By Marisa Alexander / October 27th, 2017
|Release Date||September 21st, 2017|
|Age Rating||None provided|
When a mobile developer moves on from mobile games and onto PC and console games, it’s interesting to see how well they do. QuantumSquid Interactive is one such developer and has since launched Pylon: Rogue to test their skills. The game is a rogue-like with a bit of humor and permadeath to keep players on their toes. Did QuantumSquid Interactive’s first major foray into PC pay off? Keep reading to find out.
Right away, there are a selection of characters to choose from. There are four characters, with three fighting styles each. A couple of styles can be unlocked but five of them are still being developed. Out of the available styles, however, each plays very differently. Styles range from Looticus’ sword and shield that is overall very balanced, to Ms. Underhoods simple bow style to Killyana’s risk vs reward dagger melee attacks.
Melee characters can attack up to four times in a single string, where they can charge up attacks at any time. This makes them very interesting to play since you can make different combos on what attacks you charge and don’t charge. In comparison, Ms. Underhood, the character with only ranged attacks, is exceptionally simple despite the game’s suggestion she is an intermediately difficult character. She can charge to fire more arrows in a spread but otherwise is extremely safe. Characters also have one defensive ability to avoid attacks ranging from dodging or be completely immune to attacks. All of them also have an ultimate ability that uses up a scroll per use.
After you pick a character and weapon, you are thrust into either the jungle or desert. Each area has individual sets of enemies as well as different kinds of layouts. The jungle features fewer and smaller areas but with waves of enemies. Meanwhile, the desert features larger areas with a single wave of enemies. Upon completing both, you are transported into the third and final area featuring many levels that are vast and feature multiple waves. In order to complete an area, you have to complete all levels by finding the exit and beating the boss. The jungle and desert have four levels, with the final area with merely two.
Within a level itself, you must traverse multiple rooms trying to maintain your health. The enemies themselves are randomized, with treasure chest contents and the location of the exit random as well. However, levels themselves are completely consistent in layout. The settlement and oasis will never have rooms in different locations. If you complete every room, you spawn a large treasure chest containing very valuable items. After you complete a level, the shop will reshuffle items on display for you to spend gems on.
Overall, I would say the content here is of high quality and exceptional design. Controls are very intuitive and have an excellent learning curve. The simplicity of the characters allows a good amount of room to build them the way you want. The difficulty is fair and comfortable, never feeling truly cheap. The game is very fun to play, and enemies are also fun to fight. That isn’t to say there aren’t some caveats though.
The largest issue is the lack of content itself. There are plenty of characters, styles, and items, but not very many levels themselves. There are ten levels in total where none of their layouts randomized. The order may be different but you must complete them all in order to complete the game. Even with the characters and items, the game could get stale very quickly on successive runs. This makes the world map underwhelming as it only serves to allow access to more treasure chests. If there were a couple more levels in each area where you just need to reach the boss instead of completing them all, this issue would be alleviated.
Level design is never horrible and actually is quite good for the most part. Most levels encourage exploration, with many diverging paths most of the time. It is more small things about it that are bothersome. The desert area has rooms that are gigantic, with small pockets of enemies. Due to their size, it is very tedious to go around and kill all the enemies. The final levels are also very linear, with the amount of rooms the desert has, and more waves per room than the jungle. They tend to drag on for too long as a result.
On technical issues, bugs are sparse but a couple are worth keeping in mind. The most prevalent are enemies spawning outside of rooms. I only had this happen in the final area and thankfully, I was able to kill them regardless. In comparison, however, the Necrodragon, the desert boss, can fly out of the arena and be rendered unkillable. I had to exit the run and come back to reset, thankfully without any progress lost. Killyana’s final charge attack is also somewhat bugged. At times it works as intended but other times the animation plays but nothing actually happens.
In truth, while the game is very fair and even forgiving with plenty of health pick-ups, the game’s balance can be rough. Killyana’s daggers are exceptionally underwhelming, in comparison to Looticus’ axe. The daggers have extremely little range, so Killyana is constantly surrounded and makes it very difficult to consistently do damage. Looticus’ axe may be slow but has actual reach and can innately stun, where all of his charge attacks can turn enemies into gold. The daggers have an underwhelming ultimate as well, with minimal damage with just a chance of instant death with guaranteed bleeding. The axe causes Looticus to spin, easily kills enemies consistently and turns them to gold.
As a result, this disparity makes Killyana much more difficult to play as, causing the innate difficult to soar to unreasonable amounts. Melee characters, in general, suffer from balance issues the most. Certain enemy groupings can cause them to take hits out of necessity in order to hit the enemy back. The issue is mainly caused by enemies attacking one by one, causing little time to strike back. Ms. Underhood by far has the easiest time due to her range and her cartwheel can easily be spammed in order to get to safety. In general, the game’s design favors range.
Luckily, this is the worst the game gets. Most of the issues are minor issues at worst. The lack of levels is the only major issue, particularly for the genre it aimed for, as rogue-likes tend to be diverse in level layouts. For the most part, everything was executed extraordinarily well. As their first foray outside of mobile games, QuantumSquid Interactive’s Pylon: Rogue is a very successful attempt. Priced at $15, the game can be recommended at full price or less, depending on what you desire out of a rogue-like. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the game.
Review copy provided by the publisher.