As someone who can barely plan their own life a month ahead, I hold a boundless wellspring of respect for indie developers who can churn away at a passion project for years on end without any firm promise of success at the end of it.
The latest slow-cooked project to come out of the oven is Vagante, a remarkably technical platformer-roguelike blend that RPS’s Marsh Davies took a lengthy look at back at the start of 2015, during its early days in alpha testing. Needless to say, it’s grown a bit since then.
Update: The developer pointed me to the most recent trailer for the game, which you can see below. It’s still a few years old. Apparently a new one is in the works.
At first blush, you could be excused for mistaking Vagante for Spelunky. A similar control scheme and art not dissimilar to Spelunky’s earlier, pixelly iteration make it an easy point of reference, but there are significantly more layers to this particular onion, most of them resulting in tears. Where Spelunky was about learning the precise usage of a very controlled pallette of enemies, environments and tools, Vagante aims to pattern itself after Nethack, the venerable great grandaddy of modern roguelikes.
What this means is a lot of items with possible alternative uses, a lot of creatures, and a lot of environments to learn, leading to a long learning curve but potentially great satisfaction if you stick around long enough to figure it all out. The launch patch-notes mention that the v1.0 release of Vagante adds a final zone, reworks the tutorial and includes a long-term progression and unlock system, and promises that development will continue at least some ways into 2018, but all the planned core content is now present and correct.
As for the other 50+ sets of patch notes between now and when we last looked properly at the game, you’ll just have to dig in for yourself, but I think it’s safe to say that Vagante has been polished and refined a lot over the past three years. The full game offers singleplayer and local multiplayer, and a feature that few indie platformers dare tackle: Online multiplayer. The game seems well enough populated at the moment, too, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find an adventuring buddy or two.
Vagante is out now on Steam and will put a £11/$15-sized hole in your wallet. Rather than do a launch discount, the developer has opted to raise the price a bit after the 25th, so if you’re sitting on the fence on this one, now would be the time to hop off it.