ScourgeBringer is an action-packed roguelike with fast-paced high-stakes combat. It also has awesome rock music so what's not to like?
After a short tutorial, you're launched into the first stage but it's not an easy one and you start with just 6 hit points. Although the enemies are not particularly hard yet, health pickups are few and far between. That means you'll have to play very accurately just to make it past a few rooms. There are many floors and each has a boss as well as several possible mini-bosses.
Explore the dungeon a bit and you'll soon find your first mini-boss which will fill the room with bullets but you can stun it before that happens or you can simply take cover. You can also find a couple shopkeepers such as Greed who you can trade blood shards with for useful items. At the end of the floor, you'll fight the first judge: Bodyboulder and he's no joke. It must have taken me over 20 attempts to get past this monster and it's just the first floor! You need to dodge his attacks extremely quickly and you're probably already weak by clearing the rest of the floor so you should save your fury for the boss to deal a big burst of damage.
The second realm (the Still Bastion) is a frozen city now inhabited by machines and Metroid-like jellies. Some enemies here shoot lasers that you have to dodge and there are some that try to drop on you from the ceiling. As for the third realm (the Wasted Pit); well, the name speaks for itself. You'll have to fight your way through an insect and devil infestation. The levels are extremely hazardous and the environment will kill you more than the enemies. The fourth realm (the Living Walls) is another extremely dangerous stage and it's also the first where projectiles fly right through the walls so taking cover is impossible and the boss of this realm will definitely give you arachnophobia. The final level is the Old World, a terrifying place which is inhabited entirely by devils and it also has some extremely warped room layouts. There's a secret sixth realm, too, but I'll leave it up to you to find out how to get there.
ScourgeBringer is a roguelike which means that each time you die; you start from the beginning of the game. There are many random elements like room layouts, enemies, shops, and mini-bosses. Each time you bite the dust, you get judge blood that you can spend at the hub area for upgrades that are not that powerful but they give you new tricks for you to use. Here are a few examples:
- Bullets deal 50% more damage to stunned enemies
- The ability to deflect projectiles back at enemies with the smash
- Smashed enemies are stunned for 50% longer
Combat in ScourgeBringer is a cool combination of sword and gunplay. The gun (BLAST-32) can be altered by buying a new gun from the shopkeeper and you can also buy up to 3 mods. There's a huge selection of guns like shotguns, lasers, and rocket launchers but it's a shame that you usually find only one gun in each shop. Keep firing and you'll run out of ammo but to reload, all you have to do is kill a few foes with the sword. It's a cool system but I wish there was also a way to customise the sword. To complement combat, ScourgeBringer has intense rock music which might seem unusual but it works well enough and it gets me pumped every time I listen to it.
ScourgeBringer is an extremely difficult roguelike and the most challenging one I've played. Even completing the skill tree doesn't make things much easier. I played for a good 10 hours and it took me 7 hours just to make it to the third realm (the Wasted Pit). After that, I was unable to progress further. The problem is the lack of healing and that's why any mistakes you make are punished heavily. Bosses are also difficult to overcome because it takes so long to reach them and before you have time to practice, you're already dead.
After the 10 hour mark, I turned on invincibility mode because I wanted to experience the story. It seems like some cryptic mumbo jumbo where Earth was invaded by demons but humanity isn't eradicated completely. It isn't clear where you fit in all of this. If you manage to collect all the computer logs, it would probably answer some questions but don't expect to get a great story.
ScourgeBringer has various accessibility options to help mitigate its absurd difficulty. You can increase the drop rate of health items from almost nothing to about a third which still isn't enough. You can also decrease the game speed and the speed of enemy projectiles. That helps but it's not as fun to play when everything's slowed down because it's supposed to be a fast-paced action game. Of course, you can make yourself invincible which I eventually did but that makes everything far less satisfying.
ScourgeBringer is a fun but extremely difficult roguelike that'll appeal to a very niche crowd. If you enjoy a soul-crushing challenge then go ahead but be warned; it's one of the most frustratingly difficult games out there and it punishes you heavily for your mistakes.
- + Fast-paced action that cleverly combines sword combat and gunplay
- + Controls feel great
- + Awesome rock music
- - Far too difficult even for genre fans
- - Accessibility options aren't effective enough
- - Fairly short with an underwhelming story