Rogue Land isn’t a bad game. In fact, it’s the best rouguelite mobile game I’ve ever played. It’s certainly head and shoulders above the terribly named Shoot’em All I reviewed in January. And while it is not as unique a premise as Hybrid Warrior, it is overall superior. So why then am I giving Rouge Land the same score that those other, seemingly inferior games got? Simply put: missed potential. Rouge Land comes to us courtesy of Huuuge Games, with this being their first foray into the roguelite genre. Perhaps this is why Rogue Land takes very few risks when it comes to gameplay.
Inoffensive and Unassuming
If you’ve ever played a mobile roguelite, you know what to expect here. Players progress through each level mowing through hordes of enemies punctuated with occasional boss fights. Defeated enemies grant experience, gold and health refills. Leveling up nets players the choice of one of three random powerups to help them progress. After defeating a level, players receive gold, gems and unique tokens. Gold and gems are the game’s currency, which players can also buy with real money. These are used to upgrade weapons and spin a wheel to acquire a random weapon. Unique tokens are also used as crafting components to power up existing characters and gear or acquire new ones. Different characters and weapons offer slightly different playstyles as they have different abilities as they’re upgraded.
Missing the Point
Nothing about Rouge Land is novel, which is the crux of my issues with it. The game is well made and mechanically solid, although the movement feels somewhat floaty. The graphics are the standard mobile cel-shaded affair a la Clash of Clans but are done well. Enemies are relatively varied, although they tend to repeat as you progress to later areas. The level design is easily my favorite part of Rogue Land. It introduces slit paths, fun locations and inventive enemy placement that would feel at home in a proper RPG. And that is where I feel that this game was held back.
As a rougelite, Rouge Land is good, but it quickly becomes apparent that this could have been so much more. From the beginning the style gave me heavy Zelda meets A Hat in Time vibes. Its clever design, polished mechanics and RPG-lite elements only served to further these comparisons. Perhaps this is why I was so let down as the game progressed and Rouge Land revealed itself to be such a standard mobile roguelite. Yes it does some unique things; yes it is well made; and yes it does have a fun core gameplay loop. But ultimately I found myself bored after every few levels.
Adhering to the Norm
Rouge Land has the typical mobile game mechanic where you need to expend energy to play a level. When you run out you can either wait or pay to refill it. This plays into the “just one more run” mentality of these types of games. A great roguelite should make the player crave another run or level after the previous has just ended. Unfortunately, I found myself almost glad that I didn’t have to play anymore. Again this isn’t because the game is bad, but simply because we’ve played this exact game a million times before. I can’t help but feel that Rouge Land would’ve been much better served as a proper RPG than a roguelite.
Ultimately, no amount of endlessly waxing poetic and talking like a disappointed parent will change what this game is. Rogue Land is a well-made, polished but painfully standard mobile roguelite. If you are a fan of this style game, then pick it up. This is most likely the best you’ll have seen in a while. For what it’s worth, it already has an active community and regular events to keep players coming back. As for everyone else, you’ve already played this game before. It may be best to skip it and look elsewhere for something fresh.
Is it Hardcore?
Rogue Land is a competently made, relatively polished but painfully vanilla experience. Fans of the roguelite genre will find they’ve played some version of this game before, but may be excited by the community popping up around it.