The roguelike-like spirit has meandered across video games history for a few years now, turning old things new with a little roguelike RPG kick, and now it’s hit the unusual host of wonky ’90s shareware FPSs. Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike launched last Friday, looking and sounding like something from the dark corners of a 1996 cover disc but pleasing with procedural generation and oodles of items and stats crafting and all that.
A hearty launch discount brings it down to £3.49 on Steam and a demo’s that-a-way too.
It is a mid-’90s wonky shareware FPS, with garish crude monsters chasing you around a 2D plane in 3D space station corridors. Running-backwards and circle-strafing (and sometimes maddeningly snagging on walls), you shoot them until they fall over. Meshed in with this is a roguelike-like layer of finding new items with new stats and abilities, levelling up to unlock new perks, repairing items, and a persistent progression of collecting ‘intel’ to unlock new starting loadouts.
It’s tricky to demo a roguelike-like, and Rogue Shooter’s hides what would be the game’s lasting appeal. It doesn’t offer enough to get a taste for the variety of items and skills that make such things interesting, or to get far enough for deaths to inspire furious streams of cussing. It’s locked to the lowest difficulty too. Nor do we get to unlock different loadouts, which one imagines will present some interesting challenges. But we do get to shoot things, which is somewhat key to the game.
The retro vibe is a curious one. Shooting looks, sounds, and feels weak because hey, it’s retro. The monsters are an eclectic selection of wacky aliens and carnivorous plants and whatnot because hey, it’s retro. Levels are sprawls of intersecting corridors because hey, it’s retro and it’s an unimaginative procedural generation algorithm. The style didn’t click with me, though I am but a mewling babe so the nostalgia may tug at your heart more. Have a look: