Posts Tagged ‘PC Game Review’

Rogue Legacy: One of the Most Important Stories of 2013

roguelegacyRogue Legacy. Have you heard of it? Likely not.

An independent video game released by Cellar Door Games (consisting of brothers Kenny and Teddy Lee), Rogue Legacy is, for lack of a better descriptor, a ball-buster of a game. Taking inspiration from both platforming titles and the classic roguelike genre, your goal as a player is to traverse a procedurally generated castle that changes its internal shape each time that it is entered. But we’re not here to talk about game mechanics, we’re here to talk about story.

Truth be told, the greatest tales throughout human history have consisted of very little dialogue, with feats and action being the backdrop for the narrative. Rogue Legacy brings us an incredibly sad tale, one steeped in many rich narrative concepts: family, responsibility, betrayal, sacrifice, and bloodshed.

The narrative of Rogue Legacy begins with a knight by the name of Johannes entering the shapeshifting Castle Hamson in search of a purported cure to heal his father the King (and your ancestor) of a grave illness. Johannes enters the castle and does not return. And this is where your many, many stories begin.

Rogue Legacy has an incredibly impactful story that could only be told through one of its core game mechanic: Permanent death and genetics.

Each time you enter the castle to attempt to conquer it and discover the secret that has doomed your family line, a brand new character is created. They have a name, they have their own unique way of doing things (each character has a chosen discipline, such as being a barbarian, a warrior, a mage, etc). But it’s more than just that; they have their own unique flaws. Sometimes a character will have been inflicted with irritable bowel syndrome, dyslexia, stereoblindness, and many more possible traits from birth.

The Brothers Lee have done something incredible here: For all that Rogue Legacy is rather silly, the characters that you play are very realistic depictions of humans in this aspect. Flawed people.

rl1

Rogue Legacy is, if anything, a beautiful depiction of the classic Shakespearean comedy and tragedy. It very frequently pokes fun at itself, but if we peel back the layers and really look at the narrative, it is anything but funny. For example, there are only two possible outcomes of each attempt to enter the castle with a new child descended from the original bloodline: Victory, or death. More often than not, that outcome WILL be death.

What drives a man (or woman) to walk into such a scenario, knowing that if they do not succeed, they will die and have little left behind to herald their existence? Family duty, perhaps. Honor. Maybe the pursuit of answers (of which you will find many as you traverse the castle, uncovering pieces of the journal that Johannes left behind in search of the cure). But let’s really examine the motivations of these characters, not from a game mechanic perspective, but from a narrative one. Let us look at Rogue Legacy from the point of view of one of the descendants of Johannes:

“When I was a child, my father left us. To conquer what has been in so far, unconquerable. The Castle Hamson, the place where our ancestor had vanished to ages ago. Our family has been very poor for a long time, all of our wealth taken away when Johannes made a deal with the demon Charon in pursuit of his… justly goal.

Father told me of when he was a child and his father left for Hamson, to at last rid us of this accursed fate and to bring closure to our sordid history. Grandpa failed and didn’t come back. Now that Father was of age, he too was going to attempt to finish the unfinishable. I was afraid. I didn’t want to lose my father.  He told me not to worry, patting me on my head as he slipped his helmet upon his head, and told me that he would be the one to break this neverending cycle. He smiled down at me, and I smiled back up at him. I wanted to believe him, I truly did, but I knew it was a lie. I think he did too.

He never came home.

The heartbreak was painful… and yet, it was expected. Over the past several hundred years, every family head has tried, and failed to stop this seemingly neverending cycle of loss. And now it’s my turn.”

Now THAT is a story.

The most interesting thing about the narrative of Rogue Legacy is that when you finish the game and discover the secret of the castle and look back over things…  Dozens, if not hundreds of unique people have been killed, all in the name of what? Was their unique life a justifiable cost for this? At the end of the day, when you as the player are making your return, you don’t feel satisified and vindicated. Instead you are left with the overwhelming feeling of a pyrrhic victory. The Brothers Lee here have tackled some pretty heavy issues in their story that few people have taken the time to explore, and did so in a completely transparent way.

An entire, multi-generational epic of sorrow told through only a few tiny notes.Rogue Legacy shows us that sometimes the best stories are not told to us, but felt and experienced.

I suggest you pick it up

~Oliver

Oliver is also the author of Between Him and Her, where he originally posted this article.

Multi-Platform Game Review: Organ Trail

Organ-trail-logoPublished by: The Men Who Wear Many Hats
Available for: iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Linux and Steam
Reviews on: PC and Android
Genre: Choose-your-own-adventure Zombie survival
Released: Jan. 10, 2013

Depending on your age, you may remember playing the Sierra Games classic, Oregon Trail, at school. If you were really lucky, and your parents had a lot of money, you got to play it on an Apple II at home. Personally, I remember playing the game a lot at school and only getting to the end once. It was a hard game filled with a lot of hard choices for a 10-year-old. But it’s a game we look back on fondly.

“NAME died of dysentery” is probably one of the most common quotes people give from the game.

If you miss the game, or just want to revisit the classic, you can download it and play it through Chrome here: http://www.virtualapple.org/oregontraildisk.html

Organ-trail-8But if you want to see the modern take on the game, which is what this article is about, check out Organ Trail – a morbid twist on the iconic Oregon Trail game. Produced by The Men Who Wear Many Hats and released Jan. 10, 2013, the game is available for purchase, download and play via iOS, Android, PC, Mac, Linux and Steam. You can play a flash version of their game, for free, here: http://hatsproductions.com/organtrail.html

They describe the game as “a retro zombie survival game. Travel westward in a station wagon with 4 of your friends, scavenging for supplies and fending off the undead; Faithfully recreated it as if it were on the Apple 2. Packed full of zombie mechanics, themes and references; this is a must have for any zombie survival fans.”

I first encountered Organ Trail at PAX East 2012 when it was still in development and was enamoured with the idea and kept an eye on it as it developed. When Humble Bundle had it as a part of one of their Android bundles, I immediately picked up the bundle so i could play and test the game on multiple platforms. It’s rare that I get the opportunity to play games on more than one platform and see how they compare to each other.

Organ-trail-6You start the game learning there has been a zombie apocalypse. You have to fight your way to safety. As you are fighting, you are joined by a priest named Clements. He rescues you and asks you if you know of anyone who would be handy in this situation. You and him talk and head to D.C. to pick up your friends…in a station wagon.

I won’t spoil the story too much, but Clements isn’t with you for long, but gives you his diary to help you out, explaining how much of what things you need. You and your party leave D.C. to head cross country with the supplies you’ve scavenged thus far. Just like in Oregon trail, things break on your station wagon, friends get hurt. They may get by a zombie and you may be forced to put them down, or they may get dysentary, or one of 9 other diseases, and if you don’t heal them with medkits they eventually die. As you travel from city to city, you have to scavenge for supplies such as food, ammo, fuel, money, medkits and car scraps and upgrades to survive. You can also buy, sell or trade for items at each town or rest stop. Pay close attention to the health of your car and your party members. Rest to heal, but know for each hour you rest you consume food. Repair your car when needed. You can even take on jobs at towns to earn money or parts.

Organ-trail-2As you travel, you have to survive driving through a horde of zombies, being chased by zombie dogs and other animals or fighting off bikers and bandits. Factor in a day and night cycle and a weather system and the game becomes very interesting and challenging.

I have yet to reach the final location of the game on the West Coast on either PC or Android, but I have made it decently far before I died. The game creates a custom tombstone with a phrase of your choice when you die and your score can be posted to the leaderboards.

Gameplay: 8/10 for PC; 5 of 10 for Android
There is a huge difference in controls for this game depending on the platform it’s played on. For PC, the controls were great. You were able to aim your rifle with your mouse and move around better than when playing on Android. With Android, you can try to aim the rifle, but unless you are very accurate with your fingers and you don’t slip up, it’s hard to aim and hit the zombies coming after you.

Organ-trail-4Graphics: 9/10 for both
If you keep in mind that the game is 16-bit and still looks good while being a stylized-retro game, you’ll understand why I rate the graphics 9/10. It’s not designed to look like a modern game. It’s designed to look like a late 80’s game and in that aspect they did extremely well.

Sound: 9/10
Also created in classic, retro tradition, the music fits the 16-bit game. If you’re interested in the game’s soundtrack, you can download all of the tracks, for free from here: http://hatsproductions.com/organtrailsoundtrack.html

Story: 8/10
The story is very simple, very easy to follow and in the same mindset of Oregon Trail. Long story short, you’re traveling West to escape the zombie apocalypse with your friends in a Station Wagon.

Organ-trail-1Overall: 8.5/10
Packed full of zombie mechanics, themes, references and challenges, this is an extremely fun and frustrating retro zombie survival game. If you liked Oregon Trail as a kid, this is another game you would enjoy on any platform. If you want to test it out before you buy it, play the flash version linked above.

Disclaimer:  Author purchased the games through Humble Bundle and chose to review the game with her purchase.  No codes were given in exchange for review.

Check out the video below for a teaser of the game:

About Grace "Kayhynn" Snoke

Grace Snoke is a corporate journalist and author who enjoys gaming, reading, writing and jewelry making. Outside of her day job, she writes for a number of sites including: Video Game Scoreboard.com, Obsolete Gamer, SciTech Nerds and for a couple blogs and sites she owns. You can learn more about her adventures as an author here.

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