Rogue Lords is a little messy, but one of its features certainly stands out above the rest: you can cheat.
I don’t mean an up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right type of cheat, either. I mean a deal-with-the-devil type of cheat; a baked-in mechanic that you can employ as you make your way through Rogue Lords – providing you have enough Essence, that is.
This roguelike combat game will have you making your way through numerous encounters, and while you can use your characters’ range of skills to get through them, you can also call upon the devil to help you out. Drain an enemy’s HP to zero? Done. Steal your adversary’s useful buff? Not a problem. Outside of combat, maybe you’ve come across a stranger in a social encounter, and you’ve only got a 50% chance of convincing them to do what you want. The devil can easily make that 100%.
You can call upon the devil as often as you like, but each time you use its powers, it’ll drain some of your Essence. You can’t rely on cheating your way through the entirety of Rogue Lords, then, but it’s certainly a useful skill to have.
At its core, Rogue Lords is easily compared to something like Slay the Spire. Combat is turn-based, and you’re able to see what your opponents’ intent is for the next turn. So, like Slay the Spire and its brethren, you’ll need to plan your moves accordingly. Rather than being card-based, though, you have three characters, each with their own skills. Some of those skills will deal damage, others may imbue buffs or weaknesses.
That’s Rogue Lords‘ combat at its most simple, at least. There are lots of complex mechanics at play that take some time to get your head around – and, having only played a few games myself, I’m still trying to understand them all. There’s a tutorial before you get started, but it throws so much information at you that it’s hard to absorb it – and you’ll probably have more luck simply figuring it out as you go along.
Getting to grips with the different types of skills your characters have is the biggest battle of Rogue Lords; once you begin to understand them, you’ll fare much better in combat. You’ll unlock new skills, stats and upgrades as you play, too. Although this is a roguelike of course, so once you’ve reached the end of your run it’ll be back to square one. A new run means new enemies to face, new skills to unlock and new random encounters. The more you play, the more you’ll get out of Rogue Lords, but figuring it out for those first couple of runs can be a little overwhelming.
Along with the ‘cheating’ mechanic, Rogue Lords‘ aesthetic really stands out. Your party includes the likes of Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein and the Headless Horseman, all presented with wonderful 2D animation. It’s like a gothic cartoon; even the backdrops and environments ooze a spooky, eerie atmosphere. It’s perfect just in time for Halloween.
If you enjoy Slay the Spire and like the idea of something similar but with a horror-themed aesthetic, give Rogue Lords a try. Perhaps some of its mechanics are over-complicated, but battling a tortured soul as Dracula doesn’t get old quickly – and neither does using the devil to manipulate the odds in your favour.