Roulette Knight is RPG meets Russian roulette

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The gushing spring of free games known as Ludum Dare has once again spittled forth a small treasure. Pick it up, rub the muck off, it’s Roulette Knight, an RPG about playing round after round of Russian roulette. There’s no journey from one end of the kingdom to another, no evil lord to vanquish – that stuff’s for SQUIRES. Here, you just sit in a room, slip bullets into a revolver, and pull the trigger for cash rewards and XP. It’s short, silly and fills you up with giddy stress.

The deadliness of a bullet has been nerfed somewhat, however, and it takes two unlucky rounds to finish off this tenacious bloke-at-arms. At least at first. The RPG part soon becomes clear. After a few successive empty clicks of the hammer, you level up. With money earned you can buy health-giving trinkets or protective buckets to put on your head (and the more bullets you play with, the greater the rewards). You also make your way up the skill tree with XP, giving your knight armour plating or the chance to regenerate health with each blank shot. Other skills include the chance of a misfire, or a bonus that doubles your winnings for the next shot.

The shop items also rotate. Bigger guns with more chambers become available, or you might see a Holy Grail that boosts all sorts of stats. A map also charts your progress, challenging you to increase the damage from each bullet, or adding extra chambers one by one. Although when your revolver increases in size, the minimum number of bullets you have to jam into the death wheel goes up. The whole thing is just a finely trimmed tree of numbers and odds, blossoming with bullet flowers.

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It was created by FourQuarters Team for the 41st incarnation of the Ludum Dare game jam, under the theme “Combine two incompatible genres”. And what once seemed incompatible now seems very compatible. But I guess you can put a skill tree and a gambling mechanic into anything and it will work. The team have attempted to avoid some of the inherent darkness of this particular topic by including a ‘game over’ image of a nurse patching up your head, as if two bullets coursing through your bonce was only as debilitating as a grazed knee. But this doesn’t reduce the gambler’s tension in those important moments, when your next shot could mean a new goodie from the shop or instant death.

You can play it for free here.

13 Comments

  1. Nelyeth says:

    Took it for a spin, and it’s definitely a great little game. A bit reset-heavy for the first few bullets, and some items are way too strong (twin dominos say hello), but they really nail the risk and ressource management.

    The map forcing you to move on to higher difficulties feels unfair when you haven’t had luck with the shop though.

    • Zmobie says:

      “The map forcing you to move on to higher difficulties feels unfair when you haven’t had luck with the shop though.” That sounds just like FTL

      • Nelyeth says:

        Now that you say that, it does feel like FTL. Arguably, it isn’t as frustrating in FTL because there’s a skill component and the difficulty curve had been thoroughly playtested, but the concept is exactly the same.

        The risk management also feels very similar: you’ve got no choice but to go forward, and since there’s a finite number of shots (or a finite number of jumps, in FTL’s case), you have to make them count.

        Last common ground I’ve noticed: I haven’t managed to finish either of them. Ugh.

  2. unacom says:

    Now, if they had played this to the bitter “Deer Hunter” end by adding minions and overlords to the merry-go-round, we´d have ourselves a nice little commentary on dungeoncrawlers.
    Still, very good.

  3. TillEulenspiegel says:

    There’s a ton of graphical art and animation in this, for a LD game.

    I’d stopped paying attention to Ludum Dare, so I guess I missed when “Jam” became the default mode. More time, teams allowed, and even previously created code/art allowed. That’s so much less interesting as a structured event, though I guess it still works as a showcase for prototypes.

  4. DarkFenix says:

    Shitcock. I lost. On the last shot I needed to take, from the last level. Considering it took three shots in a row to kill me, and I had a 95% dodge chance, I suspect that last level is a bit fixed.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Hey, remember when RPS was talking about the noose icon for suicidal depression in that Viking game being insensitive? Here’s a game literally about putting a gun to your head!

    • Nelyeth says:

      One of these game is a supposedly serious survival-sim in which you manage a group of survivors with their stories, hopes, and all that feely stuff. It tries to make you care for your characters, so of course using a noose icon is terribly tone-deaf.

      The other one is a tongue-in-cheek game made in a single week-end with the theme “mix two incompatible things together” and in which you can put a fish bowl over your head to reduce the damage taken from a bullet to the head, or buy a bigger gun because of course that’s the thing to do.

      Gee, RPS, why these double standards?

    • lukibus says:

      The article does seem a bit ill-considered considering there is no context in the article for why the knight is playing self bullet death.
      And considering the stats related to males/suicide it might be considered that the tone of the article is flippant.

  6. dontnormally says:

    I think I hate this game.

    I mean good job on them for making it, but not much has frustrated me as much as this.

  7. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    Does not anyone else see the missed opportunity in the final paragraph to refer to a Knight Nurse? Maybe as a tooltip on the image? No?

    I’ll get me cuirass.

  8. Barts says:

    Hmm, what palette is that?