Archison’s Random Adventure Roguelike is in active development. I say this to place a counter-argument shield in front of myself. Keep in mind that the game is selling for–what I assume is–full price despite the apparent beta state of the project. Whether or not that trips your ethical barometer depends on who you are, but I’m not a big fan of the practice to say the least.
Roguelikes, for those unaware, comprise a sort of adjacent genre normally coupled with RPGs. The most notable feature is the generation of the game’s content, difficulty, and even lore; via code, rather than by hand. Parallel to that, challenge is built through unseen obstacles, ambiguous items and potions, and most importantly the implementation of permanent death. The advantage to this method, especially for indie developers, is that random elements can implement interesting environments and scenarios without taxing a basement programmer’s precious time and resources that they would otherwise have to spend arduously detailing the levels. In addition, players get a varied and unpredictable experience.
Because of technical limitations or for stylistic reasons, many original roguelikes were text-based, such as NetHack, Moria, or the genre’s eponymous mother; Rogue. Today, a lack of such limitations leaves the conclusion that Random Adventure Roguelike is some kind of homage to the classics. Only problem is that RAR is emulating things that such classics weren’t even shouldered with, such as a movement view the size of a Chex square. It overshoots an attempted vintage motif, confusingly combines it with Smartphone sheen, and ends up reminding the player of no title in particular.
I’ll admit the UI is efficient and easy to learn, but that just blows more smoke onto the stage. The classic roguelikes had awful, unintuitive controls, and one would expect a love letter to those pioneers to share such trappings. As it stands, RAR is pulled halfway between a minimalist (read; eyestrain-inducing) layout and one marred with the tech limits of decades passed. Paradoxically, having a good interface makes the game worse by harming the intentions of the graphics.
There’s no dry wit or flavor text to spice up interactions: Just a glut of hyper-generic fantasy enemies (oozes, demons, etc.), plinking away your health with little engagement or strategy to be had, and with no method of expediting the frankly bland and repetitive core gameplay. You tap a direction, fight a monster with a series of mindless taps, get your loot, sell it, rinse, repeat. Crafting somewhat breaks up the monotony, but is so cumbersome that there’s little incentive not to just buy stuff from the store, as money isn’t exactly at a premium.
No major direction is given to you at the start of the game, even one as simple as “descend the dungeon.” Sure, you’ll get the occasional mission to slay some burdensome monster, but it is never more difficult than fighting any other monster you’d encounter elsewhere. Without something spurring you to an end, you’re left with the almost non-objective of exploration. This can be fun in a title like Minecraft or Proteus, with genuinely pretty scenery to enjoy, but here you are looking at a stamp-sized glint of your travels, represented by a dab of letters. I had a hard time even telling it was a roguelike at first, since the content it generates is always equally derivative and bare-bones.
Do yourself a favor: Skip this game and get NetHack. It’s a free android RPG roguelike.
Not at all.
Boring and derivative text-based roguelike.