Roguelikes are an interesting subgenre of gaming that have seen a recent surge in popularity. I have grown a significant fondness for roguelikes due to their inherent unfairness. The urge to constantly one up yourself is incredibly satisfying. Finding a new item on one run, killing a new boss in another. Each subsequent run holds a myriad of new items and encounters and the opportunity to go further than you ever have before. Enter Roguelands. A 2D side scrolling roguelikes RPG that promises the same level of difficulty and excitement that some of the best roguelikes have to offer with the added bonus of diverse loot drops and extensive character customization. I’m just not entirely sure that it lives up to its overwhelming promise.

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Roguelands is a visually solid game. I has never taken aback or struck by any of the art. It gets the job done and looks good while doing it. Nothing about the character, weapons, and weapon designs are necessarily bad per se but they’re not out of this world either. Roguelands does not have the superb visual fidelity of a Enter the Gungeon or the excellent character designs of Nuclear Throne. It seems to play it relatively safe. It reminds me of a lot of Terraria, which (and I realize I may be in a minority) I don’t particularly care for. People love it, I totally understand. But, for one reason or another it never grabbed me with the same tenacity that it did for others. It was a fun game for a couple hours and then it quickly became boring and tedious. I’m feeling that same way about Roguelands to be quite frank and there’s a very good reason for that.

The actual game part of Roguelands just isn’t for me. It’s bizarre as hell but I just didn’t enjoy playing Roguelands. The combat always felt wonky and unreliable. I mentioned earlier the inherent unfairness in roguelikes, it’s a facet of the genre that I love. Yet, Roguelands never grabbed me, especially with the combat being the thing in the game. If you don’t enjoy the combat in a game that is heavily focused on its combat then what is the point of continuing? The issue is that the mechanics are not a simple left click to attack, instead you must enter the combat mode followed by your attacks. It wasn’t too bad at first but after hours of the same cumbersome controls it grew tedious, which then propelled itself into boredom.

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I don’t want to say that I hate Roguelands. There’s something there that I can’t quite understand as of now. I enjoyed how quick everything was. There is a particular speed to the movement that encourages players to grow skilled with the combat. If you can master the quickness of the movement with the combat I’m pretty sure that you will find yourself having a fantastic time. I want to continue to play Roguelands. I might keep bashing my head against Roguelands until I figure it out. It might be a fruitless effort (square peg; round hole) but one that I’m curious in undertaking. I’ve played many roguelikes and loved most of them. I’ve even been enjoying my time with We Happy Few which is one of the most peculiar examples of a roguelike (and has been receiving significant hate for that fact).

Roguelands does have the added benefit of extensive character customization which effects traits and stats in-game. There’s a whole slew of different options and playstyles to choose from it can initially come across as overwhelming. But, the different races and classes are trickled down to you as you continue to play so, while it may seem overwhelming at first, it never really is. This feature is what makes me want to keep coming back to the game. Character customization is something that I value a lot in games. I don’t need it to enjoy myself in a game, far from it in fact but it’s addition is always a welcome sight. It’s especially welcome when race designation and class selection (there’s a shit ton of classes to say the least) are so staggering. Each class feels different and gives you a lot of opportunities to find the right style for you. This is why I don’t want to give up on the game just yet. I don’t think I’ve found that right class and when I do I feel that I have a radically different perspective on the game.

If I find the class for me I’ll probably come back and update this article with this new found perspective. If I don’t, well at least I gave it a shot. For now, Roguelands is a fun but sluggish experience that may take some time and effort to get in to. If the time sink isn’t for you there’s a wide range of options available to you in the roguelike field. Some of the other roguelikes, I’d venture to say, are actually more enjoyable experiences than Roguelands. I guess only time will tell on that front.

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