Rooftop Renegade – Rendless Roller
Following its selection as the prestigious “People’s Choice” winner from the PAX AUS 2022 Indie Showcase, South Australian studio Melonhead Games launched debut title Rooftop Renegade earlier this year. Starting life as a Global Game Jam title in 2018 and weathering the storm of COVID shutdowns across 2020, Rooftop Renegade has come a long way from Player2’s first experiences of it at PAX AUS 2019.
In a dystopian futuristic cityscape, oppressive conglomerate Globacorp seek to eliminate anybody who dares hover-blade on the many rails and platforms they’ve littered the skyline with, the titular ‘Renegade’ Svetlana drawn like a moth to a flame to such sick lines. OK, so the story isn’t exactly the beating heart of Rooftop Renegade, but I’ve yet to play any endless runner adjacent title that has blown me away narratively. Where Rooftop Renegade excel-erates is its twitchy gameplay which hides depth behind simplicity and will ensure less skilled players feel some level of mastery while the truly dedicated frown at an ‘S’ level ranking that didn’t quite shave off the few milliseconds they were aiming for. It’s nigh impossible to lose in Rooftop Renegade – I didn’t fail a single level during my time with the game – ensuring a degree of accessibility for younger players who just want to make it to the end, whilst anyone who isn’t looking to dive deep into improving scores can finish the Arcade ‘story mode’ in a few hours and move on to the proc-gen levels of Generator or multiplayer Party mode if desired. I was unable to spend any time in the latter mode as I have a distinct lack of extra PlayStation 5 controllers, not to mention the ability to have friends visit my house to play video games.
The gameplay loop in Rooftop Renegade is simple; hoverblade to the end of a level avoiding obstacles and doing so as quickly as possible by employing an ever-increasing arsenal of abilities linked to higher ranking pairs of Hoverblades which unlock through XP earned across Arcade and Generator Mode. The most basic pair are equipped with a boost function, while later pairs introduce Launch which thrusts players upwards, a Dishonored-esque Blink which skips through obstacles and Phase which is the equivalent of a Mario Star and makes the player invulnerable for a short time. Each ability is linked to a respective obstacle that appears in the three biomes – City, Clouds, Mining – that make up the Arcade levels in Rooftop Renegade and are subsequently remixed into the Generator Mode. This slight progression system reinvigorates earlier levels and will push the speediest of speedrunners to rewrite their own history, but can feel like a poor attempt to extend playtime as it takes many runs to unlock the last few pairs.
On the flip side of this, a single run in Rooftop Renegade ranges from 90 to 120 seconds so it’s quite easy to blast through a set of levels in a shorter play session and would no doubt shine more on the Switch release. For prospective buyers uninterested in refining their play to shave down their times the experience here is fairly slight, a handful of hours to complete each Arcade level and then ideally play a sufficient amount of the generated levels to obtain the highest ranked Hoverblades. There’s a strong feeling of ‘just one more run’ at the conclusion of each stage, but I’m not quite sure that lingers long after exiting the game. Nevertheless, Rooftop Renegade is versatile
Rooftop Renegade is available now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5 and Xbox consoles.
Rooftop Renegade was reviewed on PlayStation 5 with code kindly supplied by Melonhead Games