The Serpent Rogue is an isometric action-adventure game developed by Sengi Games and published by Team17. Our story follows The Warden, a mysterious alchemist garbed in plague doctor attire, on a journey to cleanse the realm plagued by the dastardly Serpent Rogue. Evil and corruption runs rampant, infecting anything it can get its grubbing hands on. Equipped with only his wits, The Warden must confront the Serpent Rogue to expel these atrocities and return the world and its inhabitants back to normal. Will you step up to the challenge and craft the perfect concoction or will your beaker fizzle out in times of need?
Exploration is key in The Serpent Rogue. Not only for your own survival, but utterly necessary to even start embarking on your quest to save the world. Early on, the world around you can be very cruel and your life can be taken in a blink of an eye. Thankfully, materials and consumables are scattered everywhere just waiting to be taken. Whether it is simply food, or an ingredient to be used in one of the various crafting trees, it is crucial to your success, so keep an eye out.
This game shows it difficult tendencies from the very beginning and the combat only emphasizes them even more. The Warden’s fighting skills are not great, and his fists do almost nothing to any adversaries that come its way. However, traditional weapons do not seem to help much either. Various items you find like the ax, shovel, and glass shards double as weapons and as exploration tools. Using any of them as weapons only provides a slight damage boost, but in return causes huge degradation to the item. Most of the time, I really hate the idea of weapon degradation in video games. I feel it adds an unnecessary burden on combat and causes more headaches than its worth. However, the fact that the usage bar goes down in both combat and exploration poses a question for the gamer on which is more important in this moment. Is it worth losing your ability to collect firewood for the stove to have a slight damage boost in combat? From my experience, using these as weapons made it harder for me in the long run, but everyone is different.
Another factor that makes this melee-based combat tedious is the stamina bar. I know stamina bars are in tons of games, but its inclusion isn’t the problem here. What makes it tedious is the gimmick behind the stamina bar. If you are at full health, everything works like normal. Swing your fists, you lose stamina and once you stop it starts refilling. However, once you take damage, the main way to refill your health is by taking chunks out of your stamina bar. You can use health potions, but in the beginning, they don’t heal for much. This leaves you struggling to choose whether you want to stay with your diminished health bar or rest and heal at the expense of eating away at your max stamina. Don’t even get me started on if you perish in battle. Not only does all of your supplies drop on death similar to the souls system in Dark Souls, but you are transported back to the last safe area with zero stamina.
Thankfully, the Warden seems to be a master in every craft out there, whether it be cooking, potion-making, or building. You name it, the Warden can do it, once he remembers his recipes. You see my favorite part of The Serpent Rogue must be the exploration and crafting. It includes various expansion crafting menus for cooking meals to replenish stamina, building contraptions to solve puzzles or collect more materials, or brewing potions to change forms and make combat more bearable. The first two are pretty standard, but crafting potions is taken to a next level and the most in-depth and engrossing part of the game. The level of detail and the problem-solving nature of brewing potions is what makes it such a good system. Sure, you can just slap a bunch of ingredients together and hope for the best, but most of the time you are just going to brew a useless, sloppy potion. The proper way to go about it is to scour the land for resources to take back to your lab to research their effects. Some components give health, some reduce, and some act as just base modifiers. These attributes allow you to think about what ingredients you will need to make this potion or that one and learn about the effective ways as you go.
The visuals and soundtrack pair perfectly with the atmosphere the story portrays. The world is a corrupted, eerie-looking landscape filled with monstrosities ready to put an end to your crusades. The dark and gloomy color palette emphasizes how down-on-their-luck the inhabitants are to be living in a place that is suffering from the inflictions caused by the Serpent Rogue. Every corner is filled with turmoil and the sights and sounds from it do not disappoint.
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started The Serpent Rogue, but it did leave a lasting impression on me. The game doesn’t hold your hand for one second and I even had to start over a couple times due to some mistakes I made. Holding too many items and dying in a place with little hope of collecting my wares, created a snowball effect that drastically affected my ability to continue on that save file. However, I am glad that I started over and gave it another go. While I would have loved to not have to begin again, it gave me the sense of rogue-like that they were aiming for. I knew I couldn’t hoard a ton of things on my person when I wanted to pick a fight, I knew the lay of the land a little bit better, and I knew what was too difficult for me to do from the beginning. The Serpent Rogue is one brutal game, but one that can be conquered, and people shouldn’t be discouraged by this beginning spike on trying out this interesting experience.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review.
Final Score: 8/10
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