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Rogue Stormers / 10th of May 2016

Given the co-operative emphasis for this 2D action-platformer with Rogue-like elements, we thought we’d do something a little bit different for its review, we were kindly granted multiple codes for it, so we decided take advantage of this and have everybody briefly sum up their own views on the game. And by “everybody”, I obviously mean only three of us, there was originally going to four, but someone lost a key, of course, I won’t name names here, but you’ll know soon enough who it was anyway. Alas, I digress. For those that don’t know, Rogue Stormers has been developed by Black Forest Games (the team behind Gianna Sisters: Twisted Dreams) with the express purpose of offering a 2D platform-shooter with enough RPG elements and manic six player co-op gameplay to create something that can offer near limitless re-playability. A bold venture one might think, but did the ambitious developer succeed though?
Greg Baxter
There's also the issue with the attempt to bring variety and failing, as the game currently has it so the player must progress through the game to unlock the rest of the Stormers, which might be fine if all of the gameplay variety was not so dependent on them. Once a character is chosen, your weapon and special power is fixed with a rare encounter of a not really useful sub-weapon if you find the prisoner in the level, I understand that the developers didn't want to copy Metal Slug and Gunstar Heroes wholesale with this new game, but I cannot help but feel the changing weapons aspect regardless of character may have helped this title, especially with its gunpowderpunk (or whatever the proper name for it would be) theme allowing ludicrous weapon ideas...instead I start with an assault rifle and some super ability that makes me shoot faster, I guess not all special abilities can be as rewarding and as nuanced as the melee combat of Gunstar Heroes.

For some levity to break my feedback, I guess there is a point to be made about the light tone with what feels like a world full of idiots from the illiterate mutants to the non-mutants that would rather poison themselves warning people of poison than using ink or something, such silly post Game Over newspapers are nice.
Jack McKay
When I first booted up Rogue Stormers I was greeted to what seemed like a spiritual successor to Orcs Must Die, but instead was treated to an insane mix of Contra, Borderlands and Rogue-likes. Seemingly set in the past (but with future technology… maybe it’s a Fantasy thing) you see yourself in control of a ‘Rogue Stormer’, one of many heavily armed soldiers who must travel through the 2D planes of this world and shoot everything in sight.

There is a choice between many characters (although you must unlock them as the story progresses), each character levels up and gains new skills, though they each have a singular ability that makes them unique. The first one for example was a Wolf-Man hybrid who was capable of increasing his rate of fire by an insane amount. Each level is seemingly randomly generated and the goal of each is to shoot every ‘goop’ monster (basically orcs) in sight and travel through this randomly created dungeon until you reach the boss.
I loved the visuals of the game, it blended a nice mix of cartoonish graphics and Warhammer levels of violence. Though I must say I did see some graphical glitches during my time playing, particularly with some platforms that decided to glitch into the 5th dimension at various points. I found the gameplay to be fast paced and fun, however I did find some of the enemies to be a bit bullet spongey and this game could seriously do with a proper double jump. The game’s focus is co-op, both online and couch which is a wonderful thing to see in a modern game, and so the levels are particularly difficult if you are going it alone. Dying once will completely end your campaign, making you start all over again which is quite frustrating, especially with character unlocks being tied to completing later levels.

Overall however I had a blast playing it. From the insane amount of things happening on the screen and the co-op focused blastathon fun with your friends feeling this game provided a good amount of entertainment, though I would recommend brining along some friends.
James Paton
Black Forest Games have already shown themselves to be a developer of some considerable pedigree, but there can be no doubting that Rogue Stormers has the potential to be their best effort to date, an engrossing mix of Rogue-like elements and classic 2D blasting action, only with the option of up to six player co-operative play thrown in for good measure. And whilst it may ape SNK’s Metal Slug as Greg pointed out, there’s certainly enough about it for it to stand on its own, it just needs a bit more refinement that’s all.

One of its biggest selling points is undoubtedly the random level generation which means that no two playthroughs will likely ever be the same, which, combined with the RPG elements and co-op play, means that Black Forest have crafted an experience that is, in effect, endlessly replayable. Using twin-stick controls (if you use a controller) the basics of the game are ridiculously easy to pick up, and it doesn’t take too long to spot that be dodged which gives the whole thing a wonderful fluidity as players leap out of the way and return fire as arenas begin to fill with stream after stream of plasma. Or well, it should have, if only the movement speed was just a little bit faster, as it is, Rogue Stormers moves at a pretty sedate pace, and sadly the issues don’t stop there.
Personally, I feel that the most basic enemies take too many hits to kill, which further slows the pace of the game to its detriment, had it been a tad snappier, it would surely find itself with an army of admirers, especially if they also changed the levelling system. At present, players generate XP which is added to a shared pool, when this is full, they level up and each player can select between two perks to add permanently onto their character. The beauty of the system is that everybody levels up at the same pace, the downside is that XP is dished out rather sparingly, dropped from only a selection of bested enemies as opposed to all of them, and this makes levelling up a rather drawn out affair.

I rather like the visual style, and whilst there were a few problems with the frame rate, it still holds up as a rather attractive looking game on the whole. There are multiple characters, each with their own unique primary and secondary attacks, though sadly they all – as Jack points out – lack that most basic function, the double jump, which would undoubtedly come in handy from time to time. Still, it’s an excellent attempt from Black Forest, and with a little more tweaking, they may just have something truly special here, at least as far as co-op play goes, it’s a bit of mammoth task to take on lone wolf style!
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