Death Is Kinda Final: A Risk Of Rain Review/Analysis

Risk Of Rain - A Roguelike Game

Risk Of Rain – A Roguelike Game

*** UPDATE:  Giveaway details provided at the end of the post and on my plain-named Google+ profile.  To qualify for the giveaways, follow/subscribe on the Yogizillla Twitch channel and connect on Steam.  I am pretty much Yogizilla everywhere! ***

Maybe I am a bit of a hipster after all but, I have to say, when I see games like this I get excited.  The graphical presentation may not be much to look.  I am sure some see this screenshot and think, “Wow.. That looks like crap.”  They would be mistaken.

What excites me about Risk Of Rain and indie games like it is that some brave developers are taking a simplified approach to game development.  They forego fancy graphics and fluff to provide depth, fresh game mechanics, and high replay value.  Risk Of Rain shines in all regards.

Death Is Kinda Final

Here is a game that takes the permadeath concept and makes it fun.  That’s quite the tall order, too, because dying is kinda final..  People don’t usually come back from death.  That kind of sucks..  And then your corpse starts to rot and smell, which means someone has to deal with that.  That sucks too.

Fortunately, permadeath is a core mechanic here that actually makes this game so [frustratingly] fun.  This game has a very strong element of random to it so every playthrough is unique.  With death being final, gamers feel more urgency in trying to survive and get as far as they can.

Risk Of Rain is not alone in the bold permadeath design decision but it certainly does it well.  Other games worth noting in this space are FTL: Faster Than Light, Hammerwatch, and Rogue Legacy, which all make me a happy gamer.

Borderlands Ain’t Got Nothing On This!

The Borderlands series has often been hailed as being the king of lootfests.  While the drops in Borderlands are all unique, random, and bountiful, Risk Of Rain offers over 100 unique items and each has significant impacts on gameplay.  I found that, even with god-like items, the game was still very challenging and satisfying.  What changed is how I positioned my character and approached challenges.

Sometimes, less is more.  That’s certainly the case here.  The quality and uniqueness of the items satiated my need to build the ultimate hero..

Yes, this playthrough will be it.  I have all the 1337 gear and now I am unstoppable..  Oh, I died again.  @#&$%!

One of the coolest items I found so far was a back-strapped rocket pod that randomly fired off a barrage of homing missiles at nearby enemies.  I also found a magical egg that healed me while I was out of combat (or at least not taking damage).  The latter was not as useful deeper in the game as enemies kept spawning on me..  But it was delicious, nonetheless.

Online Features & A Little Wishful Thinking

Surprisingly, the growing roguelike space does not have very many online entries.  It goes to show that the games are just that fun, I suppose, but it doesn’t matter here because Risk Of Rain supports online multiplayer.

As a budget indie game, I suppose it would be unrealistic to expect online matchmaking.  To join a game, you need a competent host and an IP address to connect to.  Not very user-friendly but, fortunately, I am still a techie at heart.

What I hope to see is more online features like scoreboards and social sharing.  Most of the games doing this just tack it on but, here, I think it would really enhance the experience.  After all, surviving just ten minutes of ROR is epic on it’s own but imagine if you could brag to your friends and tell them you survived an hour or more!

Perfect For Video Game Streaming

Risk Of Rain is by far one of my Top 10 games of choice to stream on Twitch or record Let’s Play type videos on YouTube.  I say this for a number reasons, including…

  • It is not a resource hog so you can stream at HD quality on just about any rig.
  • Since each playthrough is unique, it never gets old.
  • You’ll die lots, do stupid things, and probably cuss lots (people like that).
  • People may pity you and join you for some co-op death parties.

We’re seeing a growing number of procedurally-generated, random-event type games nowadays and I think it’s great.  Not all games should require high replay value to be considered exceptional but, for a frugal spender like myself, that is a HUGE selling point.  I don’t see myself getting tired of Risk Of Rain any time soon.

My hope is that we can help expand the community around this game enough to see significant updates and maybe some online matchmaking.  I’d at least love to see holiday-themed events.  Maybe some lizard men in Santa hats or pumpkinhead scarecrows chasing after you around Halloween.

I have streamed this game a handful of times but it is definitely staying on my playlist for a long time.  I just can’t say enough good things about it.

What Is A Game Really Worth?

Some gaming snobs may say, “Pffft..  What can you really expect from a ten-dollar game?”  Others may feel that it is not worth even that.  Both groups would be dreadfully wrong.  This game is perfect at $10.  I’d venture to say it is a must-buy.

Just look at all the off-the-shelf retail offerings the so-called next-gen consoles are selling now.  Forza 5 is a huge macrotransaction followed by several microtransactions..  And that’s just one of the many games trying to milk consumers in the front and back ends (hmmm, that sounds really bad).

Risk Of Rain breaks this nasty cycle of corporate greed by offering you an experience that is budget-friendly.  More importantly, you can jump right in without worrying about hidden costs, value-removed, or any other crap.  Heck, if and when they do release DLCs, I will be more than happy to support these developers with some of my hard-earned coins.

To me, a game’s price should be a compromise between recuperating your investment as a developer and scaling according to the overall scope.  Games with high replay value and low production value should be priced at entry to mid-range prices.  This game comes in at the low-end but offers a high-end experience, in my humble opinion.  Yes, it’s just that good.

The only thing that limits the game is the lack of gameplay modes and environmental variety.  Hammerwatch has similar issues but compensates with an included level editor and modding kit.  I’d love to see a boss rush mode, more variety in levels, and new monsters added.  Of course, that’s just me knit-picking.  The game is fantastic as it is right now but fresh content never hurts.

If you’re on Steam, get this game..  And add me, Yogizilla.  Do it..  Do it now.

The Simplicity Paradigm Shift..  And Hipsters

I find that developers today, especially the big ones, are too focused on technology and visuals.  That stuff is fine and dandy but, by the time they have invested so much in the game engine and presentation, it feels like the other aspects are just after-thoughts.  The simplicity of games like Risk Of Rain has allowed developers to go deeper with the things that make games really fun.. and replayable.

I am uber excited to see the direction gaming is going in.  We’re seeing more games developed by real gamers.  Developers are making the games they’ve always wanted to play themselves.  They are passionate, engaged, and socially-connected.  It’s awesome and that spirit shows in Risk Of Rain.

The jaded cynist in me used to think that these retro-style games were part laziness, part hipster-pandering..  I was wrong.  This is a turning point in the gaming industry.  We’re going back to the roots.  Good, simple fun.


Sweepstakes/giveaway rules updated 12/30/2013.

Reward UNLOCKED! is my new promotion, where I give away cool stuff for gamers and geeks.  Risk Of Rain will be my first giveaway for this series.  If it goes well, I may give away more copies.  That’s how much I dig this game!

To unlock this reward, follow/subscribe to me on Twitch and connect with me on Steam – I am Yogizilla at both places!  To unlock the reward, share my links with your friends.  Once we hit 100 subscribers, I will pick a random winner from amongst Twitch followers.  I will also be giving away copies of Guns of Icarus Online and Skulls of the Shogun, then we can game and stream together!

Learn more on Yomar Lopez’s (that’s me) Google+ profile or my NEW Yogizilla-branded Tumblr microblog (NSFW/NSFK).  Also, for more gaming-related content and random geeky shenanigans, visit me at – w00t!

6 thoughts on “Death Is Kinda Final: A Risk Of Rain Review/Analysis

  1. I’m all for permadeath. It puts value in the game playing.

    8 bit graphics can be a turn off for me, though. Angry Birds was cute enough and, honestly, cute doesn’t demand a host of slacking, prima donna graphic designers that pretend to be working. 😛

    One day, we will play the same game!

    • Bwahaha!

      I can appreciate the sentiment. The 8-bit graphics took a little getting used to. I would have likely enjoyed 16-bit sprites with less particle effects but I don’t feel the art style detracts from the experience.

      Yes, permadeath definitely makes for a more immersive experience. Infinite continues tend to make it too easy to slack off. Of course, permadeath has to be balanced with some persistence like unlockables. Risk of Rain and Rogue Legacy both do this right.

      If RoR is not your flavor, I do have a slew of dirt cheap games I got via the Steam Holiday Sale 2013. Some of the nice looking standouts include The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing, Space Hulk, XCOM: EU, Skulls of the Shogun, etc. Many of these have an isometric/overhead view with deep layers of strategy.

      What is your favorite genre? I have been searching for space sims, with FTL and Armada Online being the tops. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion and Starpoint Gemini 2 both look promising though I prefer co-op over singleplayer or PvP. 8)

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