Developer: Padaone Games
Publisher: Padaone Games
Platform: Wii U
Release Date: July 2, 2015
The Nintendo eShop is crowded with platformers from developers both noteworthy and newly risen. In order for these games to stand apart from their contemporaries, their presentation has to keep folks entertained, and the gameplay premise should be intuitive, if not simple. Enter Roving Rogue — as Kurt the Righteous, players are attempting to return home after defeating the final boss. It psyches you into thinking you“ve won within the first few minutes, but really... the end is actually the beginning. With only a two button control scheme, Kurt“s journey is an example of what could be an enjoyable gameplay premise, if it has variety and keeps things interesting in its execution.
I spent just under six hours completing the entire game from start to finish, and saw the credits roll a second time and gathered each of the three collectibles hidden in forty levels. Philosophically, and in terms of its level design, the game is all right. No trick the developers throw at you feels unfair. Each level is a race to the goal, more or less — you“re either climbing up a level to avoid rising lava, or running to the right of a level, away from the threat of a collapsing wall behind you. Sometimes you're doing this in the dark. There are checkpoints to prevent frustration, and you're not punished if you get stuck for a bit.
Ultimately, if there were a little more variety with its enemies and types of levels, I would call this game well-executed, in terms of its mechanics. Uncovering the story by way of collecting a level“s three â€œamnestatuettesâ€ is a useful tool if you otherwise have little means of advancing the story. But... I think I can count the number of different enemies I encountered on a single hand. I feel like Padaone Games restricted themselves by going for a retro-inspired feel, here.
Roving Rogue's presentation, beyond the high notes I discussed above, leaves me shaking my head. The story“s premise sounds unique all by itself, but when each of the levels you play feature an introductory bit of text advancing the story that... is literally a tweet from Kurt or another character — complete with hashtags — even die-hard Twitter Faithful will audibly groan. A loosely paraphrased example from one of the earlier levels is a tweet from one of the enemies of the game proclaiming, â€œkill kill kill kill kill #killâ€.
Even if you“re forgiving of how it“s been presented to you, I promise — and I“ve seen the end, mind you — it“s truly forgettable. It“s unfortunate, because the Wii U (as far as I know, this game was released exclusively for it) has an entire social media platform in the Miiverse. Why weren“t the tiny story-advancing segments done as Miiverse posts instead of tweets? So much about my experience with the game just spells #missedopportunity.
Underneath the presentation, though, is a game that has a disturbing lack of quality control. Its sense of design is certainly fair, but the controls that dictate it sometimes miss the mark. You only have one control option in the Gamepad, so shelf your Wii U Pro Controller and Wii Remotes if you have them. And if you“re going for off-TV play, get ready for several bits of stuttering, especially if you die often. It“s like the engine sometimes can“t catch up with putting you back at a checkpoint quickly after you die.
You sometimes see enemies falling towards you as you return. Gameplay frames sometimes freeze in place during high impact moments — and that“s just on the Gamepad, mind you; not the TV. Last but not least... my save data disappeared without warning before I could finish the game the first time. I have no idea what caused it, but I restarted from the beginning and (especially since I knew where all the amnestatuettes were) had the whole game completed in just a few short hours.
If I had to summarize my experience with Roving Rogue with a single comparison, I“d choose to describe its last level. It feels too long, there aren“t enough variances in gameplay for it to stand apart from anything you“ve played before. There is a definite lack of depth in the story and characters, and a distinct — pretty much disqualifying — lack of quality control. You won“t feel overwhelmed as you play. It“s more like the game itself will feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies that populate the screen at one time, as a means to make things more difficult.
For its asking price, even with a multiplayer element, I really can“t recommend this one. Its structure and foundation seem competent and unique on the outside, but as you make your way through the story to the ending, you“d be left seeing more of its faults than anything.
+ Interesting premise that has some well-executed parts to it
+ Level design is never too unfair
- Story is advanced in the form of tweets... literally
- Gameplay often stutters, and controls are assuredly not as tight as they could be
- It's short, but not sweet. Beyond multiplayer, you won't be given any reason to return to this game after beating it
Overall Score: 3.5 (out of 10)
Roving Rogue could have been a decent game if the developers had made some better choices and spent more time fine-tuning the experience.
Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a Wii U download code provided by the publisher