Available on: Windows PC
When I spoke to Black Forest Games at PAX South, they revealed that Rogue Stormers went through a major evolution during Early Access. It was originally devised as a standard action-RPG, but came off as too linear and boring. BFG revamped the gameplay, adding randomized levels and multiple characters. The result is an intriguing combination of side-scrolling shooter and rogue-like dungeon crawler.
The world of Rogue Stormers showcases a unique style called “Dieselpunk.” Dieselpunk represents an industrial World War 1-2 aesthetic. Black Forest Games applied this world of bulky technology to the medieval-like city of Ravensdale. A substance called “goop” powers all their diesel engines. It also turns the population of Ravensdale into monsters.
The bright art style really pops, giving the entire game a cartoony look. The art meshes really well with the 90s-like arcade shoot ’em up action. It looks great, but I also experienced frequent framerate issues whenever lots of enemies appeared on screen.
Each level cleverly uses individual room chunks to string together deadly traps and monster spawn points. Fire, grease, and lighting fields will harry your progress. Sentry cannons and goblin zeppelins fire a volley of bullets. Goblins and orcs run at you with chainsaws, laser blasts, and dark energy. Enemies continually spawn behind you as you make your way through increasingly complex levels. There’s never a dull moment. The action is even more chaotic during multiplayer.
Running and Gunning
You begin with only a single character armed with a machine gun. Your gun auto fires in a direction independent of your movement, like a twin-stick shooter. Dodging enemy attacks while spraying bullets remains fun and exciting even after your many deaths. And you will die a lot.
Rogue Stormers employs “rogue-like” dungeon design. You’re meant to die and try again with a different dungeon layout. Thankfully experience and character levels are persistent. You’ll continue to earn experience and perks even when you fail.
Rogue-like games are often quite challenging and Rogue Stormers is one of the more difficult offerings I’ve tried. It’s similar to Risk of Rain in how you continually unlock new items and level up new heroes. You’ll find various secondary weapons and shields to bring you much needed firepower. Many come with with random secondary effects. My favorite was a mine-thrower that also sucked enemies around with a black hole effect.
The single player is fun, but four player multiplayer should be a major selling point. Unfortunately the co-op comes with some aggravating caveats. The difficulty reaches absurd levels as enemies take way too long to kill. The camera remains fixed on the host. Not enough loot spawns for everyone.
To BFG’s credit, they are aware of all the issues and already fixed a few of the more egregious bugs. You can find a list of known issues here. Hopefully they will be fixed soon. If you’re mainly interested in multiplayer it may be worth holding off until after a solid patch or two.
Rogue Stormers has not yet been rated by the ESRB. It’s a hyper-violent action game where enemies explode in a mess of blood. The tone is kept light-hearted and silly and enemies and characters are very cartoonish.
Rogue Stormers blends fast-paced run and gun shooting with randomized levels and enemies to create an infinitely replayable, and very challenging adventure. It’s a shame about the multiplayer because the single-player game is a lot of fun. There’s a solid foundation of great gameplay but a lot of niggling problems hold it back from a confident recommendation. Given Black Forest Games’ history, I’ve no doubt Rogue Stormers will be an excellent cooperative dungeon crawler after some further updates.