DFTG Reviews Pylon: Rogue – “An Unforgiving Roguelike With a Side of Fun”
Pylon: Rogue has been hacking and slashing its way through Early Access on Steam since August 2016, only just recently reaching full release status. Roguelikes are becoming a dime a dozen in this day and age of gaming, so standing out is becoming increasingly more difficult. That’s exactly how QuantumSquid Interactive’s Pylon: Rogue plays out. Fighting waves of enemies in various environments isn’t so bad, but when you toss in scarce health items, close-quarters combat, unavoidable damage, and permadeath, it becomes an unforgiving roguelike with a side of fun. Unfortunately, that fun only leads to more death. Before we get started, let’s check out the release trailer:
As it is with other titles in the genre, Pylon: Rogue features procedurally generated items and maps to ensure no two runs are the same. This adds to the replay value in spades while simultaneously making one want to pull their hair out. Then again, that’s roguelikes. However, this title also contains a few RPG aspects, with character progression being the most prominent. Players collect or purchase powerful items that aid in their efforts to defeat the hordes of monsters. Power-ups such as the Non-Organic Orange(“it’s basically weaponized citrus”), Pocket Sand, and so much more can be collected through various drops or by picking them up at Picador’s Parish, the in-game store. You’ll be able to purchase these glorious items with gems, which are obtained through loot chests, slaying enemies, and some good old fashioned pottery smashing.
There are four characters that you’ll be using to smash said pottery, one of which remains locked until the final boss is defeated. Each has a unique play style that is sure to fit many gamers’ needs. Looticus Maximus is The Moneydin, an every-hero that turns everything to gold, except not. While this character does see a bump in gems, it’s not a staggering amount. Three different loadouts are available for Looticus – sword and shield, dual spiked shields, or a giant golden axe. The game does say he is for beginners, but a few of his mechanics beg to differ. In his sword/shield configuration, when applying a healthy dose of defense, the character slows down while holding up his shield. While this does deflect enemies, it becomes difficult to get out of a sticky situation.
Next up is Rokk, The Rock. The game describes him as “A pile of rocks with just enough consciousness to be dangerous,” and this is accurate. Reminiscent of barbaric boulders before him, Rokk is possibly the most fun character to play as in Pylon: Rogue. Spamming the enemy with a defensive tuck-and-roll is just as enjoyable as one might imagine. This character’s premise is pain, and it delivers tenfold. While he is the slowest of the group, he makes up for it by having tons of health. However, he doesn’t seem to come by as many gems as the other characters. There would be times after completing a zone that I would barely have enough gems to buy a small heart container, which only fills about 10% of the meter. It got frustrating, but it was manageable. Rokk also has three loadouts – rock, ice rock(coming soon), and fire rock(unlocked with the defeat of the Jungle Boss).
The third character is Ms. Underhood, The Sureshot. Armed with a bow and arrow, this combatant is likely the best for longevity. Not just because she has a ranged attack, but also because her play style seems to fair better against the enemies. Much akin to Rokk, the name of the game is to keep rolling, giving you enough time and distance to shower the enemy with arrows. Lather, rinse, repeat. It was a bit tricky to get the hang of Ms. Underhood at first, but after finally reaching the first boss with her and nobody else, I knew she was my character. She’s agile, has the long range, and seemingly has better luck with the random drops and gems. Two of the three loadouts for her are still in the works, but the recurve bow she sports does just fine.
After tackling the final boss, you will unlock the fourth playable character: Killyana, The Stabstress. Her play style is very quick and very precise. Well, as precise as the game will allow. Take the in-your-face action from Looticus and combine it with the agility and awesomeness of Ms. Underhood and you’ve got Killyana, a stabbing machine that runs on premium stab-ohol. She’s even got a move not unlike that of Overwatch‘s Reaper. They both do seem to enjoy death an awful lot.
Each character has an ultimate ability that requires a scroll to perform the devastating attack. Players are allowed to hold four scrolls at one time, but more can be picked up in the shop or from random drops. Unfortunately, drops are not dependable at all. Luck seemingly determines whether you are going to survive a zone or not. Sure, you’re responsible for your actions, but unavoidable damage is present, and when you are on your last breath and a loot chest gives you another scroll(even though yours is full), it is rage-inducing. Hearts are scarce throughout each zone, making things that much more difficult.
And therein lies the rub. Dropping too much health would make the game easy, and that wouldn’t be fun. After all, this is a roguelike. It’s meant to be challenging. Unfortunately, that difficulty comes at the price of enjoyment while playing Pylon: Rogue. By no means does it ruin the game, but it certainly does put a little black rain cloud over it. In order to have any kind of fun, you have to do just as the game says and “Pay no attention to this little guy.” Here’s a bit of concept art that you can pay attention to:
As far as everything else goes, the visuals are outstanding. Beginning with the world map that the path to success is laid out on, the highly detailed environments really suck you into the game and make you feel as if you are right there being swarmed by the enemy. Speaking of which, the monsters in Pylon: Rogue don’t play around. Ranging from small flying insects to giant sand worms and other creatures, underestimating any of them would be a mistake. The game is difficult enough as it is – no need to skip into battle with an ego. The title’s sound design is quite delightful as well. A fitting soundtrack remains in the background as you hear every little thing happening around you. Thankfully, some audio cues even help with letting you know an enemy is about to attack.
For the most part, mechanics are pretty solid. Each zone contains a handful of rooms that players will hack, slash, and dodge their way through. Sometimes your defense doesn’t seem to block when maybe it should have, and attacking can be a bit stiff for the melee characters, but other than that, it’s pretty smooth sailing. Keyboard/mouse and controller support are offered. I chose the former to take on the monsters that rule the zones. Using a traditional WASD layout combined with a right and left click spamfest, action is aplenty. Keys can be remapped within the settings, so players can do what works best for them.
There’s no story being told in Pylon: Rogue. At least, not on its surface. It would seem that each of the characters might have a tale as to how they came to be stuck in monster-ridden labyrinths, but QuantumSquid isn’t giving up the goods. That’s, of course, if there are any. Until then – hack, dodge, slash, die, repeat.
Bottom Line →
There are a few bumps along the way, but none of them are complete deal breakers. After all, what’s a roguelike without a bit of frustration? At its core, the game is fun – it’s just incredibly difficult, which can lead to anger and/or boredom. QuantumSquid Interactive is mighty active with the community, so I expect them to be vigilant in ensuring the success of Pylon: Rogue moving forward. In the meantime, gamers can get their hands on the roguelike ARPG on Steam for $14.99. If you are a fan of annihilating hordes of enemies, not knowing when your next health fix will be, being in a constant state of both joy and anger, and dying a lot, this game just might be for you.
Eric Garrett951 Posts
Eric is an editor and writer for Don't Feed the Gamers. When he is not staring at a computer screen filled with text, he is usually staring at a computer screen filled with controllable animations. Today's youth call this gaming. He also likes to shoot things. With a camera, of course.