Genre: Action, Arcade, Platformer, Roguelite
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PC, and Xbox One)
Developer|Publisher: Flying Oak | FutureFriends Games
Age Rating: EU 12+ | US Teen
Price: UK £15.29 | EU € 16,99 | US $16.99
Release Date: October 21st 2020
Review code provided with many thanks to FutureFriends Games
Beware The Stones
The ScourgeBringer is a nasty giant stone that has descended from the heavens and wreaked all sorts of post apocalyptic nastiness onto the world. The only hope for humanity is Kyhra, a girl well versed in the use of a sword and sidearms. She enters the stone monolith where many folk have travelled before but failed in a attempt to finally stop the destruction to the world. Can everything go back to the way things were, which may include sitting in the sunshine and having a coffee. Who knows?
Don’t Mess With Kyhra
The premise of the game is simple and to the point. Scourgebringer is presented in detailed pixel graphics providing a bright yet dark feel to the varied environments that you visit. You’ll encounter a wide variety of floating beasties, giant mechanical bosses and even sub bosses as you attempt to slash and sometimes shoot your way to victory. Kyhra has a great design. Her white pixelated hair looks like an enormous afro which I was totally onboard with. In practice it’s more fiery and dramatic as she dashes around with the samurai looking sword. Wherever my imagination decided to venture it was a joy to play as her.
The Rogue Lite Feel
Your goal of each randomly generated level is to find one (sometimes more) sub bosses to defeat which will then unlock the final boss room. As you travel from room to room you will usually encounter a few waves of enemies that need sorting out before moving onto the next. Once enemies are defeated you’re awarded with blood points which you can spend at merchants to gain back health, buy weapons or unlock some abilities. In every level there is an alter which will grant a new passive ability to help you on your quest, this may be more item drops or reduced health to the enemies. You usually get to choose from three and your choice may just help your chances of survival. A handy map will help you get your bearings. Marking important areas of interest and allows you fast travel to rooms already visited (once you have unlocked that ability of course). It’s the familiar rogue lite formula but it suits Scourgebringer’s design well and works whether you want to attempt a quick run or sit down for many.
Sword Fight in the Air
Scourgebringer plays as a mixture of platforming and combat. Kyhra has quite the ability to jump and attack enemies, then dash and attack another one over and over until the room is cleared. At times it feels like you’re playing in zero gravity. It’s possible to clear a room of enemies and never touch the floor. Your main weapon to achieve this is your sword which has two attacks. The first one is a standard slash which when executed will keep you floating in mid air while pinned to your targeted enemy. The second is a stun move which becomes particularly handy when a ‘!’ hovers over a enemies head. Use this at the correct time and it will leave enemies and bosses vulnerable to damage. You also have a dash move which helps you escape danger and move to a desired target quicker. Combining all of the above together makes for some entertaining and satisfying combat.
Additionally thrown into the mix is the use of a side arm which you can use for ranged attacks. I actually often forgot to use this as it didn’t seem to compliment the melee combat as well. The default controls map the use of the gun to one of the shoulder buttons but in the options you are able to map the controls however you like. This includes using the gun with the right analogue stick. While still tricky to use when the gameplay is fast and frantic, it suited my style better and it’s excellent that the developers provide this as a option. The controls are tight and I didn’t encounter any slowdown in the gameplay either in handheld or TV modes. This is a impressive feat considering how many enemies sometimes fill the screen.
Once death does come, and it will. You can spend your ability points (dropped by boss fights) on a skill tree which unlocks new abilities as well as buffs up various skills. If you’re not used to the rogue lite song and dance yet it essentially makes future runs a little more manageable while providing some new moves to keep the game feeling fresh each time.
Prepare to Fail
Being a rogue lite, Scourgebringer is of course a very challenging game. While fun to control you really need to have exceptional hand eye co-ordination to succeed. Enemies can be malicious throwing various projectiles at you in great numbers. It became a fast mix of striking at the right time and knowing when to dash away. While I found enemies quite manageable the difficulty spikes on boss encounters. Often these require you to avoid danger and stunning the boss at the right moment. This felt much slower in pace to how it is during the rooms with regular enemies where things feel much more fast and fluid.
A Helping Hand
If you find things too hard in Scourgebringer, the developers did include some helpful accessible options. These include slowing the game down entirely with a percentage slider should you find things going to fast or allowing you to hold the attack button rather than rapidly press it. If it’s all just too hard you can switch on invulnerability. Better still, these options can be adjusted at any time during gameplay so if you just need them for that tough boss fight you can have it. The developers let you play the game the way you want and there’s no handicap to the gameplay experience. You’ll get to enjoy the game just like everyone that chooses to play on the standard setting.
Written in Stone
Scourgebringer is a challenging rogue lite with fun gameplay. The mix of sword play and air dashing makes for an entertaining mix of gameplay to be enjoyed by rogue lite fans. If you’ve ever been scared away by the difficulty of these games the accessibility options available here may just help you get started.
A nice treat for Switch that I can easily see myself revisiting again and again until a giant monolith descends from the heavens and starts the apocalypse… Wait what?
Final Verdict: I like it a lot