Rogue Lords - Unbalanced But Original
In times past, the forces of good rose to defend humanity from the machinations of the Devil, banishing the prince of darkness back to his place in Hell. Now, the Devil seeks to make his return, sending his most loyal disciples into the world to gather powerful artefacts that will give him the power to eradicate Van Helsing and the demon hunter of the Sanctua Lumen once and for all. Then there will be nothing to prevent him from claiming the souls of the people of Earth all for himself. With the Devil in your corner, you don’t always have to play by the rules, allowing you to sway encounters in your favour. However, even with the Devil on your side, you will need the favour of the RNG gods if you wish to take over the world.
Rogue Lords, developed by Leikir Studio and Cyanide Studio, has made the jump from PC to the Nintendo Switch, allowing you to take control of the Devil’s minions anywhere as you guide them through the six different stories that lead to the powerful artefacts the Devil needs. As you make your way through the different stories that represent each level, you will have to make choices that will alter the game world in ways that can make it easier or more difficult for you, while facing off against different types of enemies in turn-based combat.
What sets Rogue Lords apart from your typical Roguelike is the ability to alter the world through Devil Mode. Does one of your enemies have a magical shield that absorbs all the damage your disciples throw at it? With Devil Mode, you can take that shield and put it on one of your disciples, or even take the debuff the lowers attack power from one of your disciples and put it on an enemy. The inclusion of Devil Mode opens up the possibilities of how you can play the game. There is a limit to what you can do, with each action making use of the finite supply of points you have. Once you run out the game is over, everything is reset and you will have to start that story again.
The Devil Mode is an interesting addition to the game. On top of the obvious benefits during combat, utilising Devil Mode allows for better outcomes during social encounters as well, increasing the chance of earning a relic or a buff during your journey. Every time you make changes in Devil Mode you will use up points, but for the most part, the changes you make will only have a small cost. The biggest hit to your points will come from attacks that take your disciples past zero health or spirit. These attacks will take massive chunks of your points in one hit. Fortunately, you can always see which enemy is attacking which of your disciples and thus utilise Devil Mode to add extra health for far fewer points than it would cost if you did nothing.
Here is where I encountered one of the biggest blocks to enjoying Rogue Lords. You can be enjoying a good run and have a reasonably powerful build but some of the fights are, for a lack of a better descriptor, absolute bullshit. I have had runs where I have finished most of the fights taking very little damage, only to face a random encounter with a combination of effects on the enemies that made it impossible to win the fight. Falling victim to the RNG Devil, especially when you have made it throughout almost the entire level quite easily, can leave a really bad taste in the mouth and make it hard to jump back in again and go back for more.
What I need to make mention is the way that Rogue Lords runs on the Switch. Throughout the game, you will experience frame rate drops and slowdown. The combat will have the occasional dip in frame rate but that will only be if multiple effects are being activated at once and thankfully, because the combat is turn-based, this does not affect the results at all. The issues are a lot more prevalent on the overworld map that you navigate through. Whether it is frame rate drops, new areas not loading in time for your character to keep moving through the world or loading times between menus, Rogue Lords just did not feel as though it was properly ported over. Now I am rocking an OG Switch, so that may factor into it, but the amount of stuttering and slowdown I experienced was not right, especially when this is the same Switch that has run BOTW, Metroid: Dread and Dragon Ball Fighterz without issue. Rogue Lords is not a graphically intensive game and when you are in the overworld you are just moving your character from one area to another, with no other NPCs even present in the world.
Despite the frame rate issues present, Rogue Lords is a game that can still be played and enjoyed by those with an interest in a turn-based combat Rogue-like. There is a huge difficulty spike when you find yourself on the wrong end of the RNG, but those that enjoy a challenge may enjoy finding ways to bend the game to their will.
Rogue Lords was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with code kindly supplied by the publisher.