The Action Roguelite thread

New character for Children of Morta

You know what, I dislike how little effort some devs put in the procedural generation of the levels. It makes clear they are doing it just because they feel obligated to do it, being a staple of the genre.

But in this subgenre I guess the important thing is the combat, and the rooms are just places where the combat plays, that’s why they just put a series of squareish rooms connected by corridors in in a squareish grid map, it isn’t really that important of a feature. I guess they could streamline it like Slay the Spire did it, just put a series of nodes and link, and play a fight in each one. No need to simulate a procedural dungeon.

I think this is an important point, actually. Rogue-lites (are supposed to) excel in variety. If you don’t get into interesting and new situations, they have failed. Some of this variety comes from enemy types, some from rooms, some from the way the two of them interact. I believe many rogue-lites do fail this aspect.

However, there’s also a little secret related to our brains: the more unique features in an environment (aka landmarks), the better we can recognize it. This means that if you work to place unique elements in your procedural generation, it’ll actually look less random than if you make most places look fairly similar but subtly different. This can hamper enjoyment, as the player will feel like they’re going into the same 5 unique rooms, where in actuality, there could be a lot more variety than that, but it’s hampered by the landmarks.

Les than 10€.

Free on Xbox (not pc) gamepass, fyi

/shakes fist as MS

That’s the biggest problem I had with Wizard of Legend. They spent all their variety on a million different spells the player can use, but you use them in the same half dozen rooms with the same half dozen enemies and the same four bosses over and over and over.

Yep, it was the one I was thinking when I wrote that. There are no secret rooms, no interesting traps (beyond some spikes and some fire grates), no different gameplay gimmick depending of if you play an earth vs water vs air level.

I haven’t played a lot of Enter the Gungeon or Binding of Isaac, but they seemed to follow the same… sameness.

It’s something that Dead Cells is pretty good at. Each level is procedural, but each one has clearly a ‘theme’, a set of parameters in the proceduralness, so caverns are different biome than the lab, it isn’t only a aesthethic change. The sewers and the ancient sewers are slightly different because of that. The village has enterable houses. Ramparts has cliffs you can jump or fall. The one with the bells has a series of interconnected vertical towers, which play different than the graveyard. etc
Add to that that a few of them have unique gimmicks, like the one where there is a darkness that hurt you, or the temple where some monsters are stone status until you reach the middle point, or the one with the unique keys you can find.

I started Lost Castle. I can’t recommend it.

It’s a 2d brawler game, Streets of Rage style. But roguelite, you get the idea.
The first strike against it is the art style, I don’t like it:

Even more important, the combat is just not good. Which as I pointed out some posts ago, it’s very important to me, I don’t care the variety and progression systems if the core of the game is mediocre.
Here the combat is very slow. Not only that, it’s just clunky, there is no roll nor a useful jump, there is no combo attacks, and in special I noticed the controls unresponsive, you can’t chain easily movement and attack inputs, any animation locks you a lot on it so you can’t avoid enemies even if you see them and press the keys, nor can’t do a heavy attack suddenly between light attacks you were spamming.
Another thing that makes the combat slow and cumbersome is how the enemies activate when you are somewhat close to them, it makes obligatory to use a single strategy: advance a few steps until a enemy wakes up, then retreat a bit and kill him, repeat with the rest.

Does Foregone look like a complete Dead Cells clone to anyone else? Not that I mind. I want more people to copy Dead Cells. Lots more Dead Cells please!

I’ve cued up the video from the Indie Xbox showcase video from the Xbox thread to show Foregone:

So between Dead Cells and Children of Morta, what would you pick?

Dead Cells here. It’s amazing.

I played a little Children of Morta (it’s on Game Pass), but couldn’t get into it. @tomchick really enjoyed it though, so I do intend to give it a longer shot someday.

Dead Cells is like a good pop song though. Instantly likeable.

I like Morta. It is pretty unique in the way it does things. I think Dead Cells arguably has better moment to moment gameplay. It’s also quite difficult. If that isn’t a concern, I’d probably suggest DC. While the difficulty in Morta isn’t trivial, if you want a more chill kind of experience, I’d get Morta.

@Rock8man Dead Cells is like playing Dragonforce when you’ve never picked up a guitar…at least for me.

It sounds like over the course of development, the difficulty of Dead Cells varied wildly, just going by @TurinTur’s posts (in the Dead Cells thread). I wonder if the two of us played it under the same difficulty balance changes, or different? I’m not very good at video games, and I didn’t have too much trouble. But I played it after Turin said they made the game a lot easier.

Think I also did…iirc, that’s why I picked it up. But I MAY be thinking of Gungeon, which was a terrible mistake on my part.

Looks like I played DC back in August 2018. I don’t think I played very far, but I don’t recall why. I note in the DC thread it is easier to progress than in Gungeon because you don’t have to kill bosses to get anywhere.

Dead Cells.

Morta’s caverns are a more samey. It has several characters but the variety is still a drop in the bucket in comparison with DC. Combat is also more engaging in DC. DC’s exploration is also cooler, as some weapons are unlocked by beating enemies, but others by finding secrets or doing little puzzles or platform challenges.

That said I will give a second go to Morta and try the new character. On released I dropped it after some hours because I felt I had seen the core loop it offered, and all that was left was repeat it again and again.

I actually installed Children of Morta right now. After playing it again I remembered in why I wasn’t so hot on this game

-The combat is indeed a bit bland, 90% of it is against trash mobs that makes you play the same: spam normal attack while trying to not be surrounded, and from time to time use the aoe or heavy attack against the most dense groups of enemies.
-One of the key problem is the enemy design. The first two levels showcase small, medium, and big spiders, bats, skellies, shadow blobs, and humanoid shadows. Most of what I have listed are just normal melee enemies that walk to you and try to attack you. Very few are what I’d call ‘interesting’ enemies.
-It has relatively few pieces to mix and match for the procedural generation, In one map I could see the same section reused… four times. In the same single level.
-It has stupid difficulty spikes in the bosses between every pair of levels. The levels themselves are mostly normal, or even can be considered kind of easy (first run with the archer felt easy to me) and then the first boss killed me with ease. A big difficulty spike that basically are a grind gate.
-So you have to grind playing the first two levels of every new area you eventually unlock to buy new passive stats and unlock character passives/abilities, until you reach a point where the boss can be handled.

Your last couple of points describe most games in this genre.

This is a very good point:

  • Spelunky has no real bosses until the end. You have to learn the rules for the final fight(s), but that’s it.
  • Binding of Isaac has easy bosses – you die a few times and then pick up their patterns, which aren’t complicated. In fact, one of the expansions added a very hard boss through an alternate path, and nobody likes going through that path.
  • FTL has no bosses until the very end.
  • Enter The Gungeon has very hard bosses at the end of every level, and it severely hurts the game for the stated reason. The levels are mostly banal, and then you get to the very hard boss fights. This makes you feel like you’re grinding the same things over and over.
  • Crypt of the Necrodancer has fairly easy bosses unless you’re playing with the toughest character. You learn their patterns and move on.
  • Slay the Spire has all kinds of bosses – some of which are very tough, but the Elites, spread throughout the levels, are just about as hard, thus spreading out the difficulty. Only the Heart (optional final boss) is of extreme difficulty.
  • Neon Chrome has some very hard bosses (and relatively easy levels besides those boss levels) and suffers for it.
  • Streets of Rogue has no bosses, but instead increases difficulty a little every 3 levels by adding a random modifier, such as zombies or night curfew.
  • Nuclear Throne has bosses that aren’t significantly harder than the main game.
  • Starward Rogue has very difficult bosses, and you almost always lose in the boss fights, which is a big problem there as well.

Basically, I think bosses that are too difficult, or perhaps difficulty spikes in predetermined places in general, are an anti-pattern for the roguelite genre. They collapse all the variety the game has into one memory – that of losing to the boss in the same place over and over.

I’d never thought of it in terms of boss fight difficulty spikes but it definitely clarifies some of my hazy annoyance at certain gameplay loops - it’s not just losing to the same boss over and over, it’s the annoyance of having to go through the rest of the game to get there - it’s back to the bad old save point design where they for some reason save you so far back that you have to fight through a bunch of mobs and a cutscene just to get back to the actual fight/puzzle you’re working on.