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Sneaking In: 100 Rogues

Sssh! Keep it quiet or someone will hear. I'm going to post about a Mac game. You see... wait, what was that? Did you hear something? Better hide.

OK. OK. The coast looks clear. Macs are just PCs in better clothes but with narrower minds, so we can write about them here. We're not big Mac users ourselves, but that's mostly because most of the games are on PC, mostly. There is a new exception to that, and a game that I dearly wish was on PC. It's called 100 Rogues, and it's a jolly, accessible but thoroughly brutal roguelike originally created for the eyeTelephone. I played the hell out of it on my Pad of Eyes for half of last year, and would confidently call it one of my favourite games of 2010. Now, it's also available for Mac computers, via the dark devilry that is the OSX App Store.

In the grand pantheon of roguelikes it is but a baby - very little you need to get your head around except fighting and eating. If you want a hardcore, complicated survival game this isn't for you. What it does, and why I like it, is take the very core of roguelikes and work on making those as compelling and tight as possible.

Those things: fighting, exploring, collecting, levelling.

The fighting is highly tactical, the exploring is random, the collecting is random and the levelling is part of the strategy. Don't be fooled by the pixel-art look. It's easy to start playing, but requires an analytical mind to get anywhere near conquering it.

It's turn-based and and is positively built around permanent death. While it can be completed (and I've heard folk with brains highly attuned to roguelikes say too easily so, but that wasn't the case for me), what it's really about is surviving for as long as possible and seeing how that compares to your last fatal dungeon crawl.

When death comes, it's almost always suddenly and horrifyingly. The game does a fine job of gradually and randomly equipping you with things you're damned sure can get you out of any trouble, but at some point either chaos theory or a reckless decision, such as wandering into the middle of a large room rather than keeping your back to a wall or lurking in a doorway, gets the better of you and BAM. But you cash out with a score, a list of monsters you managed to kill first and, if you've been exceptionally clever and lucky, a few trinkets stored in the randomly-appearing big blue locker that the next of your characters to find will be able to access.

It's been updated regularly since release, with both general new content such as extra items and balance fixes as well as microtransaction stuff like new classes and modes. It's an example of microtransacty stuff I'm OK with, as it's adding to the variety and scope of the game rather than having you pay for totally incidental or balance-changing stuff. Haven't bought all of the extra bits, but the Skellyman Scoundrel class I did, and the somersaulting, bomb-chucking skeletal rogue was totally worth it.

It's also capable of being supremely silly, as the Finger of God spell in the pic above suggests. You'll also find the likes of rocket-toting robots and evil giant Popes in there. It's a good time.

So, on the Mac App Store now for $4.99, or on portable iThingies for free . If you have a Mac, go get. If you don't, pray devs Dinofarm Games and Fusion Reactions do the smart thing and get it on Steam or suchlike soon.

Here's some weakman footage of the Mac version while you think it over/wait:

Watch on YouTube

Obviously looks better outside of a camcorder.

Thanks for the tip, Dzamir.

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