I will leave it at that.
Rogue Islands is an interesting title for sure and I plan on spending more hours inside of the game. I am curious to see how Rogue Islands develops and how/what DLC is going to the bring to the table to elevate the game further. A future review might be in order. In the meantime I am off to go eat, again – and again.