16th Jul2019

‘Streets of Rogue’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts

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A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a fellow local co-op loving friend, lamenting the lack of multiplayer games that have a more ‘progress-based’ bent as opposed to pure blasts of arcade action such as (the very good) Iron Crypticle and the like.

As if in answer to our prayers, Streets of Rogue is being released after spending over five years in development which includes two years in early access on Steam which have clearly been very well-spent. Don’t let the eyeball-roll inducing name fool you; this could be the game you’ve been waiting for.

Often when a single-person development team name-checks ‘AAA’ games like Deus Ex in the description , combined with a name like Streets of Rogue which makes it sound like a procedurally-generated knock-off of SEGA’s classic brawling series, (which the game most definitely isn’t) alarm bells usually start ringing. In this particular case, though, those comparisons are well-deserved. The visuals may be Terraria-like and pixelated but my word, the depth and variety on offer as well as how the multiplayer completely brings the game to life makes my trousers fly off into the night, never to be seen again.

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A corrupt mayor has taken over the city and ‘The Resistance’ has come together to…well, ‘resist’ the hell out of him. Playable with up to four players, Streets of Rogue lets you choose from a selection of character classes which all play quite differently not just due to their levels of speed, health, melee and ranged attacks but their starting equipment and personal goals on each stage. For example, I chose the soldier, who has to blow up every generator on the level whilst my friend chose a gangster (Crepe) and had to eliminate members of the rival gang (Blahds) as well as having universal goals such as freeing slaves, ‘neutralising’ certain civilians and stealing various items.

The game world is quite compact and lightly procedurally-generated in a way that feels intrinsic to the design without feeling like a time-saver for the developer. Each screen has a bank which can be robbed, bins and homes which can be rifled through as well as bars, shops, gang hang-outs, drug dens and science facilities. Your game will massively alter depending on the character you choose, there are also around twenty to unlock and the possibility to design your own from scratch. This whole section of the game really reminded me of Death Road to Canada, one of my favourite games in recent times (that was awesome with two players but my word it yearned for four!).

A normal run will see you firstly gathering info on the setup of the missions and getting together the tools you’ll need. Maybe a window-cutter to circumvent a security system or some cash to bribe a cop or bouncer to let you into a certain building…perhaps you can blow a hole through the wall and make a smash and grab? It’s up to you. The game also features random factors which again add variety (and difficulty) to the stages, sometimes a gang war will break out, assassins will be on the prowl, thieves will steal from you or, possibly worst of all…. A rocket-launcher wielding robot will mercilessly hunt you through the level.

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I popped Streets of Rogue on for a few minutes to try it out and ended up spending five hours playing it and jumped straight back on the next day, it’s wonderfully addictive. The ‘die and start again, but get a bit further this time’ style of play feels immensely rewarding due to the ‘chicken nuggets’ you collect from levelling up and completing missions which can be spent on random perks which can really help out as well as ramping up the variation in game play offered by simply selecting another character and working through their goals. Yes, the firefighter is robust but you’ll need to deal with randomly appearing arsonists throughout the city and put out fires. The gorilla is pure brute strength…but he won’t be able to stop himself killing any scientists that happen across him, taking control away from the player, the cannibal can only eat human flesh to heal etc. This really is a game that is genetically designed for me.

As I threw a packet of cigarettes into an air-vent to poison the air-con, emptying the building so I could freely rob the bank before assisting my friend by deciding whether I should bring him back to life by giving him half my health or just sell off all his hard-earned his belongings to pay the 60 gold fee, a rare feeling settled upon me… I was truly in gaming heaven.

Great fun in single player but life-changing in local co-op, Streets of Rogue is a game that I know I will be playing for months to come, like Broforce and Death Road to Canada before it, it reeks of charm, rock solid design and playability, an unobtrusive soundtrack that perfectly captures the mood and humorous writing in the item descriptions and dialogue it culminates in a recipe that will probably make it a contender for a lot of people’s Game of the Year list…it’s definitely on mine.

Right, I’m off to clean up the slums with a vampire.

Streets of Rogue is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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