I’ve been mainlining Streets of Rogue hard as is my wont, and I think I’m hitting the proverbial wall. I’ve talked before about games I love that I’ve quit playing because I reached a certain point where I just couldn’t get better at it. Nuclear Throne, Dead Cells, Enter the Gungeon, and Hollow Knight all fit into this category. Notice that three of the four are rogue-lites/likes/whatever the nomenclature may be, and that’s what Streets of Rogue is as well, though it crosses over into other genres as well.
I wrote about it last week, and I couldn’t stop gushing about it. It’s strange because when I first started playing, I wasn’t that into it. And yet, I couldn’t stop playing it. I’d die, and then I’d play ‘one more run’–which turned into six or seven other runs. I wasn’t into the game the way I was into, say, Nuclear Throne, but I kept pressing the Q button (to go back to Home Base before starting the game) every time I died.
I didn’t talk much about the things that frustrated me about the game, which I’ll do now. It’s part of the reason I think I’m nearing the end of my time with Streets of Rogue, so I might as well expand on it. I did mention the lack of tutorial, but that’s minor in the grand scheme of things. Another thing that isn’t huge but is more irritating is that the different playable characters are so varied in terms of playability. Of course that depends on style, but for me, the Soldier and the Cop are by far the OP characters. Then, there are the ones that are middling such as the Doctor and the Vampire, and then there are the ones that I just suck at such as the Hacker and the Bartender. I’ve beaten the game with the Soldier*, the Supersoldier, and the Supercop. I reached the Mayor Village with the Cop and killed him, but after running around the level and making a beeline to pick up the hat, a Supercop killed me. That was literally the last second I could be killed before winning the game, which really sucked.
In thinking more about the different characters, I get more irritated because I cannot grasp the playstyles of several of them. I tried the Investment Banker last night, and I quite liked her. I played her because I wanted to unlock a mutator that could only be guaranteed to proc by going into debt with her so the Assassins show up. You need to kill an Assassin to unlock one of the mutators, and I had seven or eight of them waylaying me as the Investment Banker. I didn’t get her at first because her Big Quest (something each character has to do throughout the game, and it’s thematically appropriate for each character) is to make sure she doesn’t go into withdrawal, which meant mainlining drugs all the time. Which costs money. She starts with loads of money, but it goes quickly. What I didn’t realize is that many of the pills also count as being hopped up, but they’re not cheap, either. Now that I have a better handle on her, she’s more fun to play. And, now I understand the trait ‘Status Effects Last Longer’ and why I would choose it.
My biggest problem with the game, though, is that the ramp up is gentle, gentle, gentle, and then BAM! Uptown (Stage 5) comes around, and it’s all over. If I don’t have all the weapons and all the FUD (plus other healing items) and all the best traits for my character (the Soldier or the Cop. I haven’t made it that far with anyone else), then I’m fucked. There are Supercops with machine guns everywhere along with Robo-cops that chase you all over the map. It’s like the Castle in Dead Cells in that when I reach that stage, I internally sigh and prepare to die forthwith.
That’s the kiss of death in a game for me. When there is a stage that makes me sigh when I reach it, then it’s over even if I don’t know it yet. If I have to rely on RNG and external factors in order to get through a stage, then the game is too rich for my blood. I did an OP run last night with the Soldier and the two aforementioned mutators, and I died on Uptown 1 to the goddamn Supercops. Then it froze and wouldn’t let me continue (starting again on the floor) until I exited out and started over, and I died three times in quick succession. It’s a fine line between pleasantly chaotic and flat-out panic-inducing, and SoR crosses the line for me in Uptown.
It makes me sad as it always does when I have to quit a game I love. Dead Cells just had an update in which they recognized that it’s disheartening to have an hour-long run, reach the Castle, then die in ten seconds to The Hand of the King. So, they added mini-versions of the bosses in the level before the boss with one or two of the more difficult traits of the boss. Which fine and dandy, but I’m skeptical it will actually mitigate my frustrations with The Hand of the King. I’m reinstalling Dead Cells, so we’ll see if it goes any better this time around.
I’m also reinstalling Binding of Isaac: Rebirth/Afterbirth/Afterbirth+ because why the fuck not? The ‘final’ DLC is coming out soon, and I might as well get ready for it. I put final in quotes because I am skeptical that it’ll actually be the final DLC. I have an embarrassing amount of time put into this game–more than all the FromSoft games combined to put it in context–and I don’t get embarrassed by my pop culture consumption on the regular.
I’ve reinstalled Dark Souls III as well because it’s my comfort game. For whatever unfathomable reason, this game is not cloud synced which means I’ll have to start a new game. Oh, the horrors! I’ve been all up in Streets of Rogue, though, and it’ll be interesting to go back to DS III.
Am I going to quit playing SoR? Not yet, but I can feel it’s coming soon. I ain’t mad because I’ve gotten many enjoyable hours out of it; I just wish I were better at the game. Oh! Also, fuck the Cannibals. Seriously. They can go straight to hell.
*With two OP mutators.