Arcen’s Starward Rogue Released, Bionic Dues Free

Burning out on making Stars Beyond Reach, Arcen Games announced a few months ago they were putting the 4X strategy game to one side to focus on a roguelikelike they’d been toying with for a while. That game, named Starward Rogue [official site], is now here. It’s a top-down shooter with oodles of bullets to dodge and bosses to battle, about mechs exploring a mysterious structure stuck in the side of a star. It’s colourful!

Ooh, and to celebrate the launch, their 2013 tactical turn-based mech ’em up Bionic Dues is free if you grab it now. Have you played it?

First, Starward Rogue! It’s a bullet hell-ish roguelikelike items where you’ll roam catacombs, find items, level up, and shoot a whole load of enemies. It’s got mod support too. Have a look at the launch trailer:

Starward Rogue is £8.09 on Steam and the Humble Store (who simply give a Steam key anyway), thanks to a 10% launch discount.

As for the Bionic Dues freebie, until 6pm on Saturday (10am Pacific) you can download it for free from Humble for keepsies. It comes as a DRM-free download and a Steam key too. As free games are everywhere nowadays, hey, have a read of Wot Adam Thinks if you’ll need persuasion to actually give it a play rather than just adding it to a vast stack of games you sleep curled atop.

38 Comments

  1. Bostec says:

    Looks like a mash up between The Binding of Issac and Nuclear Throne. Plus I like Arcen Games, games. I am interested.

  2. KDR_11k says:

    That looks more than just bullet hell-ish. It doesn’t look much different from something like Touhou or Hellsinker, just with 360° aiming.

  3. bambusek says:

    I am more interested in Stars Beyond Reach, but will probably grab this one (I love Arcen Games) when it comes to GOG.

    • cupogoodness says:

      Dev here — GOG initially rejected our submission, but has indicated they’d reconsider if we have a strong launch and/or their customers are clamoring for it. In short: If you want the Starward Rogue on GOG, please let them know.

    • Unsheep says:

      GOG has most of their games so its weird they rejected this one.

      As long as I can buy the game somewhere, ideally DRM-free, I don’t really care whether GOG has it or not.

      Arcen actually have a store of their own on their website, where you can buy their games DRM-free, I’ve bought most of their games from there: link to arcengames.com

      • Vacuity729 says:

        I’m pretty sure that none of Atcen’s games use Steam’s drm, so once you’ve downloaded them, they can be played off a usb drive or whenever/however you feel like. If the issue is avoiding Steam rather than drm, that’s another matter.

        Yep, just tested. Quit Steam and then launched the game without any issue whatsoever.

        • Vacuity729 says:

          *Arcen’s*
          Gah, how many times do we have to bemoan the missing edit button?

          Now I sound like I’m playing games with my diet…

  4. harley9699 says:

    MUCH more interested in “Stars Beyond Reach”. We’ll pass on this plus, we don’t do bullet hell.

  5. Jalan says:

    Wasn’t there a big disclaimer just like they pulled with Stealth Inc. saying this was “free until January xx” or did they revoke that ridiculousness for this one?

    • Jalan says:

      I ask because I’d been reading people mentioning it but since I’d previously bought the game elsewhere haven’t bothered to make use of the offer for free. I see a “until 6pm Saturday” in the article though, so I guess it’s a repeat of Stealth Inc. indeed.

      • Dare_Wreck says:

        How in the world was there controversy for Humble giving away Stealth Inc. 2 for free back in August? I can’t find any reference to what you are talking about. Are you referring to free in that case being only a Steam key?

        • Jalan says:

          I don’t know about controversy, just that for being something given “free”, for them to take it back and leave a message in accounts that had it saying “This has now ended, we hope you backed up everything but if you didn’t, you can always buy the game in the Humble Store!” I missed out on Stealth Inc. (though not by choice as is with Bionic Dues this time) and I’d come across a forum thread (elsewhere) from the time it was given out and noticed it had people posting it in after the period ended that were upset that they had revoked the DRM-free bits away with others remarking “should’ve used the Steam key while you could’ve!”/etc.

          Seems strange to revoke the entire thing like that.

          • Dare_Wreck says:

            That’s exactly what I’m talking about – where did you hear that? I can’t find anything about that actually happening. I don’t even see anywhere where it was given away DRM-free, just as a Steam key.

          • Jalan says:

            Sorry, I misunderstood what you were going for I guess. I can’t cite strict examples but one forum I noticed it was GOG’s general discussion section.

            It wasn’t just the Steam key, it was much like Bionic Dues in that (apparently, since I wasn’t around for it) you went to the store page, added it to cart and checked out like normal. What you’d then get was a link to the download page (which contained a Steam key section as most of them tend to do) + the game in its DRM-free download form + whatever extra bits were included with it in the “Humble Special Edition” or however they label it.

            Apparently the catch was, you could use the Steam key and keep the game there but the access to the DRM-free bits were revoked and replaced with a message informing you that the period to access them was over and that the game was available to buy in the store.

          • Jalan says:

            Did some digging on Google and turned up this – link to epicbundle.com

            “This is the “Humble Deluxe Edition”. This special edition of Stealth Inc 2 contains the STEAM-Version + the DRM-Free download and also the Stealth Inc 2 Soundtrack.”

          • Dare_Wreck says:

            Ah yes, I now see various forums where people reported a warning on their Humble download page for the free game alerting them to the game only being redeemable until mid-September. In fact, I see a similar note in my Humble purchase history, since I apparently took advantage of that deal too (still never played it, mind you!): “Thanks for checking out Stealth Inc 2. Unfortunately, the FREE stuff was only available until September 14, 2015 at 10am Pacific.”

            I already have Bionic Dues (and really enjoyed it!), so I can’t see what happens if you grab a free copy via Humble now, though someone on Reddit noted a similar deal with this one – grab it from your Humble account page by Feb. 6, or it’s gone.

            Makes some sense, I suppose. If they’re giving away free copies of the game, they don’t want people taking advantage of it and litering the key aftermarket with oodles and oodles of keys for it.

          • Jalan says:

            “Makes some sense, I suppose. If they’re giving away free copies of the game, they don’t want people taking advantage of it and litering the key aftermarket with oodles and oodles of keys for it.”

            Maybe. Seems more like punishing the many because of actions of the few – revoking access to the Steam keys is one thing, I can see valid argument for that but removing access to the DRM-free content is baffling.

  6. jrodman says:

    Let me know if there’s a turn-based mode. Or if you’re publishing the source code so I can make one.

    • Hawkseraph says:

      If you want turn-based, The Last Federation, another of Arcen’s games, might be a better fit.

    • Rujasu says:

      There is a mech that stops time when you don’t move so that should let you think your moves.

    • KDR_11k says:

      That’s Bionic Dues, that has Rogue turns.

    • Vacuity729 says:

      As Rujasu says, there’s an option in there that’s kinda turn-based; you just have to live with the fact you’ve got almost no health. I mean, if you play a bullet hell shmup turn-based, there’s got to be a downside, right?

  7. RuySan says:

    even though i never liked any arcen game, i’m still interested in this one, mostly because these guys never shy away from experimenting a lot.

    • Rujasu says:

      They did the “Crop the UI out of the footage” thing so it looks really zoomed in. Game itself plays just fine.

  8. Ksempac says:

    Starward Rogue seems interesting, but is the field of view as limited as it was in the trailer ? It was so zoomed on the hero that there was barely any enemy visible on screen and most bullets had an unknown origin…

    • Todd Hawks says:

      No, the field of view is fine. It’s also customisable, you can zoom out or scale the whole game up (= zoom in).

      From what I played so far it is similar to Binding of Isaac but also different enough to feel fresh. It seems there are also unlockable items and floors, so it should be fun for a while. Check out Youtube, there are a few let’s plays already.

  9. Unsheep says:

    Bionic Dues is definitely worth picking up, while the combat maps don’t offer much in terms of variety, the gameplay is very challenging. Plus its fun to continuously upgrade your robots with new gear and weapons. Each robot type has its own unique skill sets.

    The game also has an non-rogue mode for gamers who don’t like rogue-likes but still want to experience the game.

    So don’t miss out on Bionic Dues, its a cool game.

  10. Chaoslord AJ says:

    As I like roguelike, shooting and Arcen I’ll grab that too. Either it’s a good game or I’ll support an interesting concept company.

    BTW thanks for the free key info. Hurray for item.

  11. bill says:

    All these free games are playing havok with my attempts to keep my backlog down.
    Shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and complain, but also can’t resist adding them to the pile of games…

  12. FredtheDeadHead says:

    These guys are like mad scientists with their games! You can play this game as a strategy/bullet hell! :0 One of the Mechs you can choose stops time when he stops shooting, so stop shooting and you find yourself walking through a bullet hell maze trying to figure out a strategy to win! Absolutely insane ideas, but SO cool.

  13. Crimsoneer says:

    I have a serious soft spot for Arcen and their philosophy, so bought!

  14. Crimsoneer says:

    So, I’ve now played for half an hour, so here are some initial impressions – as much as I hate making this sort of statements, it’s very much the Binding of Isaac in space. Sure, rooms are bigger and the economy is slightly more complex, but the fundamental principal (clear bunch of rooms, find upgrades, kill boss, rinse and repeat until bottom) remains.

    Also, the soundtrack rocks. I’m enjoying it. Eight quid well spent! (On sale at Humble)

    • FredtheDeadHead says:

      Did you try the RedShift Mech that stops time? Crazy ideas these guys have. Strategy/Bullet Hell! Very Cave inspired, I think, but with extra Arcen genre mashing.

  15. Professor Paul1290 says:

    That is sort of what it’s supposed to be.

    It is meant to be more a “conventional” game, which ironically makes it stick out as odd compared to their other games.

    It’s pretty much Arcen’s “we really like games like Binding of Isaac, Spelunky, Rogue Legacy, and other games like that, but we kind of wanted more of [insert mechanic here] so we made our own version of that” game.

    That said, by the same token it’s a much less niche and easier for a lot of people to get into than their other games, which I wouldn’t call a bad thing.

  16. Vacuity729 says:

    Hahahahahah!

    I’ve not played anything like a shmup for twenty years or so, and I’ve never played a twin-stick shooter on a controller before and I just had a go.

    That was awesome! Absolutely awesome!

  17. Sounds says:

    Probably late to the party, but I thought I’d quickly mention it is quite additive and worth a look if you’re into twin stick shooters. Awesome bullet hell awaits you. :)