Have You Played… Streets of Rogue?

Slice and/or dice

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Accidental death simulators are wonderful. In Streets of Rogue, you can slip on a banana peel and set off a land mine. You can hack a computer and get caught by a policeman, who’ll cave your head in. You can set a bunch of stuff on fire but then run into the fire and die in the fire because it is a fire why did you run into that?

It indulges you with silliness. Procedurally-generated quests keep you busy as you explore multiple floors of a futuristic city block that cares only for chicken nuggets and mayhem. Playable characters include an investment banker who needs to take cocaine just to keep himself alive, a gorilla who is hated by scientists but who will free and gather other gorillas into an army of primates, and a tiny naked man with red eyes who can jump into other people’s bodies and control them like a skin suit, using their skills and attributes at will. Honestly, it’s got a better cast than Overwatch.

It’s still in development, with creator Matt Dabrowski mulling over future features such as a final encounter (this is a roguelite romp, after all) and more environmental hazards. If the new Deus Ex games were too po-faced and limited for you, this is one of the cheapest and most cheerful antidotes available. A roguelite that takes the immersive sim and covers it in clown make-up.


  1. Dominic Tarason says:

    I forget who said it, but I saw someone once compare Streets of Rogue to the little-known Shadowrun game on the Megadrive/Genesis.

    They’re dead on the money. It feels a lot like a slightly more anarchic version of that, and as such, I love it.

    • Thants says:

      The Genesis Shadowrun is a great game. It always felt to me like a primitive ancestor to modern open-world and immersive sim games.

    • milligna says:

      Little known? It’s one of the most beloved games on that console.

  2. geldonyetich says:

    It’s pretty good, I like that the developer has tried to offer you creative options to complete objectives, and yet he managed to keep it fairly balanced.

    Needs a kid-safe mode for the young nephew. I think the cartoon violence is alright, but I keep stumbling across cocaine pickups for power-ups. Not exactly the first impression about illegal narcotics I want to instill in a grade schooler.

    • DThor says:

      Is it OK to just have a game for adults? I don’t understand the necessity of the word “need” here.

      • shde2e says:

        The game could really use a kid-safe mode to expand it’s potential audience then.

    • MajorLag says:

      Beating people to death and buying slaves => OK.

      Using a potent stimulant to make you better at it => Not OK.

  3. John Vakmos says:

    I wonder if someone could mod it to replace all the illegal drug related words with legal ones. Like instead of cocaine it’s sugar.

    • Meatpopsicle says:

      So beating people to death is ok, but using drugs isn’t?

    • Baboonanza says:

      You want to encourage children to eat sugar? YOU’RE A MONSTER!

  4. Paul Debrion says:

    I feel like Streets of Rogue the most enthusiastic expression of “Immersive Sim” qualities in a non-first-person game.

    I would even go so far to say that it expresses some of those qualities better than many of the games more commonly associated with the genre.

  5. Flangie says:

    My sons (11 and 8) love this game, and have played it for more hours than I can guess. When I bought it I didn’t realise about many of the ‘quirky’ character traits like the cocaine thing, and that it wouldn’t be particularly child friendly in terms of tone. But the incredible potential to cause havoc in unexpected ways is just too much fun to stop them from playing it now lol.

    • Danda says:

      Same here. My son is 8 and he just want to play this all the time. We have logged 150 hours so far.

      (The developer answers to the cocaine thing below this thread. He’s “madguy”.)

  6. Splendid Snail says:

    In the crowded field of roguelikelikelikes, this really stands out. It captures the heavily class-dependent aspect of traditional roguelikes perfectly – there are just so many ways to play it – but it’s also a delightfully cheerful coffee-break smash-em-up.

  7. April March says:

    This is brilliant. I don’t buy Early Access games, but I bought this one, mostly because I’d played the free alpha so much I tought the dev deserved my money. And it’s brilliant. There are so many interlocking systems I never stop finding new ways to abuse the system… and to get abused (and killed) in turn.

    I only finished the alpha once; since them I haven’t been able to reach the end of the Industrial levels. I’m pretty bad at this game!

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      Industrial can be tough, particularly inside those “mini-dungeon” buildings filled with flamethrowers, buzzsaws, and conveyor belts leading to bottomless pits. My advice is to focus solely on goals once you hit industrial, and ignore the temptation to loot every building. Also, remember that destroying computers deactivates traps – a single well-placed grenade can make your job a hell of a lot easier.

  8. poliovaccine says:

    Oh hell yeah, this is a permanent desktop shortcut for me. It’s like Peewee Herman crossed with Hitman, and somehow it makes all these dozens of options and systems and variables feel lite and easy and snacky. Good fun, emphasis on fun.

    Plus, *all* games should have a “lace a building’s air vents with various drugs” mechanic…!

  9. TheAngriestHobo says:

    Awesome game. I reviewed it for a local geek-culture blog when it was only on Itch.io, had no music, and a much more limited roster of characters (this was about a year and half ago), and even then it was clear that it was going to be a hit. It’s only improved since then.

  10. Madguy says:

    Dev here! RE: The Cocaine thing — Yeah I actually agree with you, I put it in a long time ago because it amused me and didn’t really think about the prospect of children actually playing this thing. Sugar works. Or “Speedy Powder” :p

    • Meatpopsicle says:

      Could always make it a made up stimulant?

      • poliovaccine says:

        Again, I gotta wonder why it being made up vs. real somehow changes the value judgment.

  11. poliovaccine says:

    I mean, changing the name from cocaine to something else just says that cocaine in particular is unacceptable, but there’s still gonna be the mechanic for dosing yourself with psychotropic substances, as well as dosing others against their will. I’m also a little amused that the drugs are what concern the parents here, and not like, yknow, the theft and murder haha. Whatever, society has never really had a consistent opinion on drugs.

  12. Moonracer says:

    I enjoy rouge-likes, but I am generally terrible at them. This does a great job of making the experience fun as well as challenging.

    I also laugh at people’s concerns with drug names. The game has alcohol, cigarettes, theft, slavery, murder,… but cocaine? Think of the children!