Review: Rogue Islands

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Story and Gameplay

Upon first glance Rogue Islands appears to be yet another tired Minecraft-esque style clone that has absolutely flooded not only some spaces of major commercial games but most definitely the ever increasing universe of indie titles. Luckily, with Islands, this couldn't be further from the truth. Though the game is extremely light on story elements, it does involve nightmares, hopping from island to island with some fercious baddies to stop you along your path. These baddies appear constantly and can be quite annoying, more of that later. Gameplay-wise, I will skip the suspense and say that Islands much more an action game than an actual exploratory builder style title even though those elements do exist.

In trying to summarize Rogue Islands procedural generated worlds, plan to do A LOT of shooting and dodging enemies, some white knuckled exploring, and a bit of survival and crafting, in that exact order. This is not a relaxing, low key game world. There are constant threats of nasty enemies around and for me, that really killed the mood a lot of the time. I'd rather explore the worlds, chip away at minerals, materials, and secrets instead of constantly dying and starting back at the beginning of the island. Different strokes for different folks but you have been warned that this game is more for action junkies than builders and explorers.

  Plan to do a whole lot of shooting.. and even more dying.

Plan to do a whole lot of shooting.. and even more dying.

Graphics and Sound

The chunky, pixelated worlds featured in Islands are quite gorgeous and in most cases, work extremely well for the game to give it that unique look whilst also drawing in that Minecraft crowd. Even more appealing is the lighting, spell, and glow type effects as seen in the 4K screenshots above. There are plenty of gorgeous moments while some of the plants and ground cover just look chintzy. Overall, I loved the graphical design for being familiar yet unique in the same breath.

Sound is also a highlight as the music is a variety of light, whimsical fare with some deep and brooding tracks that are overall, fantastic. The sound effects are a mix of classic 8-bit style bleeps, blips, and blops with that give the title a sweet retro fill. No complaints but a lot of praise in the sound department from me.

  The intro story may be vague but you get into the action quick. A little too quick for some.

The intro story may be vague but you get into the action quick. A little too quick for some.

Replayability

Rogue Islands is chock full of content and with the islands themselves being procedural generated, there is always a ton of variety level wise. On top of this variety, this are a lot of possibilities of how you can reach your end goals and proceed to the next island whether it be more of a stealth and dodging style or more head on, trying to kill every enemy before proceeding method. Either way, if you dig the gameplay, the game can last you a long, long time.

What Could Be Better

Now, for all the things that Islands does right, I feel that the beginning level of the game is not the intro that anyone really wants. Even though I'm always up for a challenge as the Dark Souls series is one of my faves, this is a game about crafting and exploring but that tends to be overshadowed by constant enemy fire. It's hard to get engaged into a fascinating world like this when you are constantly bombarded with enemies that can attack you from practically across the other side of the island and your weapons are so weak, it takes dozens of shots to even kill a basic enemy. I found that challenge, risk, and reward were wrought with way more frustration than I ever planned for. Underneath a gorgeous graphical shell, a pleasing audio experience, and unique story lies a sweet game buried by a head scratching design decision on the enemy front. Perhaps an intro level or difficulty that isn't so daunting to get players hooked?

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Verdict

If you can't tell by now, I'm extremely split on Rogue Islands as a whole. I love everything about the game except for the aforementioned constant and frequent enemy bombardment hindering my exploration and experimentation. If you look at the game more as an action style shooter with other elements mixed in, you will most likely have a great time. For as much as I wanted to love this game, I was more frustrated than I should have been. If you can get past those aspects, this is a gorgeous little title in so many other ways.