Reviews - Updated on March 28, 2022

Have you ever dreamed of a game starring the devil himself, with Bloody Mary, the Headless Horseman, Lilith and Count Dracula as his minions? Then good (or rather, evil) welcome to the “bagel” Rogue Lords – one of the most stylish, original, complex and controversial clones of Slay the Spire.

devilish drama

However, the word “clone” is not entirely appropriate here – it is more likely to attract your attention. After all, formally Rogue Lords is not even a CCG. But the skills that our characters operate on work on the principle of cards – we can receive them as a reward for victories in battles, buy, exchange, improve from merchants and delete them, choosing others instead. Thus, each character actually forms his own deck of skills. Only small – a maximum of six or seven units. But flexible – you can often edit it, getting it, buying it, deleting it and improving it.

Rogue Lords Overview

There is always something to choose from.

The very principle of the game is reminiscent of the Spire. We see the map and plan our movement along it, deciding which path to take. Somewhere we are waiting for merchants, somewhere – random events, somewhere – turn-based battles with ordinary or elite bosses, for which relics are given as a reward, common to the entire party (and there are three fighters in it) or acting for a specific character.

Moreover, in addition to the schematic map, there is also a very real, three-dimensional one, on which you need to move the character, like in some RPG – at first it’s entertaining, but then it tires and takes time.

Rogue Lords Overview

You also have to overcome obstacles. Atmospheric, but not overly functional.

Devil Trials

However, the main ideological difference of Rogue Lords is the theme. We are playing here, as I said, for the bad guys, that is, for the devil and his followers. Something similar has already happened in Monster Train, but in the Nacon and Cyanide Studio project, there is a much more intelligible plot and, no matter how strange it may sound in relation to Dracula, more lively characters. The entire walkthrough is divided into act-books, during which the adherents of the devil are looking for artifacts that can restore the owner’s strength. And you also need to take revenge on Van Helsing, who, in fact, deprived Lucifer of these very powers, driving him back to Hell.

Rogue Lords Overview

The first meeting with Van Helsing will end in failure.

The search for each artifact is a separate adventure with its own intrigues, during which you need, for example, to bring to light and make vulnerable a character who is actually just an imitation of a person. Plus, we constantly encounter interesting random events. It is possible to drive a young demon hunter crazy or scare him to death, and then set him on his own; then turn into a maniac killer a woman who, in order to save her family, wanted to attack our fighters – we will direct her aggression towards the villagers.

Rogue Lords Overview

There are always many options.

In another situation, the devil is indignant that the executioner in one of the villages executes the condemned too quickly – they say, he is completely insolent, but how can he make them suffer? Yes, it sounds harsh, but in fact there is a lot of irony, parody and black humor – this is not a harsh and cold ode to death in the spirit of Iratus: Lord of the Dead, but rather a pop and funny parody in the spirit of the Addams Family. The style in Rogue Lords is appropriate.

Rogue Lords Overview

Why not the Devils family?

Many people are not saints either. So, our main opponents from the Divine Light sect, as it turns out, are experimenting on people, hanging the innocent, and so on – you can make everyone know about it. This will undermine their credibility, and if you free the same witch or kill the priest in front of everyone, then the level of horror will rise – the higher it is, the more likely it is to get especially powerful relics.

Rogue Lords Overview

Saints are often like this…

A positive outcome of events also gives bonuses in some locations – there will be discounts from a gloomy merchant with a scythe and in a black hoodie, we will get a bonus to the accumulation of souls (this is the main currency we spend on buying skills and relics), the chances of successfully completing events will increase. And vice versa, if everything ended in failure, then in some of the following regions we will receive penalties – and souls will be taken away, and health with mana from elite enemies will increase by 20% (although the rewards for winning will be cooler).

Rogue Lords Overview

Horror effects affect multiple areas on the same row.

In the service of the forces of evil

The likelihood of success in such events depends on which of the adepts we appoint to participate in them. Each, in addition to their biography, habits, levels of health / mana / damage, has such parameters as stealth, deceit, occultism, intimidation and temptation. The game tells us which of them will be needed in this event, we look at who has what is better developed, and we appoint a suitable candidate. True, it is not a fact that the options available to him to tempt someone, intimidate or secretly sneak past the guards will automatically lead to the desired result. Everything, like in large RPGs, depends on the level of the parameter, and the chances are determined as a percentage.

If successful, not only the adept himself will receive bonuses to the characteristics, but also, if you’re lucky, his colleagues – they say, they will be inspired by his actions. And the backlash will follow in case of failure.

Rogue Lords Overview

All this is called impact testing.

Initially, Dracula, the Headless Horseman and Bloody Mary are available to us. All of them are unique in their own way and use different tactics in battles. Bloody Mary, due to her wild thirst for blood, is able to deal damage only to those who have the least health, and her main skill casts a mirror on the enemy – as a result, all damage and negativity against other enemies will automatically fly to him. And Dracula, of course, heals by biting his opponents.

Then they are joined by the White Lady, Lilith and others, also unique and often already inanimate comrades. Each run traditionally works for metaprogress – even in case of failure, we accumulate experience, reach new levels, which opens up new adepts, skills and relics that will come across in the next passages.

Rogue Lords Overview

Battle arenas look stylish here.

Devilish Deception

If we talk about the gameplay features and innovations of Rogue Lords, then this is, first of all, a unique opportunity to radically change the situation with the help of the spirit of the devil. This is our main resource that determines the level of health – reducing it to zero in battle sends us to the lair of the devil to lick our wounds and prepare for a new sortie.

The same resource is used for unique focuses. With its help, having entered the devil mode, we can steal a positive status from the enemy right in the battle and drag it onto our character, and, on the contrary, give our negative one to our opponent. They allow you to completely scroll the health or mana bar of the enemy to zero. In the same way, it is allowed to treat their wards.

Rogue Lords Overview

In this difficult game, a very intelligible training.

And in events and trials, with the help of the spirit of the devil, we are free to increase the chances of their successful resolution. True, this all reduces its reserves, which, as you understand, is fraught. Therefore, it is important to look on the map and visit the Styx fountains in time, which restore part of the devilish spirit.

Well, in general, Rogue Lords has a lot of interesting mechanics and features. For example, in battles, it’s not enough just to reduce the enemy’s health level to zero – in this way he will only enter the “On the verge of death” state, but will get a chance to reanimate. Therefore, you need to have time to finish him off by inflicting any amount of damage. Some relics and skills play around with this mechanic and allow, for example, Dracula on the verge of death to automatically receive evasion on the next turn.

At the same time, it is not necessary to hit exactly on the opponent’s health – a mana bar has exactly the same value for the character’s life. Some of our adepts specialize specifically in dealing damage to the magical abilities of enemies.

Rogue Lords Overview

This lady is a thunderstorm of enemy magicians.

In addition, even a single use of any skill depletes it – you have to use special skills to recharge them. And we are free to deplete the skills of our opponents. All this turns battles into a difficult but interesting tactical event, you can rarely do something automatically – you always need to think and calculate.

Devilish contradictions

Why is this, as I said at the very beginning, a controversial “bagel”? First of all, many complain about the fierce randomness. I also encountered this when in one playthrough I accumulated as many as 70 units of the devilish spirit, and in the other at the same distance of the run, the maximum was only 40. Or when even with a 90% chance of success in the event, failures occurred twice at the most inopportune time or two moment. Some relics and skills seem to be less in demand than others, and it’s even more annoying when they drop out. Hence the accusations of over-complexity of the game.

Rogue Lords Overview

Skills can also be blocked.

But, as I started playing more carefully and planning my actions more carefully, I found a working build and went through the problem areas. That is, yes, there is always a place for randomness, and it is difficult to make everything equally useful. But at the same time, we are given many opportunities to control the situation. We need to correctly plan our movement around the map, paying attention to what kind of bonuses and penalties we get when visiting a particular location and whether it is worth participating in optional events.

You need to understand which of the adepts to pump, more often involving in events, which skills and who to improve/delete/buy, which relics to choose. Another tool for control is the choice of how to conduct the battle: by setting up an ambush, attacking in the open, or neutralizing the patrol. This affects the number of opponents, as well as what rewards we get – new souls, skills, or the ability to increase the level of horror in the surroundings.

Rogue Lords Overview

The game has been translated into Russian.

The main thing, perhaps, does not even matter, but the peculiarity of Rogue Lords is that, once having completed the game, you hardly want to do it again. Too dreary, stuffy is the passage and too long fights with some pumped bosses – the game relies not on the dynamics and variety of tactics in each race, but on the desire to go through and overcome, choosing the only working strategy for itself. Although the emergence of new adherents, of course, brings variety to the races.

Here is more about the main feature of the game.

Rogue Lords is an interesting, original and rich “roguelike”, which is worth trying at least once. Yes, it is really contradictory, ambiguous, there are questions about the balance and level of complexity. The game can be furious, but it cannot be called impassable or fiercely unfair. Although what kind of justice can there be in a “bagel”, where not only people, but also game mechanics are trying to deceive Count Dracula and the devil himself?

Pros: you can play as the devil and Dracula; many interesting mechanics; exciting tactical battles; challenging gameplay with original ideas; well-written stories and events; the audiovisual performance is beyond praise.

Cons: there are questions about the balance of complexity (it lacks more flexible settings); questions to random also arise.

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