Ok let’s get this out of the way: I played and spoke with one of the devs of Rogue Star Rescue, and he even laughed it off that he wears the inspiration of Enter the Gungeon (EtG) on his sleeve. The comparison is inevitable, but I think Rogue Star still stands strong with its more open design towards multiplayer and tower defense infusions. Managing ammo, money, and traps is a delicate balance, and the bullet spreads are a plenty. The other notable thing is I believe this game can be considered much more approachable than EtG, while offering a challenging difficulty that rivals some of the toughest encounters in EtG. I’m especially excited because Rogue Star Rescue achieves all of this despite being very early on in its lifetime. There is a lot of potential for growth, and I am totally here for it. I was glad to be able to convey some grievances and talk out some mechanics as the game balance between some weapons, and the way information is provided can be a tad confusing. Nevertheless, I am positive that these guys can take the criticisms with stride and deliver a truly spectacular game.
Rogue Star Rescue is pretty simple when it comes to its game modes, there’s a story mode that can be played solo, couch co-op, or online co-op. When you start a run, you have a small budget to buy upgrades, traps, or other goodies. Afterwards you move to a map inspired by Star Fox, there are different level route branches after you complete the first level, an easy, medium, and hard route. If you are able to complete the hard route on the highest difficulty, insane, that’s quite the achievement! After you resolve the map screen, you are transported into the level with an empty map. What I particularly love is that the map will automatically populate itself as you move around AND allow you to teleport to any position you have uncovered. You don’t need specific warp points, I really mean ANYWHERE. This can be particularly handy if you space out pickups to address after you clear out the level.
Those who have played Binding of Isaac and EtG will feel mostly at home; level layouts are procedurally generated and enemies drop either currency or chests to be accessed via keys. Traps can be found as well and that’s a big defining factor in Rogue Star Rescue, the last room of each level is a tower defense horde fight where you survive waves of enemies leading into a boss fight. There aren’t shops to access during missions, so careful planning and resource management between levels is a major factor while playing the game. Back in your home base, you can spend currency towards topping off your trap inventory or even upgrading them. I found the turrets and walls most handy, but blocks helped shepherd enemies through my death traps, slows helped boost the DPS of my turrets/walls by making sure enemies couldn’t run out of range, and spikes… well they’re kinda the odd one out but they’re supposed to deal more damage on average and are cheap. The other unique thing Rogue Star Rescue offers that might help players who feel like they aren’t progressing in the roguelike aspect of the game is the use of level-ups to permanently increase stats such as health, move speed, damage, and much more. There are also timed distress signals that force you to navigate rooms relatively quickly to rescue NPC characters or sometimes NPC’s might provide a mini-objective to complete during your current mission. These sidequests can help you recruit AI controlled allies to fight alongside you or provide other treasures or currency.
So quick summary of controls: 8-way aim and shoot, jetpack (which provides invincibility and a chance to navigate around bullet curtains), reload, grenade throw, and your map button. Balance is a bit shaky at times, as some weapons feel a tad too slow to be worthwhile, and depending on who you ask, the jetpack may be wildly overtuned. Granted, the difficulty curve does really ramp up, especially if you opt for the harder branches, but I would say most encounters felt fair. In higher difficulties there are some rooms that may be a tad too reaction heavy, but I think it’s mainly a matter of learning the enemy mobs and attack patterns. Aiming is tight, movement is smooth, and dodging is very lenient with plenty of cover to maneuver behind.
All in all, I really enjoyed Rogue Star Rescue. I feel like I’ve been pretty tough on some of the last few reviews, but I am very satisfied with the fundamentals and baseline of Rogue Star Rescue. There are some quality of life changes like clearer item descriptions that I think could help ease the learning curve a tad, or a clearer definition of interactable objects vs background flourishes. I think with some balance patches that can make select weapons more viable, this could be a brilliant solo/co-op experience that I can wholeheartedly recommend. As of now though, I’m happy to say that while not flawless, RSR is in a good place and can only go up from here.
Rogue Star Rescue is developed by Chute Apps
Available on Steam for $14.99 and is leaving Early Access on Feb 4th, if you’re interested in it at all, go ahead and pick it up and give them feedback, otherwise wishlist it so you get a reminder when it leaves early access.
Provided copy for review by dev
Hellfirebam has readily awarded Rogue Star Rescue the Indie Gamer Seal of Approval