The roguelike genre is becoming increasingly popular these days. Supergiant's Hades recently became the gold standard of what the genre can offer, but it's punishing difficulty could be regarded as a turn-off to some. Heliocentric Studios' Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos offers a great alternative, as it is a simple RPG with roguelite mechanics weaved into it, across a pixelated openworld.
Rogue Heroes is an RPG adventure game with roguelite elements that sees you take up the role of a hero to complete various tasks across an open world. With plenty of dangerous dungeons and different types of monsters to slay, the game is designed with a gorgeous pixel art style that brings to life this simple yet engaging title. Rogue Heroes can also be played in multiplayer co-op with up to three more friends, making for a great easy to adapt to roguelite experience.
While Rogue Heroes is an RPG, the mechanics and gameplay are very simple to grasp. The control scheme is basic - rooted around a hack 'n slash style design - yet can be expanded on as you further unlock new classes with unique abilities. At the same time, you can just waddle into a dungeon swinging your sword wildly, relying solely on your own ability to evade and punish foes. Nothing is stopping you and considering each class is centralised around the same sword melee combat, you get quite familiar with the skill set very quickly.
Aside from sword combat, you can block with a shield, use different types of evading movement (tied to different classes), wield equipment found in dungeons that have special uses (i.e. a grappling hook to cross gaps), and even throw bombs for an added bit of explosive fun. Rogue Heroes really is a simple game when you look at it mechanically, but it's bolstered by a broad variety of enemies, exploration opportunities and RPG options.
In terms of the enemies, Rogue Heroes has a deep offering for you to face; from simple rats to armed skeletons, to balls of slime, and even rampaging bulls. There really is a lot to deal with and that's not even covering the Titans of Tasos bosses that are the biggest threats to the land. The majority of foes will be found in dungeons, where if they kill you, you are transported back to the overworld to spend the hard-earned Gems (the main currency for the game) you collected. That's the biggest catch with this game, as when you enter a dungeon, you will be forced to give up any Gems you have saved up, but you won't lose anything else. So, long story short, make sure to spend any Gems you have before diving into a dungeon.
To keep the gameplay fresh, there are eight classes to play as. You start as the Warrior, which is basically an all-rounder type with equal levels of health, stamina and mana, but you can also unlock the Mage, Hunter, Pirate, and many more. Each have their own appearance and attribute levels that defines them (i.e. Mage's have high mana but low stamina), alongside a unique evade move - the Mage can blink short distances to dodge incoming threats. Classes will take a little effort to unlock - requiring a specific item found by progressing the story - but they can be switched out pretty freely when unlocked, all you have to do is visit the wardrobe in your house.
Aside from just slaying monsters, unlocking classes and gathering Gems, you are also responsible for rebuilding the town of Tasos. At the beginning of the game, the town is in a complete wreck, with nothing but your own home and the carpenter's building standing. Your duty is to earn Gems to be able to build new houses and municipal buildings so that the townsfolk return, which in turn will unlock new quests and upgrades for you to acquire. For example, you will not be able to increase your own health without having the Intori Clinic first constructed.
The RPG mechanics that allow you to bolster your character really are deep. There are several vendors that each offer upgrade trees to enhance your damage or survivability at the cost of Gems. I will say that the upgrading can feel a little exhausting and poorly weighted - especially in the early game portion - as you earn fewer Gems and the upgrades seem overpriced. But, as the game progresses you'll be able to splash out and easily buy more allowing your character to become strong enough to tackle the Titans.
In terms of the exploration aspect of the title, the dungeons each offer several floors and a variety of rooms to venture through, and come in a procedurally-generated pattern each time you enter one. The openworld has different regions that each look unique and offer new challenges, but the game isn't massive and you can wander around everything it offers in a relatively short time span. Granted, there are a whole bunch of activities to keep you busy while you do so, many of which will see you returning to previous areas to acquire some gear to complete a quest, for example.
While Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is very much an indie RPG at its core, there is a lot for you to get lost in. The title's storyline is really a by-product to its replayable roguelite dungeon encounters that encourage you to keep repeating them so you can earn Gems and become stronger, or unlock new classes and buildings. The world is charming, packed with character, looks fantastic and brings a deep variety of quests and opportunities to complete. If you are a fan of roguelites or RPGs, Rogue Heroes is a great mini-adventure that once again shows the genre doesn't need to be relentlessly challenging to be immensely fun.
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