Rogue Stormers – PAX South 2016 Coverage
If the name Rogue Stormers sounds unfamiliar, you might recognize the game under its previous moniker, DieselStörmers. There’s a strange story behind that involving a clothing brand and the weirdness of trademark laws, but even Mischa Streker, Product Manager from Black Forest Games, admitted to me that the name change was a slight relief due to the challenges of that umlaut. With a new name, and about two months until its release on March 24, I met with Mischa to take a look at how Rogue Stormers has evolved.
Rogue Stormers is a rogue-like* action platformer that draws inspiration from titles like Metal Slug. Though the game is playable in single-player mode, its primary draw will be its shared-screen multiplayer, available both local and online with 2-4 players. There are currently five characters available, each with a different skill set and style of play – including a crazed opera singer that can serenade as he slaughters. There are party boosts and synergies between characters, but it won’t be penalizing if everyone decides to play the same character in a game.
*Or rogue-lite or procedurally-generated death-crawl. Whatever you fancy, that’s a semantics argument I’m not here to settle today.
As a rogue-like, death is permanent and gear is not. Instead, progression is marked through character-specific experience that grants a variety of perks. These perks, while minor (such as granting an extended dash or movement speed boost), are designed to help assist players in getting further with each gameplay session. In local co-op, the main player’s perk level passes on to their allies. In online co-op, player’s perks are brought in from their individual progress. There is no matchmaking system to match perk-levels, so more skilled players may be paired with inexperienced players: it’s up to the team to work past these challenges.
The game itself is divided into eight procedurally-generated stages, with every other floor (starting at level 2) featuring a boss battle. These stages are generated in ‘chunks,’ interconnected map pieces which piece together to create a different play through each time. Power-ups, items, and shops can be found along the journey, if you can brave the enemies to get to them. The game’s difficulty is pretty tough, and I expect that like most rogue-likes, it’ll take many hours to train and learn the game’s mechanics, strategies, and patterns in order to beat that final boss.
Rogue Stormers has a very grungy and industrial theme, from its gritty looks to its grinding soundtrack. All of the pieces work very well together, though it’s clear that in multi-player, the screen will become confusing as explosions abound and characters get lost in the gunfire. While Mischa did not elaborate on the story, I’m sure it’s going to be just as darkly strange as some of its enemies, which include orcs, goblins, and farting angels. Oh yeah, and there’s a flying squid taxi.
Rogue Stormers has the look and feel of an arcade game with that sweet modern gaming upgrade. It’s not without its flaws: the control scheme feels a little awkward and non-intuitive on a controller, and like other rogue-likes, it will feel repetitive over time. But the developers acknowledge the game is still being aggressively improved and hope for a successful release on March 24.
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