While there have been a few games in the past that have utilized a similar mechanic, I was intrigued when I first saw Rogue Spirit. The premise of an action combat focused game centering around taking control of enemies that you have defeated and using their skills in battle sounded interesting. I thought the premise had a lot of potential as you could switch between different enemy types in order to adjust to your current situation. While the game is kind of hard and could use a few tweaks, Rogue Spirit is a fun game that shows a lot of potential.
The Kingdom of Midra has been mostly peaceful for thousands of years. When the Demon King escapes from the prison that they were trapped in for many years, they quickly take over the kingdom killing or taking over everyone’s mind that stood in their way. With the kingdom now in turmoil the local monks bring “Ghost”, the spirit of the former Prince of Midra who was responsible for locking away the Demon King in the past, back in spirit form. Can Ghost defeat the Demon King’s forces to once again return peace to the kingdom?
For the most part I would classify Rogue Spirit as an action game. The goal of each level is to make your way to the exit which will bring you to the next level. Each level is randomly generated and there are a lot of enemies standing between you and the exit. A lot of the game revolves around the combat. You have a basic attack as well as a secondary attack. You can also dodge and parry enemy attacks. As you advance in the game you will also unlock a number of abilities that you can equip such as mines that freeze enemies as well as a familiar/creature that follows you around periodically helping you out.
In a lot of ways the combat feels similar to your typical action game. The combat is pretty quick, but parrying and dodging enemy attacks is important as well. You are regularly outnumbered and thus can’t go into a battle spamming your attacks. I generally enjoyed the combat. It could maybe use some minor tweaking here or there, but I generally thought the game’s controls worked quite well. The combat is fun where I think most fans of action games should enjoy it.
When you defeat enemies the game really starts to open up. Any enemy that you defeat can become a vessel that you can possess and use in combat. Each enemy has its own stats which vary between enemy types and even between enemies of the same type. Some bodies that you can possess will just be more powerful than others. Each type of enemy also has it own unique set of attacks. With the press of a button you can switch from your current body into another enemy that you have defeated.
The ability to possess enemies that you have defeated was honestly one of the things that initially intrigued me about Rogue Spirit. Based on just being released into Early Access today, I thought this mechanic works quite well. Switching between characters is really simple and kind of necessary as it can restore some of your health as well as give you a character that may be better suited towards your current challenge.
At this point most of the characters utilize melee attacks, but I was actually kind of surprised by the amount of variety between the different types of characters that you can take control off. There are similarities between the characters, but each fits a different type of playstyle. For example one melee character might utilize quicker attacks with a longer range, but each attack deals less damage. Others have slower attacks that deal more damage or have less range. Then there are the ranged characters like the Dancer who throws a number of daggers and then as a secondary attack can recall the daggers dealing damage to enemies as they are recalled to your character. This variety of characters allows you to prioritize characters that fit your playstyle better or your current situation. I am really excited to see where the game eventually takes this mechanic.
In addition to the combat there are also some stealth mechanics to the game. At any time you can switch to your ghost/spirit form. This allows you to move more freely around the environment. In this mode you will see the vision cone of all enemies. If you only enter their cones for short periods of time, you can sneak past enemies and avoid combat altogether.
I don’t really have a whole lot to say about the stealth mechanics as they basically entail avoiding the enemy’s vision. Outside of switching between physical and ghost form, this is not all that different from your typical stealth game. While there are quite a few situations where stealth isn’t much of an option, I probably should have took advantage of the mechanic more as it can cut down on the number of enemies that you have to fight. I generally found the mechanic to be fine, even if it doesn’t really do anything particularly original for a stealth game.
While I generally enjoyed the gameplay, I will say that I was kind of surprised by the game’s difficulty. While the combat is fast paced, it really isn’t a hack and slash game. In particular countering and dodging seems to be a pretty big element of the game as you are regularly outnumbered and can’t just overpower all of the enemies. Countering is important because it blocks the incoming damage as well as temporarily stuns the enemy. Generally I prefer to avoid enemy attacks by dodging, but since you only have a limited number of dodges before it has to recharge you can’t always use it when you want to. Even if you are good at countering and dodging though, you still need to try and avoid large groups of enemies since you can’t be surrounded if you want any chance of surviving. Maybe I was just playing the game wrong, but I had trouble making a lot of progress in the game as you have to defeat a lot of enemies in order to complete a level.
This is where the roguelike mechanics come into play. When you die you are sent back to the main hub area. In this area you can use the tokens and coins that you earned from your last run in order to purchase various permanent upgrades to help you do better on your next run. The game is designed where through your failures you can eventually increase the strength of your character which should make the game a little easier on future runs.
Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies may know that I am not generally the biggest fan of roguelikes. As someone who generally likes to make progress in games, I am not the biggest fan of having to replay the same sections time after time only making it gradually further each attempt. The one thing that usually offsets this is the fact that each failure allows you to increase the strength of your character making future runs easier. While this mechanic is present in Rogue Spirit, the problem is that it is kind of hard to acquire enough resources in one run to actually buy any of the upgrades. You need to use all of your resources before your next run or you lose them. Therefore I really couldn’t take advantage of my failures as I rarely could acquire enough resources to unlock any of the upgrades. I will admit that I am generally not the best at games that require pretty precise parrying/dodging, so others may find the game easier than I did. Rarely making any progress in the game though did get a little frustrating after a while.
As for the game’s overall atmosphere and story I think the game shows promise. The story is pretty limited at this point which isn’t that surprising. The game’s world is interesting though and I am intrigued to see where the developers take it. I thought the game’s visuals were quite good. Each time you enter a level it is randomly generated. While you can tell that the game uses the same elements just in different combinations, I think the locales still look quite good.
Ultimately I thought Rogue Spirit shows a lot of potential. The idea of playing as a spirit that possess the enemies that they defeat was a really interesting idea for this type of action game. I think it works quite well too. The variety of units that you can take control of differ quite a bit where you will likely find one that fits your playstyle best and you can always switch to a new one to suit your current predicament. The combat and general gameplay is pretty fun. I will say that it is kind of hard at this point though. You should expect to die quite a bit as you will have to be good at dodging/parrying enemy attacks if you want to defeat more than just a handful of enemies. Maybe it was just me but I found it to be pretty hard to gather enough resources in one run to purchase upgrades to improve my odds in future runs. This can lead to the game becoming a little frustrating at times when you die and gain little to help you get further on your next attempt.
My recommendation for Rogue Spirit mostly comes down to your thoughts on the game’s premise. If you hate roguelike games or aren’t that interested by the possession mechanic, I don’t know if Rogue Spirit will be for you. If the premise intrigues you though, the game shows enough potential that I would recommend looking into picking up Rogue Spirit.
Buy Rogue Spirit online: Steam
We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Kids With Sticks and 505 Games for the review copy of Rogue Spirit used for this preview. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to preview, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this preview. Receiving the preview copy for free had no impact on the content of this preview.