Reviewed on: PS4
Publisher: Dear Villagers
Developer: Flying Oak Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
ScourgeBringer is a fast-paced free-moving rogue-lite platformer game developed by Fly Oak Games, published by Dear Villagers & Yooreka Studio. After an early access period on Steam since February 2020, the game came out on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC on October 21st; the PS4 version was finally released on April 22nd.
In this game you’re Kyhra, a sword-wielding warrior of the end times, sent by her tribe to explore the Monolith, a strange, ancient stone that has laid waste to Earth. With the help of a small robot cylinder that flies around Kyhra all the time, giving her small hints and shooting bullets, she has to kill everything on her path. Evil mushrooms, bats, robots and stone demons will attack with fast bullets and extremely rapid attacks, while super strong bosses (the Judges) will try to stop Khyra from exploring all the mysteries of the Monolith and, maybe, find a way to save the Earth and humanity from their doomed fate.
The game design is typical for the genre, there are 5 worlds made of randomly generated rooms, usually full of enemies while others can contain shops or power-ups. To access the following world, the player has to defeat the guardian of the level, the number varies depending on the world, and the Judge (the final bosses of the worlds).
The gameplay is extremely frenetic; players have to jump, dash, smash and shoot as fast as possible to prevent enemies to attack. Enemy movements don’t follow specific patterns and their bullets vary in volume, intensity, direction and pace. Killing enemies will provide blood drops that can be spent in the market rooms (1 or 2 in each world), where the player can upgrade the gun, increase the damage dealt and unlock secondary abilities. Every time the characters dies (this will happen a lot) we will be transported to the main hub, a strange place with an even stranger creature which will give us small gameplay hints; here there is also a tree that will allow unlocking new main abilities, such as more HP or more ranged attacks. The level of difficulty is extremely high, especially considering the boss fights, but luckily the developers have introduced some accessibility options, including the possibility of reducing the speed of enemies' bullets, the drop rate of potions and even invincibility. Through these options the gameplay will become easier but this won’t reduce the level of the challenge too much; on the other hand, the invisibility will kill every type of challenge and the experience will just become a rush through all the rooms to reach the ending.
Artistically, the game is really impressive and the choice of using the pixel art increases those sci-fi vibes that fill the game; the music is great with iconic background themes different in each world and crazy fast metal tracks during the fights and this helps to have more sense of speed. The enemies have nice design with a good variety and bosses are really well characterized.
Overall, this experience was great and despite the high level of the challenge I really enjoyed it. Learning enemy patterns and bosses, testing my patience and precision trying to solve the mysteries hidden within the Monolith is something I'd recommend to everyone who loves these type of games. Even though sometimes dying over and over against the same boss can become a bit frustrating, the upgrades of both the skill tree and the ones obtained in markets are helpful and will make the challenge more accomplishable.
The only negative aspect is represented by the variety of the room design; there are 10 different types of room at most and this may reduce the variety of the game experience, since at some point managing the enemies in well known environments becomes easier. Despite this the game is long lasting and finishing it really is just the beginning of the experience as there are more challenges and opportunities that become available in the end game. To conclude, this game is damn good fun and I highly recommend it to all rogue-like lovers and to players who enjoy a tough challenge; frustration can be persistent but the games developers found good ways to reduce the difficulty of the game without losing the sense of challenge.