If there’s one thing you can always rely on in the games industry, it’s that successful titles are going to spawn a whole bunch of follow-ons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course; we wouldn’t have the first-person shooter, first-person puzzler or even the beloved walking simulator if Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM and Half-Life hadn’t shaken the Earth. Thus, when Slay the Spire did well, not too many people were surprised when we saw a lot of games in the same vein show up.
Today we’ve got Rogue Lords, which, speaking of veins, has a lot of Dracula going on, since it allows you to play as the bad guys and take on the forces of good.
Rogue Lords provides an unusual twist on the roguelite formula, instead going with a take more along the lines of Iratus: Lord of the Dead. We follow our hero (?), the Devil, as they battle Van Helsing of Dracula fame and his legion of demon hunters. The Devil’s going to need help to influence events, so they recruit classic villains like Dracula, Victor Frankenstein and so on. It’s a team-up to rival the finest of Universal’s films.
Generally speaking, what you’ve got here is a Slay the Spire-style roguelite with some elements from Darkest Dungeon. You’ll control classic monsters and use your demonic powers to bend the rules a little where necessary. Gameplay alternates between story, utility and combat segments, with the first two representing Slay the Spire’s random map events. These allow you to obtain items and buffs necessary to prevail in combat.
When it’s time to fight, your Disciples, the aforementioned classic monsters, will take the field against meddling do-gooders in a manner much like Darkest Dungeon. Each Disciple has their own set of skills, essentially acting as Slay the Spire’s cards in combat, as well as non-combat stats that come into play during story segments where choosing the right Disciple for the right job might earn you rewards. Finding the right synergy between disciples’ combat skills and a good spread to cover non-combat challenges is vital to success.
Unlike Darkest Dungeon, your Disciples are fully healed between fights, so you’re free to go nuts – and if you want to go a little more nuts you can use demonic powers to mess around with the fight. These are absolutely busted, allowing you to simply kill enemies because you’re the freaking Devil and you freaking say so. It’s very liberating, but the energy used to power these doesn’t regenerate so it’s best to cheat sparingly.
As horror fans know, there’s definitely something to be said for bringing classic monsters together. The Headless Horseman is here! He’s got no head! You start the game with Dracula! Given the season it’d be tough to find a more appropriate game, and Rogue Lords revels in its Saturday morning cartoon villainy. If you’re into being bad and enjoy games like Dungeon Keeper, you’ll get a kick out of the evil on offer here.
There’s a lot of games like this these days, as mentioned earlier, and players can afford to be a little picky. Something like Rogue Lords needs to bring a lot to the table if it’s going to be worth your precious time and money. Fortunately, the hilarious cheating mechanic and dedication to villainry is enough to help this one stand out. It’s worth a look – especially with Halloween right around the corner.