Developed by Matt Dabrowski Published by tinyBuild Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (Also available on Steam,Xbox One and Switch)
Streets of Rogue had an interesting pitch that caught my attention. It’s a twin stick shooter with randomly generated levels with a plethora of characters to play with different abilities and tools. All of this is tied together with a wacky sense of humor and a fresh coat of HD pixel art. Sadly, despite everything this rogue like shooter has to offer, the game never really quite got its hook in me and found my way to nowhere fairly quickly. I’ll elaborate a bit further.
Streets of Rogue starts out strong. It’s pixel graphic art style moves along at a smooth clip. You’re greeted with a tutorial where the guide literally explodes because you make it past the first couple of steps. The absurd internet humor is actually pretty well done and I definitely had some chuckling out loud moments. I immediately appreciated how responsive the controls are and that even when there’s a lot going on the frame rate stays very consistent. The aforementioned variety in character classes is also appreciated as I can try a run with either more equipment and perks or less if I want more of a challenge. The sound effects are crunchy and the music has a good vibe to it. Despite the random elements, it feels like you’re in a living environment.
So why didn’t I enjoy it beyond that? It’s as if I’m able to connect on a technical level but the soul just doesn’t grab me. I just didn’t have fun. It’s a strange disconnect and I am a little saddened by it. The gameplay is solid enough and the goal is clearly defined. The humor caught my funny bone a few times so I just don’t know why I didn’t enjoy it more.
The loop of the game play is pretty easy to digest: choose a class that has certain tools and skills available to them. Go through a series of randomly generated levels, survive as long as you can, and use the resources you bring back when you die. With those resources you can upgrade your base stats and make your next run potentially easier. Get to the end and kill the big bad evil mayor. Simple. But somewhere along the way I just wasn’t engaged. I am not of the belief that it’s a difficulty issue. If you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings you can easily get stomped on since and enemies can be ruthless and pursue you for a long time.
You also have to manage your resources or you will find yourself out of ammo, especially as most melee weapons have a durability meter that you must consider with their usage. I snuck around as much as possible to avoid using my guns and make a surplus, but then things like traps and other environmental hazards are always a threat as well.
I’m not really sure why Streets of Rogue didn’t click with me. The elements of a well made game are all here, it looks good, plays well and has thought put into it. I will ponder this for a while, but I can at least say give Streets of Rogue a try. Maybe it will connect with you on a better level than it did with me. The gameplay is smooth enough and maybe the humor will be right up your alley.