Sproggiwood is a casual roguelike, where your character, the Cloghead, has to complete missions for his adorably moody boss, Sproggi. For me, a lot of the appeal of a roguelike is in the random possibilities. This is what worked for me in Dungelot and in Enchanted Cave 2. Each randomly-generated level could hold treasure OR certain death and the fun is in seeing what happens! Sproggiwood has the same ridiculous randomness, and cutely evil overlord Sproggi is the source of all that craziness.
Myths and fairy tales often involve a trickster character, someone who uses traps or disguises to pull pranks on unwitting characters. Sproggiwood turns the fairy tale meeting with this trickster character into a gameplay experience. The game opens with a talking sheep leading the player off to an exciting new land. But wait! The talking sheep is actually an evil Sproggi and the player is trapped in a dark Sproggiwood. But wait! Actually, Sproggi’s not evil and he’s not even such a bad guy, he just wants to make peace with the Mushroom Kingdom. But wait! The mushrooms aren’t fooled by Sproggi’s plans, so he decides to destroy them all. So many silly surprises in this game. Sproggiwood successfully brings the mischievous trickster to players, offering players all the surprising reversals of fortune and all the fooled frustration that genre implies.
Each adventure is a randomly generated grid of enemies, treasure and traps, with an exit leading to the next level, and then the next, and finally, to the boss battle. Your little Cloghead will need to battle his way through, looking for treasure and trying not to get clobbered by enemies. When a weapon or armor is found in an adventure, it can be used until the end of that adventure (or until you find a new item for that slot), and after the adventure, it can be found and purchased in the village shop. Some magical items add to the zaniness with fun — if not entirely beneficial — effects, like a random teleportation.
You’ll begin with a farmer, but as you complete missions, you’ll get new character classes like rogues, archers and vampires. The vampire was by far my favorite, both in adorable art and useful upgrades, but every character class has something sweet and funny to enjoy.
Do you like the beginning of games, before you’ve leveled up and you’re just a squishy target with no skills? Well, I hope so, since that’s what a lot of Sproggiwood is! Experience is reset back to zero at the beginning of each mission, and after experimenting to find the ideal build for each character class, restarting from zero every time becomes pretty repetitive. Roguelikes annoy me when they’re all about replaying the same content, and Sproggiwood can suffer from repeated content, becoming more like a chore than a game. The game is cute, with high production values and adorable characters, but I got pretty tired of them with all the replaying one has to do to advance in this game.
Completist gamers will note all the unlockable villagers and bonus to be earned by replaying levels. Replay it again with a new character! Replay all the levels with all the characters on all the difficulty levels! I was already starting to find more similarities than differences in my replays of the same randomly generated dungeons, so I wasn’t really motivated to switch characters and run it still more times.
In between dying and restarting in the adventures, players can relax in their village. Don’t worry, though, you won’t have to click to clear woods away before you can build improvements, and you won’t have to wait three hours for an upgrade to complete. Instead, you’ll have fun shopping for new weapons, armor and advancement upgrades here, and you’ll bring cute new villagers to live happily in your little corner of Sproggiwood. Players can also add decorations to their villages, another mechanic that is surprisingly pleasurable when it’s not connected to in-app purchases or appointment-style wait periods.
Overall, I enjoyed exploring Sproggiwood for all the reasons that roguelikes work, like the excitement of random encounters and the thrill of completing a difficult mission. Sproggi, my villagers, the enemies, and even the dangerous bosses were adorable. But I ultimately found the game a bit too repetitive to really love my Sproggiwood adventures.
Repetitive game elements aside, Sproggiwood offers up a very cute, very replayable, IAP-free, rogue-like adventure. Highly recommended.