Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos Review
Developed by Heliocentric Studios, Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is a quiet little unassuming game which will quite quickly and suddenly consume every aspect of waking thoughts in the mind of even a casual RPG gamer. Players begin by customizing their hero with different skin, hair, and clothing colors, as well as selecting from a list of unlocked classes. You are plopped down into a shack in an old broken city and awaken to your first quest: get supplies for the builder to fix up his shop! What follows is a highly addictive game of constantly being rewarded, and progressing through a unique yet familiar world.
The simplest way to explain Rogue Heroes is if they took The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and turned it into a rogue-like with multiplayer. I realize this sounds more like The Four Swords, but in nearly every aspect it is far more similar to the former. Environment design, camera movement, abilities, items, they all are heavily inspired by the genre-defining entry in the Zelda franchise. You’ll set out into the world slaying classic beasts like skeletons, bats, blue jellies, etc. Along the way you’ll no doubt meet strangers, discover puzzles, and meet dead-ends requiring specific pieces of gear to pass. There are a variety of tools which can be crafted from monster parts, collected by defeating the evil denizens of the world, but should you need these tools in a dungeon you will most likely discover their glass variants hidden among the shrubs and pottery. These glass versions are just as good as the real thing but will break should you fall into an untimely death.
Dungeons are all procedurally generated and feel like the classic models we remember from the SNES days. Each dungeon has three floors to explore and ends in a boss battle. I’ve played plenty of games with procedurally generated or randomly generated dungeons and one thing you can often count on is a series of unfortunate bugs, glitches, or awkward design hiccups. To my surprise, I have not experienced a single issue like this with Rogue Heroes. Every room feels purpose built, smooth, and effective at keeping you on your toes. You’ll no doubt encounter the same room in different configurations each time you die, but it gives you something to learn from as you discover each of the little tricks hidden behind the next door.
You’ll be collecting gems as you delve deeper into the ruins but, should you meet a grizzly end, you’ll respawn at your house with all of your gems intact. These gems are used to build new shops and homes for your town, upgrade gear and stats, unlock abilities and new classes, and so much more. Your town is quite sizeable, and being the “hero,” it’s up to you to decide what goes where. It isn’t a terribly complex system, but it does give you creative control over your village and ensures no two towns are the same. This is an absolutely fantastic system as you always feel like you are making progress and never taking a step back. Even if you manage to fall to some ridiculous circumstance and only walk away with 200 gems that is still enough to do something to make it worth your while. You’ll want to spend all those gems before entering the dungeon again, however, as walking through that door forces you to sacrifice whatever gems you have left.
My favorite unique aspect for the game comes from its bestiary. To enter an enemy into the bestiary you’ll need to equip the book itself as an item and use it to kill them. Yes, you have to beat an enemy to death with a book to get its information added. Once added, after defeating a certain number of them in regular combat, killing another one with the book will gain “Mastery” over that enemy type. It’s a weird and interesting mechanic that adds one more small layer to combat. While this is a very entertaining concept, the method of tool selection can be a bit daunting as you unlock them. Seed bags, bombs, arrows, spells, grappling hooks, everything appears at the top which you can cycle through with L and R. While this isn’t anything new, combat and enemies move faster than you might expect, and the dungeon is full of plenty of dangers. I would have preferred having a few buttons dedicated to specific tools similar to Ocarina of Time rather than trying to avoid incoming damage while cycling for a certain item.
It’s Dangerous To Go Alone
After constructing the tailors shop you’ll be able to bring the sweet old lady special thread you might find in the world. These threads are used to craft your alternate playable classes like Ranger, Knight, Pirate, and Reaper (among others) These will each have varying base stats, attacks, and abilities meaning you have plenty of options at your disposal. The real treat to unlocking these other classes is jumping into the games multiplayer. You’ll be able to hop into local or online co-op to play together and delve the dungeon as a team of up to four adventurers, each with their own unique skills and abilities. It’s like an adorable little DnD party. With a group of friends, this game can definitely feel like a campy little Saturday morning cartoon, and I mean that in the best possible way.
Speaking of adventuring, Rogue Heroes has plenty to do out in the wild as well. There are hidden paths to follow, enemies to defeat, treasures to find, and side quests to uncover. This feels like so much more than a simple rogue-like game and is instead an all around fun, thought out, and exhilarating RPG that just so happens to include some rogue-like mechanics for balancing. The world is huge and full of secrets just waiting to be uncovered, and it hides them in such a way as to make you want to find every last one. If you aren’t feeling up for delving into the dungeon to take on the big baddie you are more than welcome to set off into the wild and see what you can discover for yourself.
Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is an absolute hit. It’s classic aesthetic and simple gameplay is addictive and brimming with nostalgia. It offers a full RPG experience with rogue-like mechanics, yet never makes you feel like you are taking a step back. It’s actually important for you to die to cash in those hard earned gems and grow. Gameplay is incredibly smooth and intuitive with a large overworld to explore and plenty of secrets to unlock. The random dungeons feel like they are pulled straight from LoZ: A Link to the Past, and everything from your damage, to HP, to mana, to stamina can all be upgraded. This game will give you a severe case of “just one more thing before I stop,” and the only change I would make is to have dedicated buttons to assign items to rather than cycling through them with the shoulder buttons, but that is more of a personal preference than anything mechanically wrong. If you want a modern take on the classic Zelda formula that includes multiplayer and a health dose of both nostalgia and fresh experiences, I cannot recommend Rogue Heroes enough.
**Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher**
- Rich With Nostalgia
- Seamlessly Procedurally Generated Dungeons
- Loads Of Side Quests
- Village and Hero Customization
- Love Letter To Zelda
- Tool Scrolling Is Time Consuming