LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes

Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos Review (Nintendo Switch)

Game: Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos
Genre: Action, Adventure, Rogue-lite
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developer|Publisher: Heliocentric Studios | Team 17
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $19.99 | UK £15.99 | EU €19,99
Release Date: February 23rd, 2021

Review code provided with many thanks to Press Engine

Zelda Lite

The simple way to describe Rogue Heroes is what if Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past had rogue-lite elements. But even giving that description I feel sells Rogue Heroes a little short. If you’re looking for a meaty rogue-lite title with added exploration that can be enjoyed with up to four players then this a game well worth keeping an eye on. There’s a fun side quest for you in this review. See how many times I mention Zelda. 

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
What a nice welcoming

Familiar Territory 

Guess what? Evil is afoot in the land of Tasos and it’s up to a band of plucky heroes to grab a sword and defeat the Titans in the Great Dungeons to restore peace and tranquillity. When you start the game an overly long cutscene plays to tell you all about Tasos and what befalls it. It feels quite reminiscent of basically any Zelda game from the last 30 years. It’s not a new idea and to be honest it doesn’t really matter as the gameplay is by far the draw and highlight of this adventure. Once this cutscene is finished you jump straight into the action each time you boot up the game. 

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
Let’s pause to grow our crops

Rogue Heroes has a colourful retro style to its graphics. It’s a familiar feel once again to the Zelda series. Expect to see the usual bright green landscapes which we can’t call the Hyrule field. There’s a swamp area, lava location, heck even a graveyard that has a mausoleum you can investigate. There is a massive map to get lost in which most gamers will appreciate, but by being overly familiar it doesn’t feel particularly original or unique. There’s also a decent variety of enemies to encounter and defeat. From your usual blobs monsters to skeletons and giant spiders. It was enjoyable collecting the beasts in the games bestiary which you can fill out by smacking enemies with a book. Yes, you heard that right, you learn knowledge about an enemy by smacking them with knowledge.

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
Just going to chill in the tavern for a bit

Explore and Dungeon Dive

The gameplay feels like it can be broken down into two primary elements. Rogue lite dungeon raiding and exploration. You start with a standard hero but as you progress you will unlock new classes like Rangers, Knights and Mages all of whom have unique abilities and stats worth trying out. The game begins with a tutorial for each player. A clever idea added here is if a new player joins the game you’ll be offered to run the tutorial again for newbies, something incredibly handy for people not used to gaming.

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
The tutorial is great for new players dropping in

When you are dropped into the game the first goal is to start rebuilding the town. An incredibly efficient builder helps you achieve this and by building up the town you unlock more vendors and things to mess around with such as farming or fishing. The latter of which is not on the level of a farming sim but does act as a nice distraction if you fancy something other than dungeon crawling on a playthrough.

You soon learn the main goal of the game is to find the four dungeons and defeat the big bosses to get a big stone coin that will help you access the final area. These dungeons are hidden in a large open-world map that you need to explore to discover. The pace of this can feel a bit push/pull at times. Just like older top-down Zelda games, it’s not always clear where you need to go to progress. To find new dungeons you often need to complete a few side quests which involve some tedious back and forths to certain areas. It’s not overly frustrating but slows the pace. When you finally enter a dungeon though things move at a much faster and rewarding speed.

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
I feel like I know you

Chop the Bushes

The controls are responsive; you’ll spend most of your time slashing your sword and cutting bushes to find the coins and items within. The people in Tasos lose things far too easily. You can get pretty wealthy just running around cutting the foliage in this game. Of course, you use your sword to defeat your enemies as well. Fighting enemies is fun and simple. Most fights can be won with multiple swipes but some may require a little thought or use of another item.

The items you collect in this game are very reminiscent of the Zelda series. You have the bow and arrow, the grabber, bombs etc. There are quite a few of them and you can switch between them by using the shoulder buttons. However, the more you accumulate the longer it takes to find the item you want, which is a pain when you need something specific under time constraints (or a giant spider is about to eat you). It feels like a weapons wheel would have worked much better here.

Everything costs stamina in the game such as sword swings, swimming and using certain items. A small circle meter over your character will indicate how much you have. Initially, this is something you need to keep an eye on in certain battles particularly boss fights. But once you upgrade it becomes less of an issue.

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
You can’t see me in this log

Randomly Generated Dungeons

The actual dungeon rooms are randomly generated each time you attempt them across three floors. There is a nice mix of puzzles to complete and enemies to defeat. By clearing each room you can unlock chests which usually reward gems but sometimes you may be granted temporary buffs for your health or attack to make the experience a little easier.

The dungeons are very tough and quite punishing, but it was highly enjoyable seeing the variety of rooms on display, some being small single-screen areas to massive open areas. It took us several attempts to finish the first dungeon, but since we had powered up characters so significantly we actually completed the second dungeon on our first try making the difficulty feel a bit unbalanced. While each dungeon does have a decent variety of rooms, the more you replay the dungeons, the more you will see some repeats. What was a little weird is we sometimes encountered the exact same room with the same puzzles and enemies back to back, taking deja vu to a new level.

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
I have a bone to pick with you!

Collect the Gems

It’s all about collecting those gems! When you die or complete a dungeon you return to town to go on a spending spree. The gems can be used to build new houses as well as upgrade a huge amount of abilities. No, seriously you can pretty much upgrade everything in this game through a variety of skill trees from specific people in town. From your sword, individual items, health, stamina – the list is pretty endless. There’s always something to unlock and progression to be made even if a dungeon takes several attempts to complete. Be warned though, you must spend all your gems before retrying a dungeon because your counter resets to zero each attempt.

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
Some puzzles feel designed with co-op play in mind

Two Swords are Better Than One

The highlight of the experience by far was being able to share the game in a local co-op. Some of the dungeon rooms feel particularly designed for co-op play. One room for example has you throwing an orb to each player round the room to place it on a pedestal without dropping it. If a player dies in a dungeon you can pick up their skull (not as gory as it sounds) and place it on a special alter which will revive them. But while they wait they can semi assist you as a ghost by possessing pots and flinging them at enemies. These moments are well designed and quite memorable. I liked how the gems and health picked up will benefit all players meaning you don’t need to worry who picks up what. 

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
A question I always ask playing games

The Niggles

There’s so much to love about Rogue Heroes but we did encounter a fair few niggles the more we progressed. Niggles which appeared to reveal themselves more in co-op mode. When transitioning from one screen to the next sometimes my co-op partner would get stuck in walls or sort of just zip through them. Our stats just weren’t tracked in the games logbook, for example, the game says we cut down zero bushes despite clearly spending most of the game chopping for coins. On returning to town we went to visit the fisherman to craft a fishing rod only to notice his house had totally disappeared. We also had moments where one player appeared to be stuck on a different floor to the other player meaning they couldn’t assist in the room’s puzzles. The only fix appearing to be to leave the room and re-enter.

None of these issues surfaced when playing in solo mode and was not a particular hindrance. It does lead me to wonder how stable online co-op might be which I couldn’t test as I was unable to find any games to join. Something I did notice here was you sadly can’t take more than one player on the same console to play online, which is a darn shame for us who enjoy playing with friends online. The only way to get around this currently is if we both owned a Switch console and a copy of the game each.

LadiesGamers Rogue Heroes
There was once a Fisherman’s house here, its gone now

Get Set for Adventure

Overall, Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is a highly entertaining game that can be enjoyed alone but just feels a bit more alive if you’re able to play it in co-op. A few niggles and odd pacing issues pop up but don’t totally deter away from the entertainment on offer here. Whether you want to play in long or short bursts Rogue Heroes is a delightful adventure worth investing in. It sure takes a lot of inspiration from Zelda but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as entertaining. Nice job. 

If you want to try the game before you buy there’s a free demo available on the eShop. 

And for those who have completed their epic quest….. 8!

Final Verdict: I like it a lot

LadiesGamers Cyber-Shadow

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