In my search for the One True Game, I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a game that while I know it’s not the One True Game, it’s pretty damn addictive. It’s called Streets of Rogue, and it’s made by one man, Matt Dabrowski. I repeat, it’s made by one man. That’s pretty incredible given how polished and in-depth the game is. In some ways. I’ll get to that in one minute. I was intrigued by the description of it as Nuclear Throne/Enter the Gungeon meets Deus Ex because I adore the former (especially NT) and did not gel with the latter. It’s a top-down twin-stick rogue-like (or maybe an actual rogue! Who knows these days?) city sim and a half-dozen other genres. I’m saying this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek because that’s the tone of the game in general. Very madcap and campy and a load of fun.
Let’s start at the beginning. You’re thrown into Home Base where you meet the Resistance Leader. He gives you a speech about the mayor and how terrible the latter is. The mayor’s so bad, he banned chicken nuggets after one negative incident with them, so chicken nuggets become the currency of the game. The graphics are pixelated and cute, which can be off-putting for some people, but I find it adorable. There is customization, but very rudimentary. A few different hairstyles and colors, but it makes a world of difference that I can make my cute little avatar a woman. And look vaguely Asian.
There are seven starting characters and nineteen characters you can unlock. That’s twenty-six characters in total. Each of them have special abilities and perks as well as negatives in some cases such as the Zombies and Shapeshifters. I will say that the tutorial is not great. You’re given the basics, but each character is not explained well. I’ve had to look at the wikis more often than I care to admit, which can be frustrating in the middle of a run. Oh! Each character has a Big Quest that you try to fulfill throughout the game. The Soldier, for example, has the Big Quest of disabling all the generators on each floor. Here’s the thing. In looking that up to make sure I got it right, I learned that by completing the Big Quest, you’re granted a Super Special Ability that you can use on a new run if you choose the Super Special Abilities mutator before the run. In this case, it’s free ammo reload at the Ammo Dispenser and the Loadout-O-Matic. I did not know this because the game does not tell you this.
It seems as if I’m beating the tutorial drum a lot lately, but it’s important. I understand that there are wikis and such, but one, they take time to be written, and they are not necessarily accurate. I also understand that for one dude, it’s easier to crowd-source to the community than to do it himself. I also blame FromSoft a bit for this or rather the rabid Souls fans because they have set the standard for a truly incisive community. Blame is not the right word, more like attribute it to. When I played Dark Souls III in real time (as opposed to several years later), it was really hard because the wikis were so sparse! Anyway, now that Streets of Rogue has been out for almost a month, the wikis are more fleshed out. I still can’t find all the answers to my questions, but 90% is better than 40%.
I quickly learned that there are two mutators (you can choose two in the beginning) that break the game. One is Continue? which allows me to continue the run from the start of the floor up to 3 times per game. The other is Infinite Ammo, which, as it’s name suggests, gives unlimited ammo for any gun I have. the Soldier starts with the machine gun with fifty ammo, and in the beginning, I used these two mutators with this character (who is one of the strongest). I got to the fourth level on my first run, and I felt guilty about it. Hey! I’m a Dark Souls fan who has beaten every boss solo. I’m used to feeling guilty about anything that makes a game easier, even if it’s in the game. I took off the mutators, vowing to play the game the ‘right’ way. You can see where this is going, right? I got frustrated after several more runs and put the mutators back on. I decided I was going to play as the Soldier with the two mutators until I beat the game, and then I would go back to playing the ‘right’ way. I’ll explain in a bit why I got frustrated, but let me say that not having to worry about ammo is huge, and I managed to beat the game with the Soldier and the two mutators the second time I reached the final stage–Mayor Village–and I could have done it the first time if I hadn’t misconstrued the situation. Still. It was pretty damn satisfying to accomplish it the second time around, and then I got to
put on the Mayor’s hat, go give a speech, and become the new dictator! Oh, the last isn’t stated, but I’m pretty sure that’s how my character would rule since she was pretty ruthless on her way up to the top.
Then, it was back to the beginning with a different character, starting with nothing and slowly building my way up again. The game is rogue-like in that the floors are RNG and the items you get each floor are as well. You can choose the traits you want as you level up out of a group of three (or more for certain characters) but only at the end of the floor, and it’s fun to build your character to a certain spec in a true RPG fashion. There are certain traits I take every time I see them. Some examples are G-P-Yesss that shows everything on the map because I love knowing where everything is, Bullet Breaker which makes your bullet break your enemies’ bullets, and Modern Warfarer which slowly regens your health up to 20 when you are below 20. If you have a character who starts with a trait such as Modern Warfarer (like the Soldier), you have a chance to choose Modern Warfarer+ which will slowly regen your health up to 40 when you are below 40. I will always take the items/traits that regen my health because that’s how I play games. I’m the type to waste an Estus Flask when I’m at three-quarters health because I’m nervous about being killed.
The basics of the game is that your character has a set of missions she has to do every floor. The missions are laid out on the map, which is extremely useful, and very colorful so you can easily spot each mission. That is in addition to the Big Quest, and you can find optional missions as well by seeing a large gold/yellow M over a character’s head. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the big, bright gold M meant an optional mission. In Googling the bright gold M, I found out it was only the shopkeepers and drug dealers who give the quests and only on the second floor of each area. Once you do the mission, the M turns green, and you can go turn in the quest to get your reward–usually five chicken nuggets.
I have a tendency to hoard chicken nuggets because they can’t be used in-game. You can buy traits, rewards, and loadouts at Home Base for chicken nuggets, but I usually just go the character select screen at the end of the game in order to start the next. It’s really funny that my in-game mood while playing is, “This is fun” but not extremely engrossed or engaged. However, I have a hard time stopping after one game or a half-dozen, and I have to make myself quit (and save) after, say the third floor of the Slums so I won’t play for hours on end. I mean, I still do, but it’s many less hours than I would play if I didn’t put restrictions on myself.
The basic layout of the game is 3 floors of the Slums, 3 floors of Industrial, 3 floors of the Park, 3 floors of Downtown, 3 floors of Uptown, and 1 floor of the Mayor Village. Every third floor has some sort of disaster, and I hate most of them with all my heart. Some are just annoying such as Shifting Status Effects in which your status changes constantly. Some are whatever such as Police Lockdown, and some actively piss me off such as Killer Robot and all the ones that have NPCs constantly killing each other–and you–such as War Zone. The last category is infuriating when I’m using a character who does not use guns, such as the Doctor because using, say, a knife against a machine gun is a fool’s errand. I guess it’s a way of making the final floor of each stage more difficult in part because there are no bosses in the game, but I really don’t like it.
Did I not mention there are no bosses? There are no bosses. It’s a novel idea, and, frankly, it’s refreshing. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good boss fight, obviously, It’s nice to have a game where that’s not the focus, though, and this is that game. It’s much more about figuring out how to do all your missions in an optimal way, and I’ll confess that my optimal way is to shoot/punch everyone/everything until they die. I’m not one for subterfuge, but I’m learning more by using the stealthier characters. I did a run as the Doctor in order to unlock the Assassin (had to do a floor without killing anyone and without being noticed), which was the last character I could unlock without finishing certain Big Quests. I’ve tried all the characters at least once, and there is a wild differentiation between powerful and weak characters. Of course, this is based on my own strengths and weaknesses, and I am cognizant of this. My favorite characters are the Soldier, the Cop, and I really like the Doctor for something different. Oh! And the Shapeshifter is VERY interesting in that she can hop into someone else’s body, has a third of the health, and goes back into her own body once the body she took over is dead. Going back to her own body takes a certain amount of health, but it’s always better to be in a different body because Shapeshifters are hated by everyone else. They are tiny and take 1.5 times the damage as standard-sized characters. They can also use toilets to travel across the city. On that tip–traveling the city–big ups to the dev for allowing fast travel by using the map except when you’re in danger, when something is undiscovered, and on the third floor of every stage because it’s too dangerous to fast travel during a disaster phase.
There is a lot more I can say about the game, which is a sign that I’m really into it. There are some things I don’t like such as how uneven in terms of power the characters, traits, and items are, but that’s part of being a rogue-like. I also don’t like some of the characterization such as the Blahds and the Crepes as gang members, but it’s relatively minor in the bigger scheme of things. The humor can be juvenile at times as shown by the trailer above (very bro-y in a way I don’t much care for), but overall, it’s a good time.
Veering wildly for a second, Ian told me that Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! has been announced, and I am stoked! The original is one of my favorite games of all time, and I had a blast with the sequel. This one is set during post-apocalyptic America with two gun-toting robots as you take the show on the road, staving off competing food trucks. I love it already, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
ETA: I forgot to mention there is multiplayer. I have not tried it yet so I can’t speak to it. There is also the option to customize a character, so I made mulan rogue, dressed in all black and shades. She starts with an axe and pyro abilities (or rather, fire-retardant abilities), so hell, yeah, she’s my girl!