I thought I was done with roguelikes, but Streets of Rogue has pulled me back in. The game sprinkles gobs of Deus Ex DNA into the mix, resulting in a series of procedurally generated sandboxes where just about anything can happen. It’s fantastic.
Streets of Rogue takes the top-down roguelike antics of games like Binding of Isaac, Nuclear Throne and Enter The Gungeon and marries them to the multi-tiered mechanics of games like Deus Ex, System Shock and Dishonored. Sure, you’re a member of a resistance group with very high standards no matter what, but the rest is up to you. There are a ton of wacky character classes to choose from, and each procedurally generated “floor” is a small city in which you can freely roam, do missions, and wreak havoc.
On my first run, I picked a simple, straightforward soldier and shot everybody until they shot me too much and I died. After that, though, I dug into the game’s absolutely bonkers selection of classes, which ranges from a bartender who can defuse even the most explosive situations with a silver tongue, to a literal gorilla who punches enemies through walls, creating new avenues for progression and whatever the gorilla equivalent of espionage is.
Here’s a video of part of my gorilla run:
Oh yeah, the gorilla can rescue other gorillas, who will join him to cast off the yoke of servitude and take mankind’s place at the table. There are, however, downsides to being a gorilla, if you can believe it. First and foremost, you can’t talk, so you won’t be buying supplies from shopkeepers or bartenders. Gorillas also can’t use guns, because their fingers are too meaty. On the upside, though, you start out with three bananas, and if you eat them they create banana peels, which you can use to trip people.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, details are what make Streets of Rogue so promising.
Here’s part of another run I did as a gang member who could convince fellow gang members to team up with them, but who’d get attacked on sight by all members of a rival gang:
My favourite part of this one was when I beat back overwhelming odds by tossing down a boombox and turning a prison rescue mission into a dance party.
That’s still only the tip of the iceberg. Other classes include a thief who can rob everybody blind, an investment banker who has a potent cash reserve and an even more potent drug addiction (and who you unlock by murdering a ghost), a naked shapeshifter, a vampire, a werewolf, a wrestler, and so many more — each with their own powers and drawbacks.
Not content to rest on its laurels of already being batshit insane, Streets of Rogue also sometimes mixes things up with floor-specific events. One time, I stepped onto a floor expecting to saunter right on through, only to be informed that I had two minutes to disarm three bombs that would level the whole, er, level. Regrettably, I did not succeed.
Another time, I got chased around a floor by a slow-moving yet hyper-powerful robot. At one point, a bunch of rival gang members cornered me, and they began to close in. Panicking, I glanced at around my screen. My eyes landed on my mini-map. The robot was just off-screen. Suddenly, it became like one of those action movie scenes where the hero shouts, “WAIT DON’T,” to some unsuspecting baddies, because not even they deserve such a grim fate. The gang members unknowingly positioned themselves directly in the path of the robot’s laser, which could reduce even the most unshakable buildings to rubble. The gang members ended up saving my life when they meant to end it. They have my sincerest thanks, and also my most heartfelt schadenfreude.
All of which is to say, Streets of Rogue generates some wonderful stories, ones that are far more varied and interesting than you’d expect to find in this type of game. It just launched on Steam Early Access, but there’s already a remarkable amount of stuff in it, largely because it spent a year-and-a-half in open alpha before hitting Steam. The final version will likely be bigger and better, but this game is already well worth your time. Go grab it, and then share some of your stories with me.