ScourgeBringer is an action platformer rogue-like developed by Flying Oak Games and published by Dear Villagers for the PC. It’s the post-apocalypse, and the hopes to save humanity have been placed squarely on your shoulders. So, you have to fight against the…well, the game is still in Early Access, so what’s going on is still a bit of a mystery. However, as many rogue-likes go, story is little more than set dressing for the gameplay. This game sets its sights pretty high, comparing itself to Dead Cells and Celeste. Pretty stand out games in their respective genres. To my surprise, it’s a comparison that is pretty apt.
If you’ve played Dead Cells to any substantial degree, there’s a similar sort of feeling you get when you have a good run going in ScourgeBringer. When you have good weapons, and you’re just zipping through enemies effortlessly. A really nice flow. ScourgeBringer distills that specific feeling and makes an entire game around it. Your moveset consists of an attack, a heavy attack, a gun, a jump, a dash, and that’s basically it. Mobility is a big feature of this game, so wall jumping is here as well. Very rarely are enemies just on the ground, the majority of them are flying through the air. That’s no big deal for you, as your dash can maneuver you through the air as well. Attacking enemies also causes you to basically “stick” to them, and after you’ve dealt with one enemy, you can dash over to the next one.
You can clear entire rooms of enemies without ever touching the ground. The heavy attack is pretty weird, as it doesn’t do what you might think it does. It’s mainly for stunning enemies, it doesn’t actually do much damage. Hitting an enemy with it makes them stagger a bit, but if you hit them right before they attack, you can stun them, allowing you to go to town on them. Your gun is your strongest weapon, and as such, is limited by ammo. Knowing when to use your gun to take out enemies is gonna be key to surviving, because this game doesn’t pull any punches. Rooms often lock you in with no way out other than killing everything in it, and you die very easily. You’ll probably die a handful of times before ever making it to the first boss.
Fortunately, there’s some permanent upgrades you can unlock that will alleviate some of the difficulty and even expand your moveset. One upgrade gives you an attack that charges up over time, and when it’s fully charged, it inflicts massive damage on everything in the room. I feel like perhaps the game is a bit overly difficult though, the biggest thing being that your dash doesn’t have invincibility frames. However, I do appreciate the game not having a “panic button”, so to speak, that gets you out of danger immediately. Giving you enough mobility to just avoid enemies without that can help keep the game fair. The skill tree is very simple right now, with only a few linear branches. There’s not much decision making required, simply unlocking the next skill available to you is as much as there is at this point. Hopefully as the game progresses through development, we get some more interesting upgrade paths.
There’s three boss fights in the game right now, and all of them are a lot of fun and also very difficult. I feel like many rogue-like bosses tend to rely a bit too much on having a decent assortment of items and being able to just deal with them as fast as possible. Dead Cells is like this a lot, even some of its more fun boss fights can be beaten in seconds with a good setup. There’s no such easy way out here though. You might find a really powerful gun, but ammo being very limited means you still have to learn the fights.
ScourgeBringer is in very early access, only having just launched a couple months ago. As such, there’s not a whole lot of content and I’m sure there’s balancing and tweaks that need to be made as well. Still, this is about as rock solid foundation as one could hope for. It feels fun to play immediately, which is pretty important for rogue-likes. I’m definitely gonna be looking forward to seeing how this game develops.