If I fancy a session of old-fashioned honest-to-goodness roguelikin’, I usually turn to one of the pillars of the genre, games that have been around forever and a day. I’m talking Ancient Domains of Mystery, Nethack, Dungeon Crawl, Angband. I’m always looking for something fresh to add to the circulation though and Golden Krone Hotel [official site] is a definite contender.
You’re working your way through the wings and floors of a hotel, seeking a master vampire. Along the way you fight all manner of undead creatures and other creeps, and can even turn into a vampire or werewolf yourself. There are potions to identify, equipment upgrades to collect and spells to learn, but perhaps the most notable feature is the modelling of lightbeams shining through windows and a day/night cycle. Vampires burn in the sun, you see.
The game is coming to Early Access on October 26th but I’ve already had a quick play and like it very much indeed. Calculating the movement of beams of light as you move around – it’s all turn-based – is neat, and the more conventional roguelike bits and pieces are all solid as well. The one major simplification is in equipment management – you have a revolver, armour, a melee weapon and a shield. When you find new versions, you’ll keep them and upgrade if they’re better than what you already have, and otherwise you’ll convert them to cash, so there’s no actual inventory to deal with.
It’s similar to the method used in Cardinal Quest and keeps the game ticking along, which suits the slightly frantic nature of the quest. There’s no overworld here – you’re in the thick of it, trying to find and kill your target, and there are foul creatures in every shadow.
Potions work as the roguelike gods intended: you pick ’em up and then you quaff ’em to see if they make you feel better or explode in your stomach. You’re not going in completely blind in the Hotel though; the game lists three or four possibilities when you hover your cursor over a potion. Speaking of cursors, the game is best played with mouse and keyboard, the latter for movement and the former for clicking on potions and the like. It’s a decent interface, allowing you to do everything you need to do without lots of input learning beforehand.
There are some oddities. The vampires have human mercenaries working for them and these don’t attack you on sight, so you can natter with them. They think you might be a new recruit rather than an intruder. But I’ve killed a bunch of monsters in full view of them and they still don’t become hostile. I’m either failing to understand how the relationship works or there’s a bug or gap in the logic there.
But no matter – there’s so much to admire here that I’ll almost certainly be revisiting when the Early Access version launches to remind you all about the game. I reckon a successful run will require some form of mastery of form-shifting, between vampire and human (and other things), which requires use of blood and potions and magic in all kinds of fun ways. Also worth noting is that the game is fabulously stacked with gothic campiness and is therefore perfect for this Halloween-y release window.