Shattered Planet [official site] is an attractive isometric sci-fi roguelike that captured my heart for a while after release. I mostly played on a tablet, whopping aliens during long flights and train journeys, but the PC version is not without charm.
At the beginning of each short run, you create a new character, but you can use resources gathered during your last attempt to buy equipment and items. The whole game leans heavily on randomisation, not just in its map layouts, but in the objects you receive – purchases are from slot machines rather than merchants, and you never know quite what you’re going to get.
Once in the field, you need to do what roguelike heroes do: move forward and downward, and loot or kill everything you find. Except, not quite. It’s possible to sidestep lots of possible combat encounters, either by using equipment that disguises or ingratiates, or simply by keeping your distance. Shattered Planet, then, becomes a game about picking your fights. Mostly, it’s about unlocking things though.
You’ll find mini text encounters, pets, enemy creatures, weapons, hats and more. I haven’t discovered everything yet – you can track what you’ve unlocked easily in the central hub – and that’s because the game always eventually seems like an exercise in clicking without thinking. Handsome it may be, but eventually it’s a random soup of pleasant bits and pieces, with very little tactical control. Your survival is determined by the equipment you receive, the layout of the maps (which, though visually appearing quite open, are essentially rooms connected by corridors in the traditional style) and the enemies thrown at you. Some smart ideas, such as a growing shadow-muck that spreads through each map, corrupting creatures and making them stronger and fiercer, keep my interest, but the overall flow of the game is almost passive.
I’ve spent hours with it though and if there were to be a follow-up with a little more freedom to build characters of my own choosing, I’d be very happy to take it for a spin.