Video Games focusing on randomly generated elements are quite interesting. They have elements shifting depending on your current run while also having unique gameplay systems to ensure every run feels rewarding. I love games like this personally, as the ones that feel ‘fair’ while also providing challenge show this style of gaming at it’s best.
Risk of Rain is one such example of a title within the Roguelike genre of gaming, having you explore hostile planets and fighting back various creatures on a 2D plain. Does this title from the two-man team at Hopoo Games offer a game that is one of the genre’s best?
The Gameplay & Design
Using one of many playable characters, you are tasked with exploring hostile planets and trying to survive after crash-landing. Through using your tools like various guns and items you find across your travels, you move on to different planets by finding a teleporter. This sounds quite simple, but there is a lot more to the game outside this simple concept.
Each character you control feels different and it drastically changes how you play the game. While your starting character has a lot of great tolls like a blaster and rolling ability, another has a powerful shotgun and shield to attack/fend off creatures. Once you master a characters moveset, it makes fending off hostile creatures really fun and rewarding. This is through fantastic controls that never suffer from input lag or other issues. Every button press and action ‘works’ and it made combat a joy to play.
Further enhancing the gameplay is the different items and tools you can gather through exploring the planet and using gold. Items offer various perks like super speed when moving for a while too repairing drones that follow you around to help fend off incoming creatures. Special Items can be used with the Select button and you can only hold ONE of them. But when you find a useful one, they are so fun to mess with; using a series of fireballs to attack a wave of creatures or heavily damage a giant boss feels fantastic.
You also have a leveling system in place, where every kill you deal leaves EXP orbs to collect. Gather enough of them and you can gain a level, which equates to you expanding your health bar. While you can extend your health and get regeneration abilities through getting the right items, having this system in place gives you an incentive to fight; the more creatures you defeat, the stronger you become. Gold is also dropped by defeated creatures and it lets you open chests or interact with objects that can spawn tools you can use.
The game’s gameplay and design is rock solid, but there is a catch to everything; the game’s items and tools are randomly generated. So while you might be on a great one during one playthrough, the next one with another character can drastically change. This happened to me a few times and that could be a problem for some…..if the game wasn’t designed well. Thanks to the great core gameplay, even if dealt a bad hand, you can still fight back and survive for a long time. This results in a game that is both always new thanks to randomization while also never being unfair.
Risk of Rain is a very strong game on a core gameplay and design level, which should be commended for the genre the game is part of. It’s very hard to nail that balance and Hopoo Games accomplishes that quite well here.
The Lasting Appeal
This game has single player and online support, with you having the ability to play runs with a buddy in co-op so that can help add replay value if want to experience the game in a new way. Playing through runs as new characters you can unlock will make things fresh as well due to differences in moveset and gameplay. To fully 100% Risk of Rain will take a while, as unlocking the entire playable cast and discovering every item will take quite some time.
A single run up to the final boss should take about two hours depending on your skill level but replaying the game over and over again will ensure you play this for a long time.
Presentation for Risk of Rain is quite simple graphically, as the game uses pixel art and limited texturing. But the game works with this style through having great animations and quality art direction. Every creature you encounter is creative, the various effects coming from your weapons look fantastic and the giant boss creatures you fight are imposing in scale. The art and effects work on display results in a simple looking game on the surface end up looking fantastic at various points.
Music greatly helps with this, as this title has a fantastic soundtrack. Very catchy beats using a number of instruments ensuring variety as you explore various alien worlds. One of my favorite tracks has to be ‘Surface Tension’ as it has such a great beat and melody, adding to the frantic combat you encounter when it plays.
Sound effects are also good, with weapons feeling rewarding to use thanks to sound alone. Creature grunts are also effective in setting the mood and general sound bites add impact to actions taken in the game world. One of the most impressive parts about the game is how it runs, as the PS Vita version runs at a locked 60FPS with native resolution. For a simple looking game, of course it should hit this…..but a lot of action happens on screen often. But that never hinders input lag or overall control, which is critical in surviving for longer runs. On PC and PS4 the runs perfectly as well.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
Risk of Rain is one of the better rouge-likes released on the PS Vita platform thus far thanks to quality game design, rewarding combat mechanics, tons of replay value through different characters and a very polished presentation holding the game together. If you love action games, platformers or survival games I can easily see you greatly enjoying this action-packed adventure.
This game was reviewing using the PS Vita version that I purchased on my own. You can also buy this for the PS4 and PC, with the PS4 version supporting cross-buy and cross-save features with the Vita version.