Streets of Rogue – tinyBuild PAX South Hands-On

Streets of Rogue, tinyBuild, PAX South

Indie publisher tinyBuild had a huge booth at PAX South 2017. While there were many games to check out, you could tell that the tinyBuild booth was one place you needed to be. I’d already gotten myself killed in Hello Neighborbut redeemed myself in party by “Bampf-ing” my way to success in Mr Shifty. Now it was time to crawl through some random dungeons in Streets of Rogue.

What is one of the few games the got me to check out? Let’s start off with the game Streets of Rogue. Streets of Rogue is a top-down Rogue-like that turns the formula on its head by being both multiplayer and real time. In practice it’s a bit like if Magicka were a procedural based dungeon crawler with forty or more different character classes. Where traditional Rogue-likes are turn-based, games allowing you time to think through your actions, Streets of Rogue is a frantic, chaotic battle to stay alive. Hopefully, this hasn’t scared you away. My time with the game I did enjoy so you’ll be sure to see a lot more.

The final game promises over forty different character classes; in the demo I played, I tried the Investment Banker, who gains extra boosts from all drugs but suffers during withdrawals (chemical, not financial); and the Soldier, who starts with a wide variety of weapons and explosives, but couldn’t do stealth if his life depended on it.

Streets of Rogue, tinyBuild

Character classes and inventory selection

During my session I was joined in the quests on the first level by a member of tinyBuild’s PR team. She was kind enough to point out that I could clear out a room by poisoning the air vents with the Investment Banker’s drug stash, and also helpfully punched my character in the face a few times when we “accidentally” attacked a civilian. I’m not sure I learned my lesson, but that’s about when I changed to the Soldier. The timing there was good, because our next quest on the floor was to open a safe. I cleared out the room by poisoning the air vents again, then blew open the locked door while my partner dealt with enemy opposition. We then opened the locked safe using the Soldier’s favorite lockpick – C4!

It may have been the build I was playing, but sometimes the action was a little too frantic for me. One of the nice things in traditional roguelikes is that you can take all the time you need to figure out which puddle of sprites is yours and which is the enemy. I had a hard time telling who I was supposed to punch, or shoot, or throw explosives at on several occasions, and in one particular “oops” moment, spent several seconds attacking my partner rather than the random enemy we should have been fighting. I guess I deserved the beating my character got later.

Streets of Rogue, tinyBuild, PAX South 2017

The game controls well with any supported Windows controllers, with the left analog stick controlling movement and the various buttons controlling actions. I didn’t see any tutorial for control mapping, but I would hope that the final version will allow for both remapping of controls for player preference, and a brief, skippable, tutorial option to walk new players through the game basics.

Streets of Rogue can definitely be played solo, but it truly shines as a local co-op game. Two players in a room will be chaotic, insane fun of the type that may make or possibly break a few friendships. Different classes offer unique synergy options, for instance, a Scientist class can use a skill on the Gorilla class to turn the Gorilla huge, and with the massive number of class options, it’s going to take quite some time to find a lot of the combinations. It’s a game tailor-made to play with friends, preferably ones you can shout at directly, but in a pinch, your VOIP client and your best internet friend will do.

Streets of Rogue is expected to be released in March, 2017.

Aaron is proof that while you can take a developer out of the game industry, it’s much harder to take the game industry out of a developer. When not at his day job, Aaron enjoys teaching Axis & Allies to his kids, writing sci-fi stories, playing classic space sims on Twitch, and riding around the American Midwest on his Harley.

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