Video game review: Overrogue – Sequential Planet
Developer: Exe Create Inc.
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Also available for: PlayStation 4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X
When I started playing Overroguea deck-building roguelite with a spooky underworld theme, my immediate first thought was “that’s just kill the arrow but excited. Granted, there are a lot of things it does very similarly, like negate damage with shields that go away on the next turn, and gather relics to grant you bonuses just for the current run (relics show even on a line starting at the top left of the screen), but as I progressed I started to see more and more ways it differentiated itself – some good, some not, but all adding up to equal a game with its own personality distinct from the thing that very obviously inspired it. Honestly, it’s not even that exciting – if anything, kill the arrow might be the more exciting of the two.
The protagonist of Overrogue is Sael, the vampiric son of the 444e Overlord of the underworld – but not exactly the prince of the underworld, as the story centers on the “Overlord Selection Battle”, a contest devised by the current Overlord to choose a successor. After an eventful first foray into one of the dungeons designed by his father for the Selection Battle, Sael finds himself engaged to a demon doll and works alongside an excitable wolf who helps him fight through the various dungeons. that stand between him and the crown.
The doll and the wolf create the biggest difference between Overrogue and other deck-building roguelike-slash-lites I’ve played which is all about having a group of characters as opposed to just one. Each character has slightly different stats – Narba the wolf is faster but more fragile while Elize is slower and more tanky with Sael as the middleman between them – and starts each dungeon with a unique relic that affects only their. The party is organized at all times into a front-mid-rear formation which determines who takes damage – unless an enemy’s attack targets everyone, only the front line will be hit. The formation can be rotated at any time for the cost of one energy, which slightly heals the character moving back and forth (with diminishing returns per turn) and may alter the behavior of certain cards.
The need to balance party health while making sure you have enough energy to actually use the cards in your hand creates an extra layer of strategy not present in kill the arrow or other single-character deck builders, and I’m happy to say it works quite well. Other than that, the flow of the base game is very familiar. The player selects a “theme” for their deck at the start of most series which dictates the card pool, which in turn dictates what kinds of decks can be built on that series (if luck allows). The synergy of card choices is of course essential for successful runs, as is being able to adapt well when you don’t get the perfect choices, but for the most part you don’t need to put your deck together just to succeed. It’s the same story for artifacts; the starter set and pool change (mostly) with each theme, and sometimes you’ll be unlucky enough to just be a little screwed up, but most tracks are salvageable. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
That said, the game’s balance seems to be crafted in a way that, like many KEMCO-produced titles, encourages the player to give in to microtransactions that will speed up the grinding process. Completing races rewards the player with both “blightstones” and “demon coins”, which enable the purchase of “Sagan Gacha” roles and certain permanent boosts for the party. The Sagan Gacha is how new cards and relics are added to the various themes, as well as how the player acquires stickers that give characters permanent boosts or even allow cards to start at enhanced levels when they are acquired during the races. Personally, I didn’t think saving for reels using entirely gambling means was that bad, but I have unusual patience, so it still counts as a point.
Overrogue the story isn’t anything special, but it’s quite charming. As stated earlier, I initially thought the writing was going to be weird and vaguely exciting in a particularly lively way that was largely due to the presence of certain tropes. The writing, thankfully, moved away from that, however, and actually ends up being quite funny and heartwarming. I found the descriptions of the relics, which are all items from the human realm brought to the demon realm through a magic hole, particularly amusing in how demonic society misinterprets things about them. While the characters aren’t the most memorable in the world, their antics and more serious moments are entertaining enough as long as the story lasts, only growing further and further…even if the effect is somewhat hampered by the limited visuals of the game.
I feel the need to mention a few flaws in the game’s presentation, most notably in the game’s slightly awkward translation. Normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning it except in passing, because unless something is so badly translated that you can’t follow what’s going on at all, reporting it seems pedantic and mean-spirited, but in this case, there are real gameplay ramifications. It doesn’t happen often, but I did come across a few cards and artifacts whose effects weren’t entirely clear from their description language, and it ended up ruining this run. The music is extremely simplistic and repetitive to the point of being aggravated, especially in urban areas. It’s a pretty simple fix, of course, you just need to mute your game (which I do frequently with roguelikes anyway to listen to podcasts or music while I’m playing), but I m would be sorry not to tell you that you will be want to play with the volume muted.
A final note on a weird aspect that I discovered largely by accident: there doesn’t seem to be an option to pause the game mid-dungeon in the game itself, but closing the app allows the player to circumvent this. The app crashed on my PlayStation 5 several times while I was playing, but thankfully the autosave is such that I never lost much progress. Do whatever you want with it.
However Overrogue By no means the next game-changing, genre-shattering deck-builder to hit the scene, it’s certainly better than average and would make a nice addition to any collection enthusiast of the genre. If you’re one of those players, add this one to your pile and draw it on a rainy day.
Overrogue shuffles the cards just enough to make it worth playing amidst a genre stacked with excellent titles.