In our Rogue Spirit Early Access Review we will take a look at this visually striking rogue-lite game, and take you through mystical lands plagued by demons and strife where you take control of a ghostly, fallen prince. As you carve your way through waves of enemies, you will piece together the tale of the calamity that befell the world, but for starters, you’ll slay hordes of monsters and humans alike.
You start off in ghost form, and being unable to interact with the real world is no good for anyone, so some helpful monks teach you how to use your powers of possession.
After you inhabit the enemy presented before you, you’re let loose upon the world. Controls are easy to grasp and use. At your disposal, you have a light and heavy attack, dodge, and supplementary skills. Each enemy you possess has a stat corresponding to their health, light and heavy attack. If you’d like to use an enemy with a larger health pool instead of a stronger light attack, you can do so after pretty much every encounter. The rogue-lite flavor of the game lends itself well to this format as you can find a wide variety of different enemy spreads on each run.
The tutorial teaches you about basic combat and how you can charge your light attack for a variation move. All characters have this simple-to-use skillset, and it’s up to you to mix and match it according to the situation. Some heavy attacks have an area of effect quality, while others may disrupt the opponent’s combat flow. Inhibiting different foes is paramount to dealing with some situations, and this is where the game comes into its own.
Taking control of enemy bodies isn’t the only main draw of the game, however. Stealth is also heavily emphasized. Your ghost form allows you not only to search for hidden treasures but also to position yourself in the best way possible before the start of any battle.
Choosing when and against who to strike first will often determine how well your early-game goes. As mentioned above, some characters you can use are best suited for quick assassinations of single threats, while others lean more towards the crowd-control side of fights. The rogue-lite essence of the game also necessitates that you play according to the upgrades you receive through the levels.
The upgrade system works in a simple way. You find tall, stone monoliths and break them apart to bask in their randomized filling.
The blue stones give you mundane, normal choices for upgrades. Their better counterparts, the yellows, sometimes give you three yellow(better) choices, and sometimes they allow you a whopping five alternatives. Each stone is clearly marked with its corresponding color, so you can choose your path through each level pretty easily.
Looking for more rogue-lite goodness? Check out our review for Rogue Heroes.
Don’t fret about upgrade choices in your first couple of playthroughs. You’ll gain much more by switching characters and learning their fighting styles. Even though this is an early access review, the core mechanics of the playthroughs are already implemented. And in a lot of cases, you will have to play a specific character in certain encounters. This isn’t meant as a critique but rather to illustrate that some characters are overwhelmingly better at dealing with the milestone you’re trying to conquer.
For example, the first boss you encounter is a hard-hitting, fast-moving, club-swinging abomination. If you’re playing a bruiser-type character who doesn’t have a lot of stamina, you’re gonna have a tough time of it. But if the rogue-lite gods smile upon you and they give you an agile character, or better yet, a bow user, then you’ll breeze right through.
Final tip. Learn to parry. There’s no way around using that mechanic because a lot of the time, you will be surrounded, and your slowly regenerating stamina bar is woefully inadequate for you to dash around like a mad person.
The reliance on parrying might be off-putting to some. In other similar games, dodges are a primary way of evading and/or repositioning your character. Here, however, the dodge is just that, a way for you to evade. Veterans of games like Hollow Knight and Hades might have a hard time adjusting to the requirements of Rogue Spirit. That said, it isn’t all bad, however, but it might take you longer to get in the groove that the game requires.
Keeping with the Asian aesthetics that the developers have implemented, the musical ambiance of the game is a soft blend of stringed instruments and soothing flutes. NPC’s speak in a non-specific gibberish that has only hints of oriental sounds and words. Think Okami or Animal Crossing. Enemies have a few grunts and moans, which could get repetitive, but this could be subject to change.
This is where the game finds its footing and rises above your everyday, average rogue-lite. The scenery is gorgeous, and the textures on some of the objects defy what most would expect from an early access, indie title.
Even on older hardware, the game runs smoothly and looks extremely well in motion. The developers have not neglected the visual appeal needed to catch the eye of fans of the oversaturated rogue-lite catalog.
Before giving scores and further opinions, we’d like to remind you that this is an early access review of Rogue Spirit, and there could be dynamic changes to the game in the near future. But, as it stands, it is evident that the developers at Kids With Sticks have put their heart behind the project. With appealing visuals that do not hinder performance while playing, we believe that it would be to your benefit to support this creative team in their endeavor to create an enjoyable experience.
What did you think of our Rogue Spirit Early Access Review? Have you played the game yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Rogue Spirit. The key was provided by 505 Games.