Rogue Lords, a roguelike created by Leikir Studio and Cyanide Studio, distinguishes itself by enabling players to assume the role of the Devil and alter reality. In Rogue Lords, Van Helsing leads a troop of Demon Hunters in their mission to evict the Devil from the New World. Players can call monsters such as Dracula, the Headless Horseman, and Banshee to help them in their war against Van Helsing and recruit additional victims for the forces of darkness. Some have compared it to Slay the Spire, however the game’s balance issues make this comparison at best favourable.
Combat, Story, and Utility are the three primary activities in which Rogue Lords players can engage. Throughout each chapter, players engage in turn-based combat against common or elite adversaries. Similar to a traditional role-playing game, players will select a Disciple to play the part of an actor in a brief scene, and then choose the Disciple’s actions and responses in Story. Throughout the duration of the event, both characters and players will acquire new characteristics and abilities that will improve their fighting prowess and success in plot events. Lastly, utility events, such as a Styx fountain that restores the Devil’s Essence or removes bad traits from the Disciples, or the Grim Reaper, who grants abilities and items in exchange for collected Souls, may occur.
In comparison to other roguelikes, the notion of cheating in Rogue Lords stands apart. In Devil Mode, players can construct portals to avoid unfavourable conditions, alter the health and spirit points of their followers, transmit buffs and debuffs between themselves and their foes, and improve their odds of success in Story Events. All of these choices may only be purchased with the limited Demonic Essence. The run concludes when a player’s remaining essence reaches zero. To compensate for the fact that each run ends, players gain progress towards unlocking new, more potent Disciples. Cheats in roguelikes add new creativity to the genre by allowing players to experiment with and refine their tactics.
Due to the Devil’s expanding influence in the New World, it is inevitable that players will be touched by a variety of occurrences. These are known as “Terror Effects,” and they may provide the player benefits such as extra Demonic Essence or more skill and trait unlocks. Even as the strength of the devil grows, Humanity’s resistance is rising. When mankind attempt to defeat the Devil, they create hurdles that have a negative impact on a variety of plot events. The effect mechanics in Rogue Lords keep the game feeling fresh and motivate players to employ strategy on each run.
The Story Events in Rogue Lords are without a doubt the greatest parts of the game. Using traits and passive powers such as Terrifying, Stealth, Occultism, and Temptation, they challenge players to select the most suitable character for the task. It is enjoyable to make decisions and employ Devil Mode to overcome the odds. In Rogue Lords, players have a range of response options, each of which has a corresponding gain or cost. Rogue Lords offers the feel of a game where player choices matter, despite the reality that they have no direct impact on the plot.
Both the visual style and scenario layout of Rogue Lords are wonderfully done in the game’s 2D medium. The Devil and the Disciples feature an astonishing amount of fully-voiced, well-acted phrases throughout the game. Story Events are the only non-spoken aspects, because each event is so unique. The Devil will verbally taunt the player or the Disciples if they lose or if they pause to examine the map or plot their next move.
Rogue Lords suffers the most from boredom and imbalance. The repetitive environment forces players to squander time traversing large and sometimes labyrinthine map portions to reach the next event. In turn-based combat, there is a great deal of waiting, and the difficulty curve is poorly executed. On occasion, throughout the first two levels of the chapter, the Disciples are forced to participate in elite battle before acquiring the necessary skills and equipment to survive. This lack of clarity extends to other parts of battle as well, since it often catches players off guard when they confront many waves throughout a fight. In a challenging fight, the damage inflicted by a disciple’s abilities is frequently unexpected, making it impossible to rely on any of them. Unanticipated and unexplainable damage multipliers might swiftly terminate a seemingly hopeless conflict. A single opponent attack can drain all of the player’s Demonic Essence and finish his or her run, even if it appears that the player has everything under control. Due of the game’s unpredictability, it may be difficult to feel rewarded for overcoming Rogue Lords’ varied obstacles, since strategy appears to be less important than luck.
Due to the fear and hindrance effects, as well as the story and disciple traits, pursuing Rogue Lords is a unique experience. In its current form, Rogue Lords is significantly handicapped by a lack of cohesiveness and fighting and running repetition. When randomness seems to be stacked against the player, strategy is difficult, and restarting a book after an unexpected, impossible boss encounter can be disheartening. Rogue Lords, on the other hand, has a great deal of promise if it is modified appropriately.