The following article was written by my brother H4rry_H4ller and I have his written consent to publish the article here.
So many games and nothing to play
Me and Topjer didn’t stream for a while and we really wanted to play a game together on stream again. A game which we both didn’t know anything about and could explore together. A game that not only looked cool, but also would be fun to play, explore and finish.
We were searching far and wide to find a game that would fulfill these conditions. We climbed the highest mountains and dove through the deepest and darkest of seas just to find something…
Ok, that is more metaphorical speaking, because in reality we just sat in front of our screens and looked through Steam and there were some games that looked interesting, mainly Phasmaphobia and Sun Haven.
My brother was really interested to play Phasmaphobia, a Horror game that went viral and everybody and their grandma knows. I watched a lot of Lets Plays of this game and my hunger for this game was pretty much satiated and I had no interest in it.
I found Sun Haven, a Stardew Valley Harvest Moon-Like with a strong focus on RPG Elements and some Farming. Topjer agreed that it looked interesting, but with 21 € as an Price-Tag it was pretty expensive, especially for a game that is still in early access.
We put both these games to the side *wink* for now *wink*. Disheartened I was looking through Steam. I really wanted to stream something with my brother again. I remembered our first Stardew Valley stream together and a sad smile was forcing its way on my face, but before I could drown myself in nostalgia, I received a WhatsApp Message from my brother Topjer: »Do you know Rogue Heroes? Looks pretty cool.«
I checked Steam and I actually had it on my Wishlist already. Rogue Heroes is an Oldschool-Zelda-Like. So Pixelart with exploration, dungeoneering and collecting tools that help you explore more. So we didn’t hesitate and quickly bought the game (or more like Topjer bought two copies. One for him and one for me. Luckily it was on sale and only costs 13 € instead of 20 €) and we started playing the game and trying it out.
First look with pink glasses
Our first session was off stream, because we wanted to check if this game was Stream Material. We started playing and fell in love with the Artstyle instantly. (Lets hope that the rest is as good as the Artstyle) I thought to myself. Moving around, swinging our swords, cutting bushes and breaking pottery, yes it felt really like Links Awakening.
We looked around the map and see what we could explore and after defeating some slimes we arrived at the first dungeon. We were asked to give up all our riches, before we enter the Dungeon. We shrugged because we had none to begin with. We entered the dungeon and a thought was shooting through my head (Thats just like Rogue Legacy!).
We fought valiantly our way through the first floor and reached the second floor. We unlocked the Staircase to the First Floor, which allowed us to get back quicker to the second floor if we should die…
…and Mr Death didn’t need to wait to long for that to happen.
e went into the first second floor room and saw that the enemies had a bigger number over their heads. Enemies had a “level” that would show how much pain the enemy was able to dish out. The pain we endured was to much for our little main characters and we quickly were disposed of.
We met Mister Death and he told us that he didn’t want us! The nerve! He would be honored to have us! But whatever, we were revived and could start to build new Buildings for our village, with the gems we collected in the Dungeon. Which reminded us of Heroes of Hammerwatch with all that Village Building.
With the Buildings we could Upgrade our Stats. The Blacksmith upgrades our swords, so we can do more damage. The Clinic increases our max Health and Mana, so we could endure more pain and use more items. The Tool Shed can upgrade our tools, so we can do more damage with our tools. This felt overwhelming. We went with some extra damage and went back to the dungeon.
After our off stream session we decided to play this game on stream and it was hella fun! We continued to play it on stream and on Monday 26th of July we (rather surprisingly) finished it. Before that, on friday the 23th of July, I wanted to stream again with Topjer, but he didn’t have the time. I was a bit sad, but I asked him: »You mind if I stream Rogue Heroes by myself and work on 100 % it?« He said that he didn’t mind and so I did something, I may not should have done…
Abandon hope, all ye who enter
23th of July 2021, 8 PM CET I started my stream. I looked at the Steam Achievements and there are two achievements that less than 1 % of all players ever got. 0,5 % of all players got the achievement “Feel the power” which require you to collect all 100 Power Spheres in the game.
I was confused. (Why do so little players have this achievement?) I asked myself. I shrugged it off and began my Journey into insanity. In the beginning everything was OK. Before I started collecting the power spheres I wanted to collect the final tools that I am missing: Gloves and a watering can.
To get the Watering can you need the gloves and so I made my way to get the gloves. I bombed some statues away that were blocking my way and before I knew it, I had the gloves. The watering can was in a barn which door was stuck. It needed a little whack, that only this glove could deliver… Even though I had a hammer, that could also give out some good whacks but whatever.
With that I could finally use the farm. I dug some holes, placed some seeds and watered them, now we playing the waiting game. While I was waiting for my crops to grow I started my search for all 100 power spheres. I already had like 30 or 40 of them so I actually only needed to find around 70 or so.
I started my search in the swamp, the second area of the game, because I intended to finish a quest that I had there: “Collect 20 Red Mushrooms” and I thought that in my schedule of finding all power spheres I still had much room. Spoilers: I never finished the quest.
I quickly realized a major flaw in the system, because you couldn’t mark anything on the map and there is no markings on the map that could show which power spheres I already collected. So I had no other choice than checking every power sphere location. I used a guide to help me with that.
So there I was moving through the swamp and you need to know, that you need the Frog Flute to summon a frog to move around the mud or else you drown in it and getting into the frog (you jump into the mouth of the frog) is really buggy. 2 out of 3 times the character misses the jump or just teleports outside the mouth, which meant I needed to use the frog flute and hear the short jingle that plays multiple times, but I didn’t mind that. The stream was still at the beginning and my sanity was still unscathed.
I moved my way through the swamp, finding locations that I hadn’t explored yet, opening shortcuts and just exploring the whole area. Some power sphere location were hard to reach but nothing to mind boggling was in my way. Area 2 was definitely the easiest out of the 4 Areas to get all power spheres.
With the swamp completed I moved towards Area 3: The Volcano Area and here I would find something out, that would disappoint me a bit. Power Spheres can be found in 1 out of 3 places:
- They float in the air
- They are in a chest
- They are buried underground and the spot is marked with an X
And there is a bug that prevents you from digging in the places with the X. This bug is present in Area 3 and Area 4. Me and Topjer already found this bug in our streams, but thought that you just need another item or maybe a fully upgraded shovel to dig in these places. But no, its a bug and because of that bug, it is impossible to get all 100 power spheres.
I was devastated and a bit disappointed, because the developer knows about this problem, but they didn’t do anything about it…
…or so I thought.
My sadness that it was impossible to get all 100 powers spheres faded quickly and was replaced by confusion, when I asked myself (If it is impossible, how did 0,5 % of players manage to get this achievement and thus all 100 power spheres? Did they cheat? Or is there another way?)
I searched the internet for an solution and found one incredibly fast. The solution was so simple and yet irritating. If you go into the properties of the game you can change the version of the game under the “Betas” tap and there is one Version called “community_experimental”.
In this version it was possible to dig up all power spheres. I exhaled a sigh of relief but I was irritated. Why not fix this simple problem with a quick patch? Why would you hide something so important in such an unknown place? Because this was the first time for me to actually be able to do something in the beta tap. I knew it existed, but besides Lobotomy Corporation, I don’t know any other game that uses this tap and so it was not the first thing I would look at to find a solution to a problem I was having.
And with this, my pink glasses of unconditional love for this game, began to crack and crumble apart…
Losing my religion. Trying to keep up with you and I don’t know if I can do it
Without my pink glasses of love, I began to see things, things that were always there, that I choose to ignore, but just can’t anymore. The search for the power spheres broke me. In the end, I found every power sphere and now I am part of the 0,5 % of all players who have this achievement, but at what cost?
For one sphere, yes only one, I needed to upgrade the length of my grappling hook. Nowhere else in the game you need a longer grappling hook (Ok, there is another area, but you can get there even without the grappling hook) except in Area 4 The Mountains and the developers seem not to have expected someone to do this, because after using the grappling hook, that after some farming had all length upgrades, I reach a platform with two Ice-Skeleton-Bowmen. What was so special about them, you might ask? Only that I couldn’t hit them. Neither with my sword nor with any item, but at least they couldn’t hit me either.
But I finally got all power spheres in Area 4. Only one area left: Area 1 The Starting Area, but ’tis was no longer about finding all spheres, this was turning into a journey of discovery. The more I explored, the more I walked through this world, the more I played this game, the more I realized how empty it actually was.
A lot on the outside, hollow inside
There are a lot of systems in this game. You can build Houses, so people can move into your village. You can buy furniture and decorate your own house You can plant crops and sell them. You can kill monster with the book of beasts to fill your bestiary and gain mastery for them. You can fish. You can upgrade your Sword, Tools and self. There are 9 classes to play (8 in the main game and 1 DLC). There is a in-game Achievementsystem. But most of this is pointless and/or useless.
Besides the useful buildings that let you upgrade yourself, you can also build houses that NPCs can use to move into your village, but this doesn’t do anything. Now instead of standing around in the wilderness, the NPCs just stand around in their house and do nothing.
But what about your own house? You start the game with a small, decrepit Cottage and you can upgrade it to get more space. What do you do with all this space? Placing furniture naturally! You can buy furniture with gold coins and place them in your house. Sadly there is firstly not much furniture you can buy and secondly they have no use, except the fish tank, that allows you to display catched fish and the Stat-Desk which allows you to look at all your stats like playtime, killed enemy, etc. Which is in itself no problem, this seems to be a purely aesthetic, but you can only use this function in single player and thusly you cannot show it off to anybody, but I guess for people that like to have their own home and design it to their liking it could be something.
But what about the Farm? You can plant seed, harvest crops and sell them for gold coins. Cool, right? WRONG! Because the only thing you get out of farming are gold coins and they have no use whatsoever. Why? Because you already gather enough only through playing the game. The only things that are really worth buying are a Bottle and the thief class thread. Even if you would want to buy everything (mainly furniture) it would only costs you round about 600 to 1000 Gold Coins.
But what about the bestiary? You can add monster to the bestiary by defeating the enemies with ther book of beast. So you basically book them… *Library of Ruina flashbacks intensifies* and after you book them, every time you defeat the same enemy you gain mastery. When the mastery gauge is full you can book them again and “Master” them. What use does that have? After searching the Internet for a while, I found out that it either doubles the drops of the mastered monster or that it basically does nothing. Both scenarios are pretty useless. Besides some Tools you can get through exchanging them for monster material and some drops that can be turned into potions, most materials you can gather don’t have any use.
You know what else is useless? Fishing. Can’t sell the fish, can’t eat it to regain health. You can only use them in the Fishtank to show them off, but all fish look the same, except for a different color and/or pattern. The only exceptions are the 3 legendary fish, which can be caught in Area 2, 3 and 4, but besides being needed for a sidequest they have no use either, but the look at least pretty cool, I guess.
But the worst thing is the In-game Achievementsystem. You gain “Achievements” when you kill a certain amount of enemies or collect a certain amount of gems. These achievements are but a phantom in the system. What do I mean by that? You cannot see anywhere in the game what achievements you already collected and as a guy that likes Statistics a lot, this pisses me of, but in the end it’s just another pet peeve of mine.
It’s dangerous to go alone, take this
Lets get to the weapons and tools, shall we? There are actually a lot of items in the game: A bow, bombs, grappling hook, a magic wand, a shovel, etc. It’s an nice collection, sadly most, if not all of them, are obsolete or redundant.
If you want to play through this game the only thing you really need is a sword and shield in your hand…
…and the grappling hook, these 3 Items are essentially all you need to finish the game.
Because the game doesn’t encourage you to use other items, neither through enemies nor through puzzles. You can defeat most enemies with your sword, even the bosses. There is one enemy, yes you heard me right: ONE enemy, that you can’t defeat with your sword (immediately). You need either the bomb or the glove to break its hard shell…
…so you can kill it with you sword.
But still, this is somewhat of an highlight for the game: An enemy that you cannot kill by simply swinging your sword but it only appears in one dungeon, what a shame! There is another monster that can block your attacks and you can use your grappling hook to take their shield away. Pretty neat, huh? Sadly you can also just wait until it attacks and becomes vulnerable.
What about the game itself? How does the game challenge you to use different items? It does not, is the simple answer. If you need to hit a switch that is across a pit you can use the following items: the Bow, the magic wand or the grappling hook.
The Bow needs arrows and so has only a finite amount of uses until you need to find new arrows. Also: I’m just going to mention it here, but you should play this game with a keyboard. You can play through the game with controller and the optimization for it is also pretty good, but if you want to hit things with the bow or be able to catch fish more easily I recommend the keyboard and mouse.
The magic wand needs mana to be used and thus also only has a finite amount of uses until needing to recharge mana somehow. The wand itself is actually a cool tool, sadly it can’t out perfom the sword damage wise and only 3 out of the 5 runes/spells can be used for combat. The other two are…
…you guessed it: Useless.
One lets you change between day and night, which sounds cool on paper, but sadly there is nothing special happening at night. You also can’t use this spell to fast forward the game to make caring for your crops more easy, because the game doesn’t detect a day gone by if you use this spell two times in a row. The other one spell does… something call fourth a massive storm, that shall smite your puny foes for their foolish endeavor of trying to stop you. With this spell you become a god among man… Or at least I wish it would be like that, but in reality it just calls down some rain, which you can use to water your crops… which is cool I guess…
Lets get back to the switch and how to hit it. So bow and magic wand are a more suboptimal choice for this situation, so lets look at the best option, not only for this situation, for the the whole game:
The grappling hook.
The grappling hook is the most useful item in the game and I would dare to say the only useful item. You can use it to grapple onto things, to get over pits. You can activate far away switches and also attacks enemies from afar and the best thing: It has infinite uses! No ammo needed, no mana needed, its a dream!
But for attacking enemies there is no better thing than your sword, no tools are able to out damage your sword. If there where enemies that are maybe immune to your sword and/or physical attacks, you would have a reason to switch to the magic wand and to keep the magic wand upgraded. A weakness/resistance system would be really good and would motivate you to change up your game style to fit different enemies, but in the end, there is no such thing in the game right now…
Who am I going to be today?
Lets turn our attention to the wielder of said sword and tools: The Hero. The Hero has the ability to use different classes that have class abilities which gives them a unique play style… kinda. In the end you will still mostly use the sword, but with said class abilities and different attack, defense and speed values they can be used for different roles in a group settings.
Here I now have decided to put a ranking of all 8 classes (except the DLC Bomber Class). I’m going to Rank every Class on the overall Fun I had with playing them. Additionally I’m going to show how their would rank with their base stats (Attack, Defense, Speed) and I will give every Class a unique Award.
(This Ranking is heavily opinionated. Reader discretion is advised)
8. Place: Reaper
Attack Value: 11 (2nd Place)
Defense Value: 167 (2nd Place)
Speed Value: 7 (5th Place)
Award: *Spooky scary skeletons starts to play*
The Reaper has the same Stat lineup as the pirate and I really like the Pirate Class. So why did I rank Reaper dead last (No pun intended)? It just feels so slow playing Reaper.
The Reaper has the gimmick of “collecting the energy of his slain foes” but there is no visual representation to show the energy or the collection of it. So it was more confusing than fun for me.
The Class Ability allows the Reaper to turn into an invincible Skull to relocate by rolling around, but the rolling is just so slow for me personally.
7. Place: Hero
Attack Value: 8 (6th Place)
Defense Value: 100 (4th Place)
Speed Value: 8 (4th Place)
Award: Jack of all trades, master of none
The starting Class and with the Reaper one of the more boring classes to play. I really regret playing only this class, when I was streaming with my brother, but this is also the sad thing: In the end, this class is all you need to play through the game. You still doing more than enough damage to go through the whole game, even though Hero is the third weakest class.
His class ability allows him to rush forward dealing damage to enemies and cutting down bushes and pots. With no class gimmick you really have no reason to play this class if you have something like the thief or mage unlocked.
6. Place: Knight
Attack Value: 9 (5th Place)
Defense Value: 250 (1st Place)
Speed Value: 6 (8th Place)
Award: I’m going to tank that hit… WITH MY FACE!
The Tank Class. If you play alone this is the perfect Class for clearing dungeons. He takes less damage than the Hero Class and with an Attack Value of 9 does even more damage. The only problem, which makes him nearly unplayable for me, is his Speed Value. He is dead last in the Speed Rating with a Value of 6.
If you play this game with friends, he is supposed to be the tank (obviously!) but he is so slow, that all other party members have already cleared the room before the knight can get any kind of action.
His class Ability Leap is also nothing to write home about. He jumps into the air and groundpounds the ground like an certain Italian plumber, which is just such a missmatch. He should have had an ability like “Taunt” so you could aggro the enemies and be a real tank.
5. Place: Witch
Attack Value: 5 (7th Place)
Defense Value: 77 (5th Place)
Speed Value: 9 (1st Place)
Award: Kiki’s delivery Service
The support. With that stat lineup it’s obvious that the Witch should not take a front row seat in fights, but with her class abilities she not only can fly away on her broom from danger (and also over traps), she can also share the effect of potions to allies in an close radius.
Problem here is, that there are only 4 Bottles in the game, ergo you can only have 4 Potions in your inventory. Here also lies a pet-peeve of mine. All characters throw their potions in front of them when using them, making me think, that I could throw a Health potion in front of me to heal me dearest brother, but wrong that’s only possible with the witch. Why not give all classes the ability to share potion effects, but the witch can do it better?
4. Place: Ranger
Attack Value: 11 (2nd Place)
Defense Value: 77 (5th Place)
Speed Value: 9 (1st Place)
Award: I am an archer, but… *draws sword*
The Ranger was a more repulsive choice for me, because the bow had such an terrible hit detection (when you use an controller), but when I was testing the Ranger (with keyboard and mouse) I was surprised, how much fun it was running around and shooting my bow. The Ranger is quick on his feet, thanks to the high Speed Value and packs quite the punch with the second highest Attack Value. The low Defense Value is ok, because of the long distance nature of this class. As an class ability you got an dash, which allows you to widen the gap between you and the enemy or if you should run out of arrows, close the distance to wack your foe with your sword.
Here lies the problem of this class: It’s main Tool: The Bow. When you max out the bow, it can hold up to 50 arrows and it’s base damage is 145 which is 23 lower than the max base damage of the sword (168). You might think that 50 Arrows are a lot, but firstly you start with an max capacity of 10 and secondly even with 50 Arrows you run out way to quickly.
Which in the end brings you back to wacking stuff with your sword and with an Attack Value of 11 is the Ranger actually pretty good with that and even the class gimmick of giving enemies an 50 % chance of dropping an arrow doesn’t save you from running out.
3. Place: Pirate
Attack Value: 11 (2nd Place)
Defense Value: 167 (2nd Place)
Speed Value: 7 (5th Place)
Award: Are you feeling it now, Mr. Crabs?
Same Stat lineup as the Reaper, but why is the Pirate in the Top 3 and the Reaper dead last? To be honest it’s mostly because of the Character Design of the Pirate and it’s class ability. The Pirate has the most beautiful Design for me, with his hat, eye patch and ear rings. The Reaper just doesn’t have the same amount of details.
The Pirates Class Ability allows him to fly super fast with his parrot. The ability is super fast, has a low cool down and it’s just so much fun speeding through the world with this ability. The Pirate is definitely the perfect and most fun exploration Class.
Attack Value: 12 (1st Place)
Defense Value: 64 (8th Place)
Speed Value: 9 (1st Place)
The Thief was actually 1st Place, before I rewrote this Ranking. Why did I switched second and first Place? Because the new First Place is something special, but more about that later. Why is Thief second Place? Simple. It’s because of his Attack and Speed Value. One of the quickest classes and the hardest hitting one. He fits the “Meta” (dare I say it) of this game perfectly.
What is the Meta? Hit the Enemies hard and fast. The Thief may have the lowest defense, but if everything is dead nothing can hurt you and with it’s class ability Fade can the Thief fade into the shadows, which makes him undetectable, sneak up on enemies and deliver a guaranteed critical hit.
1. Place: Mage
Attack Value: 4 (8th Place)
Defense Value: 77 (5th Place)
Speed Value: 9 (1st Place)
Award: Perfectly Balanced. As all things should be
So Mage is first Place? May be a little surprise, if you think about the “Meta” I was talking about earlier and the lowest Attack Value on this Class, but what I realized is, that this class has something that is missing a lot in this game: Balancing.
With this low Attack Value can the sword not out-damage the main Tool of this class: The Magic Wand. The Mage has a lot of class gimmicks to make the Wand more viable. 50 % extra Wand
damage, 25 % less Mana cost for Spells, killing an enemy restores 10 % of your max mana and when you cast an offensive spell (Fireball, Icebolt or Magic Missile) you burst fire them, which means you cast them multiple times with one cast and with the cost of one cast. The Mage was build perfectly around using the Magic Wand and I honestly wished that the ranger would have a gimmick like that, too.
This class is not the class that can do the most damage. It is maybe even the class that does the least damage, because even when you have the wand maxed out it does around 50 to 120 damage per spell and around 150 to 300 damage per burst fire.
And through the gimmick of the class and the possibility of gaining an upgrade that restores Mana with every kill you also never run out of spells to cast. Not like the Ranger that has just a 50/50 Chance to gain 1 Arrow, the Mage gets definitely at least 10 % of her Mana back and with the Mana cost reduction upgrades of the Wand (and again the class gimmick) combined (which basically reduces the mana cost of the spells to 1 or 2) you can infinitely cast spells.
With this perfect synergy that this class has with it’s intended tool, makes me hopeful that maybe in the future there could be a rework of the classes and every class could be that fun to play with.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of this game, I will not fear loving it, for this game is a gem; It’s love and passion, they comfort me
So I had more than expected to say about this game and after all this you might think I hate this game or at least don’t like it, but you would be wrong. This game is a gem. A broken gem, that is missing a lot of it’s pieces.
It has a lovely Artstyle and the core gameplay is smooth and satisfying, some of the classes are really fun to play with, but as soon as you look deeper than what you can see at the surface, this whole cute and perfectly packaged game starts tearing apart at the seams.
This game is supposed to be a full game, but with all this threads that lead into nothingness it feels more like an early access game. You can play through this game from start to finish, but that doesn’t necessarily needs to mean that it’s a full game.
A full game should use all the resources it has to their fullest potential and as you maybe read out of this review, Rogue Heroes does not do that. I wouldn’t even be mad about that fact, if this game wouldn’t cost 20 €. Right now this game is nothing more than a 5 to 10 € game and if you ever see it this low on a sale I totally recommend it to you.
But for now there is just to much amiss here. Why have 2 Currencies and why have a “Give up all you’re riches” mechanic? In Rogue Legacy this mechanic made sense, because it was actually hard to collect enough gold to get an new Upgrade for your castle. It motivated you to get better, so you can get more gold, so you can get more and better upgrades.
In Rogue Heroes you always get enough gems to upgrade something, be it sword, health or mana, stamina or your tools. If you want to keep that mechanic, remove one currency and only use the other one. If you do it like that, you wouldn’t have the problem that your game has an redundant currency.
Remove Gold Coins and make gems a bit harder to get and suddenly farming could actually be useful. You could grow crops and sell them for gems, which you use to upgrade yourself. ‘Tis is nothing but an Idea of mine.
How about giving your achievement system an purpose by giving out small permanent stat-boost every time you get an unlock a certain achievement, like raising your attack value for killing x amount of enemies? Again just an Idea.
I really love this game and hope that the developers don’t mess this up, but they already shown that they can do it with the core gameplay and also with the mage class. Only time can tell what will happen to this game, I will certainly keep an close I on it.
One more thing before I go: If you take the first word of the title Rogue Legacy and the first word of Heroes of Hammerwatch, what do you get? Rogue Heroes! What is there to make out of that? I have no idea…
Thank you for reading this way to long review. What are your opinions? You have any Ideas how to make this game even better? Let me know in the comments!