Best of Greenlight is a space where I’d like to talk about games that are deserving of your attention, rather than focus entirely on shady independent developers and their shady asset flips and shady copyright takedown notices. The best part about the current spotlight game is that you can play it right now: It is currently in the middle of a free weekend.
Streets of Rogue looks a lot like The Escapists, is developed by Matt Dabrowski, and is currently in early access on Steam. I know what you’re thinking, ‘another retro-inspired hardcore rogue-lite?’ I’m not deaf to your complaints, in fact I’m willing to admit that if it weren’t for the free weekend that I probably wouldn’t have given this a shot myself. What this package contains is a rather charming game, with tight controls, a variety of systems, and more. In short, it actually makes an effort to set itself apart.
The core of all dungeon crawling rogue-lites is pretty much the same: You go through a dungeon, you kill the things, you get loot, and you level up. Ultimately your character dies and you start it all over again, albeit with some sort of overarching progression system that gives you a little more to go on with each passing session. Streets of Rogue is more than just that, rather than populating the level with a host of angry creatures and letting you have at it, the game actually encourages some level of diplomacy, provided you’re willing to go along with it. If you’d rather just go through each level and massacre the whole map, more power to you.
First thing you’ll do before being thrown into the fray is choose your class for that session, each one with their own strengths, weaknesses, and starting items. The soldier for instance starts with a machine gun and regenerates health when it is under 20. The gorilla, meanwhile, has a very powerful attack but his stupid gorilla brain can’t talk English, and therefore can’t interact with characters, his stupid gorilla hands can’t use guns, scientists hate him and will attack on sight, and bartenders don’t want him in their bar (have you ever seen a gorilla pay his bar tab? Point made). A number of factions populate the world, from cops to the ongoing feud between the blahd and the crepe gangs, scientists, and all kinds of strange bedfellows.
But what makes the game pretty unique is that you’re not just going through a dungeon while fighting off a range of NPCs, rather each map is a procedurally generated zone consisting of a random assortment of characters, an assortment of tasks, and you are given pretty free reign to take on those tasks as you see fit. For example, you have to terminate a character who is hiding behind a locked door. You can knock on the door and see if they’ll come answer it, beat the door down with your fists (provided you’re strong enough), blow it open with a weapon, go outside and shatter the window so the NPC comes to investigate, use a lockpick on the door, use a charge on the door, or go to the outside ventilation system (if the building has one) and inject something into it to either kill or force out the inhabitants.
To give another angle to how the AI reacts to events, in another mission I was tasked with killing a scientist in his home, which had a big mean looking bouncer standing right outside the door. I blew a charge on the door bringing the bouncer down to very low health, which was enough for him to decide the job wasn’t worth it and quit right there on the spot. In another instance, I had to terminate a character being held prisoner in the local jail. After taking out the guard and using the computer to unlock the cell doors, I found my target in a fight with another prisoner. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who wanted this guy dead.
I find the fighting to be extremely satisfying in Streets of Rogue, every punch and whack met with a sickening crunch as your target gets knocked back, even more so when you manage to punch them so hard that they crash through a wall. With the AI system in place, it’s very easy in certain areas for small fights to break out into riots, with buildings exploding and people beating each other to death as the police show up and start blasting indiscriminately, resulting in some bystanders getting shot and either joining in or freaking out and running off. Companies love using the buzzword “the game is different every time you play!” and I think this may be one of the few times that that promise actually comes true.
Your currency for meta progression is chicken nuggets, which you’ll receive for completing missions which are required in order to progress to further levels. Chicken nuggets can be used to unlock traits, rewards, and more.
Since Streets of Rogue still has a day and change left on its free weekend, I highly suggest you give the game a try. Otherwise it sells for $14.99. If you do give Streets of Rogue a try, let us know what you think in the comments below.