This episode was all about dungeon crawling, featuring roguelikes, hack ‘n slash games, and at least one game that was thematically appropriate if not gameplay appropriate. Watch the complete show below or catch highlights of the individual games.
The roguelike genre has undergone a curious evolution in the modern era of gaming. Once an overly-complex genre only accessible to patient gamers, now developers have tweaked it into something that appeals to a wider audience. This is where Quadropus Rampage comes in: casual game sessions and accessibility meet challenging hack ‘n slash action and character development. And it’s a brilliant combination.
Players control a four-legged cephalopod, a quadropus that makes up for its lack of limbs with an abundance of fury, swinging various weapons around to take out the other dastardly creatures of the sea. The most dastardly of the dastardly sea creatures is Pete, god of the sea. He’s a jerk, and Grubby (first seen in Towelfight 2: The Monocle of Destiny, also from Butterscotch Shenanigans) wants him gone.
However, Pete lives deep in the sea, and so players must go deeper and deeper into the sea, one dpeth level at a time, picking up new weapons and leveling up to get strong enough to sink Pete once and for all. It’s like a hack ‘n slash Toe Jam and Earl.
Quadropus Rampage blends both a short-term roguelike with long-term benefits and growth. Players level up while playing, earning experience for killling enemies, improving their stats as they level up. New weapons can be picked up, all with different stats. Like the aforemention TJ&E, falling off the world is quite possible, but it comes at a penalty: players take damage and may find themselves taking on enemies before they’re too strong to face them.
Currency of orbs and the rarer dubloons can also be earned along the way, as this is a free-to-play title now, unlike Towelfight 2 which was paid with no IAP. Players must make choices with the orbs: they can be used on permanent stat upgrades that make the quest to take down Pete much easier in the long run, or on short-term ultra-powerful weapons that Grubby sells. The achievements are among the most useful in a game yet, as they too provide permanent upgrades, but with a choice of two different effects to have. The gameplay is pure hack ‘n slash, but there’s a lot of roguelike elements in there too: upon death, characters reset to the beginning, but the player has new experience for the next go-round, and there’s tangible long-term benefits as well as well.
The controls feature a lot of on-screen buttons: there’s attacking, a dodge move, shield and smash attack activation, and virtual buttons for swapping weapons and advancing dialogue that pops up. It’s a bit cluttered like Bastion on iOS was, and gamepad support would be quite welcome.
Quadropus Rampage succeeds for much the same reason that Towelfight 2 did: it tweaks familiar genres just enough to be its own thing, and its quirky sense of humor comes through as well. I found myself playing this one for long stretches of time while I had other things to do, and that’s quite the sign for a good game. Now, excuse me: Pete needs a good whooping.
Butterscotch Shenanigans, the wackily-named studio run by the gravelly-voiced brothers Sam and Seth Coster, have a new game in the works. Well, they’re a game development studio, so of course they would, but it’s an interesting one: a fast-paced take on the roguelike. It’s claled Quadropus Rampage, and I’ve gotten to play an early version of it.
The game bears quite a few similarities to Towelfight 2: The Monocle of Destiny upon playing it. The art style is very similar, being from the same artist that’s to be expected. The game also has a similar genesis, where Towelfight was spawned from a game jam into a larger title, Quadropus Rampage was born from the 7DRL (7-day roguelike) jam, where developers created a ‘roguelike’ action-RPG. Obviously, different developers created different takes on the genre, and Butterscotch Shenanigans created a very action-oriented take on it.
Players start from the top of a sea level, trying to get lower and lower, while running around and slaying enemies. The quadropus can attack with the default weapon, with an ink dash ability and a powerful overhead attack that can be charged up over time. New weapons can be acquired by picking them up midgame; players start off with the same default weapon set. For a game made in a week, it’s got a lot of intriguing ideas to it, though like most games made in a week, it has the feel of needing a lot of tweaking.
However, since then, Butterscotch Shenanigans has taken the core concept of Quadropus Rampage‘s 7DRL origin and is evolving it for PC, iOS, and of course, Android. The new version of the game takes place at an isometric angle. While the starting loadout is the same, players can use coins they earn to spend on permanent upgrades. Also, falling off the map no longer kills players, it just drops them down a further level in the sea, albeit with damage dealt. The goal is to get as far as possible, so taking the safe path is ideal.
While the game is still a short ways away from release, and the Brothers Coster are implementing things like a story in to the game (why is this quadropus on a rampage, anyway?), the title is certainly coming along well, and its evolution is rather apparent. If you want a taste of the title now, the 7DRL version is playable for Windows, though the game has definitely changed since then, so it’s not representative of what the game will finally be. We’ll have more on this title as it nears release.