Life as a cube is pretty dull. People keep calling you square, you get climbed all over, and you can’t move very well because of your cornered edges. Well, it’s time to rejoice, as those days are long gone. Roguecube is a tale about a group of random cubes who decide one day to go on an adventure. Developed by Bipolar Dawn and published by the indie Kings Ratalaika Games, this twin-stick shooter is one retro experience you won’t want to miss.
Why these cubes went on an adventure is anyone’s guess, but I’m glad they did. Somehow these shapes know how to handle weapons, and like humans, they seem to have formed into factions where each group wants to kill the other. The aim of the game is simple, clear all 11 worlds, each comprising 3 sub stages, and defeat the 4 unique bosses en route.
The title has 3 game modes to select; Campaign, Daily and Verses. Each is reasonably self explanatory, but for reviewing purposes, let me give an overview. The campaign is the main portion of the game, each world is set in its theme, and the bosses appear on specific stages. This can be played solo, or with up to 3 other players. Daily follows a similar pattern, except it changes every day, and is there to keep the action fresh. Verses is an all out battle, and can be used to vent some frustration and anger.
You begin the game with the option of 3 different cubes, each has a specific skill set, and depending on how you approach the game there will be one you prefer over the others. As the game progresses, you unlock up to 6 other characters. They all look unique, and some have restrictions applied, such as; terrible with melee weapons, or unable to pick up additional items. As you explore each small stage, you will see several chests scattered about. They have different colours, and each denote a level of weapon or key that you will receive. The list of deadly tools are impressive; pistols, plasma guns, rifles, machine guns, projectiles, and melee weapons. There is something for everyone, and you are only limited by the amount of ammo that you hold.
The aim of each stage is to survive the onslaught of enemy cubes, and other monsters in your path. Destroy them all, and a hidden gate will reveal itself and will be unlocked. As you decimate your enemies, you will note small blue cubes lying on the ground, these are experience points, and they help you level up. Levelling up offers an automatic bonus on stats, and you have no input into how this improves your character. The bonuses include; increased ammo capacity, health, slower enemy bullets, and so on. It’s well worth scouring the stage to pick them all up, as they make a heck of a difference to the game’s difficulty.
Talking about difficulty, it’s at this point I will drop the bombshell that Roguecube is a permadeath title. Dah Dah daaaahhhhh, a simple premise suddenly turned into a tough fight for survival. And to increase the pain further, the developers made each stage procedurally generated, so you can’t even plan your strategy of attack. Weapon drops are also random, so luck, skill, and more luck are required to succeed in this basic twin-stick shooting adventure.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, then you know that I’m terrible at twin-stick shooters, and this is no exception. Luckily, Bipolar Dawn allowed a crosshair to help with aiming, and certain weapons home in on enemy targets. So, this increased my skill level from totally hopeless, to slightly rubbish. I died repeatedly and was pulling what little hair I have left out. And then suddenly, it clicked, and I could dodge bullets like Neo from The Matrix. Don’t get me wrong, I was still rubbish, but I could progress. It was a hard, yet fun experience, and one that can be played casually.
As with most Ratalaika Games titles, the audio and visual presentation is quite dated, and falls into the category of 80s retro. Roguecube wouldn’t look out of place on a Commodore 64, but it looked and played fantastically. The vivid tones, and bright colour palette were a treat for the eyes. The pixilated sprites were clearly identifiable, and the stages were easy to navigate with its tabletop perspective. Who says you need AAA graphics to enjoy a game.
There isn’t much originality in indie games when it comes to audio, and Roguecube unfortunately follows this trend. It uses a synthesized upbeat soundtrack that varies slightly from world to world. It inspires you to keep moving and shooting. Fortunately, it’s not annoying, and after a while you find that you don’t even pay attention to it. I, however, enjoyed the over the top sound effects. The big bangs and explosions from the weapons, the comedy twang when using a melee item, and the noise that accompanied the death of an enemy. It was glorious.
I always struggle with the controls on a twin-stick shooter. My brain can’t cope with the multitasking element of it all. But, with the addition of a crosshair, I found that this was much easier to manage. Other than my own shortcomings, the game was simple enough to control, and the button layout was easy to master.
Depending on your skill level, you’ll either find this as challenging as it was for me, or an absolute breeze. With the permadeath feature, Co-operative play, daily challenges, and verses mode, this simple indie title has plenty to make you want to return. As with all Ratalaika Games titles, the time to complete this is relatively short, and the achievements can be earned through natural progression. With a cheap asking price, this one represents good value for money.
Roguecube offers up an unusual gaming experience. With plenty to unlock, several play styles, and a simple premise, it’s one that can be picked up, and put down casually. Do I recommend that you buy this? Yes, I do! I’m a sucker for indie games, and this one will get under your skin. Can you lead your cube of choice to success? Only 11 worlds and 4 bosses stand in your way in this cube inspired twin-stick shooter.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 6/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
A tough twin-stick shooter that offers many weapons, and levelling up. Death is a permanent feature, so be careful, and defeat the 4 bosses in your way.
- The crosshairs make aiming much easier.
- Simple retro graphics.
- Great sound effects.
- Excellent replay value.
- The permadeath feature can be frustrating.