>> Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos

Finished the main content on Switch around 14 hours

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is a The Legend of Zelda inspired from its pixel art style, top-down perspective, map grid, room puzzles, item progression and so on. Primarily, it is a rogue-lite featuring multiple classes, statistical progression, procedurally dungeons, town building, and multiplayer. While the game may be fine for what it is, it feels lacking in content, complexity and challenge to be valuable or meaningful.

>> Notes and Thoughts

Initially I had fun specially with multiplayer hijinks, my enjoyment and investment was ruined with many issues. Primarily, its core dungeon loop does not feel rewarding because of the bosses, combat, puzzles and difficulty.

As a dungeon crawler, dungeon bosses test and challenge players about the game's different aspects in general. Aside from the basic patterns and concepts, they do not exercise mechanics or incorporate items to make it exciting or technical. Regardless of that, boss patterns are simplistic or uninteresting and some can be trivialized with the builtin shield. The final boss is almost an exception which provide a mechanical challenge; however, it feels unpolished and unfair with its execution and randomness. Overall, bosses are forgettable and unremarkable.

As a Zelda inspired game, sword attacks are the main form of damage; however, it means the combat is primarily slashing an enemy and running away which becomes stale without complexity or depth. The game already provides other items and weapons such as a bow, wand or hammer; however, they are limited by a mana attribute or item capacity which may be intended as secondary weapons. The problem with them as secondary weapons is that they do not do enough damage until upgraded but would be better well spent on upgrading the sword instead which perpetuates the lack of complexity. In short, the game discourages ranged weapons or items without providing depth to the only viable weapon.

While I can only talk about local co-op, the huge enemy knockback from sword attacks is dangerous to allies specially with the high contact damage. The sword range is too close or enemies do not get consistent hit stun that enemies accidentally do contact damage even with sword range upgrades which is personally infuriating and encourages splitting up. Aside from reviving allies, no major mechanic encourages cooperation which makes the multiplayer feel tacked on.

Alongside that issue is the class system which is supposed to give different playstyles or builds. The game lets you pick from 8 unlockable classes which differ mostly in their special move, class bonus, attack, defense and speed. Since swords are the most viable, picking a ranged class or non-melee class like the ranger or mage is not good. What dooms them further is their low defense which receives extremely high damage compared to their melee counterparts which feels unfairly balanced or skewed. The special traits and moves from the melee classes are underwhelming or bland given the effort to acquire them. Either the class system has to be balanced better or remove it altogether since it is deceptively dull.

Another staple of Zelda games are their puzzles which provide an intellectual challenge and heighten environmental awareness. Regardless of actual quality of the puzzles, my main complaint is the repetition of room puzzles. While repeating a puzzle on its own is not a strong issue, it makes exploration tedious and slow as it becomes a chore over multiple runs. The game seems to acknowledge this by making certain puzzles remain solved where it might be better to replace it with another generated room instead. If puzzles becomes a dungeon chore, it would be better to put them in the outside world to be more creatively designed and make traveling a more rewarding experience which the game poorly leans on with the other dungeons. The kind of dungeon puzzles the game uses does mesh well with the repetitive nature of the game, so removing it can make the overall pacing better and perhaps provide challenge modifiers/rooms instead for room rewards.

While I may have other smaller issues, the game fails in both being an engaging dungeon crawler Zelda or rogue-lite experience. Personally, I would probably enjoy the game more if it was not dependent on its poor rogue-lite aspect to prolong the game.