Looking to upgrade your rogue skills? Simply float over and possess an enemy with new skills and strength! Rogue Spirit is all about trying something new to overcome an old evil terrorizing the kingdom. It plays like many rogue-lite games with the surprise detail: you can possess the bodies of your enemy! Crossing the veil between the living and the spirit world is exactly what Halloween is all about. It’s perfect for Day 2 of our 31 Days of Halloween Gaming: Rogue Spirit.
What Is Rogue Spirit?
Rogue Spirit is a 3D rogue-lite action game recently released in Early Access on Steam. It was developed by Kids with Sticks and published by 505 Games. The game is set in the fictional Kingdom of Midra, with strong Japanese influences on both aesthetics and characters. The land has been taken over by the Demon King and the army of chaos. To defeat the Demon King, the local monks have summoned the spirit of the former Prince of Midra (that’s you). In your previous life, you were responsible for locking away the Demon King and bringing peace to the land. The monks are hoping you can do the same again.
The game opens with the initial summoning, where you are greeted by the monks and very briefly told what is happening. You can play the game in one of two modes: spirit form without corporeal form but able to sneak past enemies or physical form by possessing bodies as you defeat them.
The goal is to remove Chaos from the Kingdom of Midra. Each level is essentially the journey from one location to the next: villages, forests, marshes. The fights will differ each time, dependent on the location, the enemies, and your strategy. As you defeat your enemies, you are able to possess their bodies, accessing their skills and strength as your own.
What no one told me at me the start is how much dying there is in this game. I am not the greatest gamer in the world, but I was seriously frustrated with how quickly I was dying in each battle. For my first 20 minutes of gameplay, my longest survival period was 3 minutes 23 seconds. However, if you go into this game thinking it is your standard battle adventure, you are going to miss out on the character progression. There is a time for hack-and-slash-based gameplay. But Rogue Spirit also requires stealth and observation.
Rogue Spirit is still a rogue-lite game in character: you have random dungeon generation, death requires respawning at the monastery, there is plenty of map to explore, and there are resources available to manage your survival rate. Where it stands out is the ability to change your core character and skill tree by possessing others. Instead of progressing the same core skill set, you can change it up depending on who you possess at the time.
Violence aside (because it is a violent game and not recommended for young children), Rogue Spirit holds a level of complexity that moves it beyond the realm of a casual gamer. A good comparison is Hades, a similar rogue-lite game with the same need to die repeatedly to progress (you can read the GeekDad review here). It’s the only part of both games I seem to do right. Now, one of the things I love about Hades is the way it blends strategy, skill, and button-mashing in its battle. Many of the best gamers use a certain finesse with their technique. Gamers like me can still work on technique, but we also gain moderate satisfaction from progressing with a bit of AARRGGHH!!! in certain scenes.
Rogue Spirit doesn’t allow the same level of… exuberance. It relies more heavily on skill in fight scenes. And while it does encourage a change of pace with the spirit/stealth mode, it isn’t the same. For casual gamers with less skill and coordination, it may take a while to plod through the early stages and find your rhythm. I still think the game is worth it, so long as you remember to break up your gameplay with some floaty exploration as well.
How Does Rogue Spirit Look
This game can be distractingly beautiful, with both its scenery and the visuals of gameplay. Players have access to the 3D view with both movement and camera-panning for a better perspective. (Quick Sidenote: Playing on Steam, I had to lower the mouse response to 40% because it was way too quick for my motion sickness tendencies. Not a complaint, more an observation on how responsive the game is to the controls)
During the initial battle scenes, I found it a bit overwhelming with fast movements and smooth graphics from the enemy but clunky movements from my owner player. At first, I thought it was just me but there have been comments from other players of the same experience. Again, I think this is one of those features where the more experience you have as a gamer in general, the faster you will adapt to the game. Casual gamers will think this is beautiful and fun while experienced players will appreciate the finer details.
Rogue Spirit is fun and sits on the fine line of “I can only play in small doses” and “I am finally in the zone.” The game development is still in Early Access on Steam, and the developers are very open to feedback as they slowly roll out the full version by early next year. At this point, there are only a few levels and characters available to play, but there is enough here to interest me for future play. I would love to see more environments open up, with visuals reflecting the gradual recession of Chaos from the kingdom.
The highlight of the game is the body-possession, a theme that fits perfectly during our 31 Days of Halloween Gaming. I love the idea of exploring a variety of skills to progress through the game. And while the gameplay isn’t as effective for me as Hades, the larger visuals are more appealing. This game is well-suited to teenagers and above with gaming skills and experience to manage the inevitable multitude of deaths.
Rogue Spirit is currently available in Early Access on Steam with updates planned through to February. Check out their website here for more details. Evil Genius Mum received a free copy for the purpose of this review; no other compensation was received.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 Summoned Spirits