Roguelikes remain pretty popular in gaming, especially when done right. “One more run” always has a way of turning into several more.
Rogue Explorer is the latest in the genre, and it too maintains that “one more run” addiction. It also carries with a much more casual feeling.
Is Rogue Explorer worth your money and time? Read on to find out in our review of the new title available now on PS5, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Rogue Explorer (PS5 [Reviewed], PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC)
Developer: ZOO Corporation, EastAsiaSoft
Released: August 18, 2021 (consoles), March 11, 2021 (PC)
ESRB Rating: E – Everyone
Rogue Explorer features 10 dungeons, each with a different amount of layers and degree of challenge. Make it to the final layer of a dungeon, and you get a boss battle.
The dungeons are maze like “Metroidvania” style in 2D and features a lot of easy platforming. Later dungeons introduce things like spikes and moving sawblades that will make platforming a little more difficult.
As you work your way through the maze to get to the portal at the end that takes you to next layer, you’ll come across a variety of enemies with different attacks and speeds. Most are pretty easy to combat.
While the game tells you which direction to go, and has a handy map displayed on the screen that can even show if you a way you are going is a dead-end, the dungeons are worth exploring.
Scattered around the layers are treasure chests which can contain new weapons, coins, health potions, and items needed for crafting.
Within a dungeon run, your character will gain experience points when you kill enemies. Gain enough XP and you’ll level up. Leveling up increases your total HP for the run, and each time you level up you get to select from three random upgrade choices.
It’s worth a killing as many enemies as you can because some of the upgrades will make a run significantly easier.
There’s one that gives you a double primary attack, so instead of having one primary weapon you have two. One gives you a double jump. Increased attack speed, chance to kill non-bosses in one hit, and so on. There’s even one that grants you more XP, and I suggest grabbing that when it is offered just because will make you level faster.
If you fail a dungeon, or complete it, all those upgrades and character levels go away. Completion of fail you keep all the gold and items you obtained during a run.
You can spend your gold in the crafting menu, enhancing your equipment, and by purchasing ability cards. The ability cards are permanent upgrades to your character across all runs. There’s a decent amount of them, but most are just more HP.
Some abilities do give you permanent skills that otherwise were random upgrades during a run after leveling up. Rolling Attack being an example of a skill that can become permanent. I don’t have enough gold currently to buy all abilities to know what others might exist.
Rogue Explorer doesn’t feature the depth or difficulty of say Rogue Legacy or Spelunky, but it does have a moderately high fun factor. Hardcore fans of the genre will definitely find it too easy, without even needing to invest too much in ability/passive unlocks or leveling up equipment.
With that said, the ease of play and the ability to unlock buffs and get better gear to make additional runs easier makes for a fun session that will keep you coming back for a little while.
There’s a charm to the game that offsets the lack of difficulty. And to clarify, saying the game is easy doesn’t mean it’s a complete cakewalk. Some of the dungeons are more difficult and require good timing. So the difficulty does ramp up.
If you’re a trophy or achievement hunter, well this is an easy platinum that won’t take two hours to get.
While Rogue Explorer isn’t a roguelike that you’ll pump hundreds of hours into, there is a lot of fun to be had and a high replayability factor.
With an MSRP of $7.99, Rogue Explorer is an easy recommendation for any fan of the genre.
* A digital code was provided by the publisher for review.