Starward Rogue is a bullet hell action RPG roguelike where you move in procedurally generated levels, fighting enemies, gathering keys, power-ups, money and items all in service of getting to the final boss, defeating complex foes with hellish projectile patterns, and get stronger in the process. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I feel like the roguelike elements have been wasted for a game that feels completed when you finish it for the first time.

After a small tutorial that explained everything about how your robot moves and acts, you're thrown at the character selection skill, which is a low point of this game for me. The different characters you can play as feel too similar, I really wish you started with only one hull and unlocked new ones as you completed certain challenges. I also wish they were more different, some of them have almost the same set of weapons and only differ in a few ways. 

The way this game works is that you have one primary weapon with infinite ammo, an energy-based weapon that recharges when you get into a new room, limited missiles, one-use items and attachments you can equip. You also get passive boosts from enemies or in shops that give various abilities to your robot. You collect keys to unlock doors and special capsules, you collect money to buy items from shops and you collect health shards to increase your maximum health. There is a shield system that I haven't understood completely where you can take a few hits to your shield before your health starts draining. It's useful, but not a key gameplay element.

What is key in Starward Rogue is going from room to room, destroying everything and getting experience and loot. That part of the game is really great. The movement is fluid enough that you can dodge around enemy projectiles as you learn their patterns, some gear makes your character very powerful and it's fun to just run around with a machinegun shooting bouncing bullets complemented with side shots, protecting yourself using shields that deflect bullets and missiles that drag them far away. Until you get to the last boss, then it's run over.

That's when I stopped, after a few runs, I got a good one in, and then finished the game and nothing seemed to unlock itself for me to be motivated to try again. It was a neat game, although my time with it was short, but if you can make up your own challenges and try to finish it at higher difficulties using all characters, you may be able to wring more time out of it than I did!

AuthorJérémie Tessier