Dizzle, Rain and Monsoon? What sounds like the weather forecast of London is actually something that has to do with an awesome game by Hopoo Games. Stay tuned for a review on my favourite game featuring a great soundtrack, some cool combat and a small risk of rain.
In today’s review, we’re taking a look at Risk of Rain (Trailer/Shop), a game developed by Hopoo Games, in which we crash on a mysterious planet where we have to fight through waves of monsters to get to the teleporter and…more about that later. I actually heard about this game about four years ago while following a blog called petebackwelcome with reviews on movies, games and all kinds of other stuff which I found really interesting. Later I bought this game since it got recommended by one of my favourite bloggers. And it didn’t take me all that long to find out about this game is one of my favourite games of all time!
So, let’s get started with the menu: Here we’ve got the option to choose between singleplayer and local or online co-op. The online multiplayer is a pain in the arse to set up, so we won’t bother with it all that much for now. In the singleplayer “Campagne” of this rogue-like title, you’re then able to choose between different characters that were on board the ship that just crashed. Once you’ve chosen one out of those twelve characters that all have different playstyles and skills, you’re basically set to choose the difficulty and artefacts.
These difficulties are Drizzle, Monsoon and Rainstorm. These are basically designed for newbies (Drizzle – it’s really easy but achievements and the like are disabled), casuals (Rainstorm – the normal experience) and hardcore-gamers/pros (Monsoon – quite hard at the beginning but once you get used to the game you’ll basically want to play this mode!). Artefacts are also available to make your game harder but I’ll explain those later as well.
At the start of the game, you only have one character available to unlock the other characters: The Commando. He’s basically an allrounder who’s not only able to deal good amounts of damage but also has two stuns in his kit and a dodge roll to mitigate damage that may have been taken. Once you start your run you’ll spawn in one of many procedurally generated biomes. Those biomes have similar layouts to each other but still work with a small number of tilesets, meaning that there are chests, shrines, and shops at different points of the level. You’ll start at level 1 and have to kill enemies to gain experience (to level up) and gold (to gear up). So, just like in most games, you’ll be looting and levelling to become stronger and beat more enemies and bosses. Items can get through those shrines, chests and shops but you always have to pay a price of gold for them. To get to the next level, you’ll need to find the teleporter and activate it so that the last few enemies and the boss of that level can spawn. Once you defeated the boss, you’ll be able to collect a new item, get rid of the last few enemies of the level and once you cleared those out, you’re free to either open the last few chests or just proceed to the next level. Proceeding to the next level however converts your gold to experience, leaving you with no gold in the next level.
Relatively early you’ll find out about a timer that can be found in the upper right corner. It shows you how long you’ve taken so far and increases the game’s experience based on the time taken. The longer you take, the stronger the enemies get. You’ll have to fight through more enemies and have to deal with elites that have different properties and more health. In the ideal scenario, you’d of course want to proceed even faster and get to the highest level possible asap, right? But that’s where you’re wrong as well since you’ll still have to level or else you’ll deal little to no damage to future bosses. So, naturally, you’ll have to find the right balance between farming mobs and speedrunning the levels.
The best way to get stronger is by getting items. These have a few different grades from uncommon to epic and can be found in chests and the like. There are active and passive items. Active items have to be used in order to deal damage, heal you or do other things like opening all chests nearby (there’s an achievement for that btw!). Passive items, on the other hand, are able to increase your stats, give you bonuses or other boosts which can be really helpful. Most of them also stack, so that you can get the same stats over and over again, like three syringes for three times the attack speed of a normal syringe. Opening a more expensive chest means having a higher chance of getting a higher grade item. While chests give you a random item from their loot table, bosses always grant you better items while shrines grant you a random item as well. To activate shrines, you’ll either have to donate gold or health in order to get a chance of getting an item. While this might sound like a huge gamble, there are actually strategies where you try to fail them a few times in a row to get increased crit chance with a certain item. On top of that, there are also shops that either already shows you the items you can purchase or question marks with a random item.
Once you start the teleporter, one out of ten bosses spawns. These range from the magma worm that jumps out of the ground and ignites the ground around its impact to the Colossus who’s quite tanky and able to spawn golems around him to the Imp Lord who also spawns enemies and shoots rays at you to the wandering vagrant, a flying creature that roams the map and attacks you freely while doing so. On higher difficulties, these bosses can also spawn as normal enemies or come in pairs or even in elite-versions with different properties to them than the normal version. Even if you slay the boss, you still have to wait for the teleporter to charge up taking longer depending on your difficulty (Dizzle, Rainstorm or Monsoon). In that period of time enemies are still able to spawn until the timer runs out. After that, you have to clear out all remaining enemies before getting to the next level via teleporter.
The best thing about Risk of Rain, however, is apart from its soundtrack the combat system. Each character has a normal attack, two normal abilities and an ultimate ability. While there are characters like the commando who is focused on shooting fast and dealing tons of damage while moving around a lot, there are also melee classes like the Enforcer who has a stun grenade and a shield that blocks enemy attacks that come from one side of him. There’s also a sniper and an engineer which also play differently. Overall every class feels unique and is insanely fun to play. Once you understand how to use your character, you’re getting better in the game quite easily and may as well try out higher difficulties and artefacts. What I really like about the system is that no matter how you die, it never feels unfair. You always know what kills you and how you should have positioned yourself. With enough items, you get overpowered quite fast but you’re still able to die quite easily.
Combat feels fluid since every character/class has some sort of gap-closing ability with invulnerability-frames and the ability to dodge attacks and fall damage and the like. You can play the game with the controller and the keyboard and while the controller feels more intuitive, I must say that the keyboard isn’t that unhandy. It still works.
Overall the experience is very spacey and positive. The soundtrack by Chris Christodoulou (Bandcamp/Steam) who’s also responsible for other games by Hopoo Games like Deadbolt and Risk of Rain 2 is absolutely awesome and even Total Biscuit (rest in peace at this point) paused his commentary for a while in his WTF is… Risk of Rain video to listen to this incredible soundtrack. My favourite track from the OST is Coalescence, a song found in the final level “Risk of Rain”, right before you encounter the final boss.
The soundtrack uses everything from drums and electric guitars to electronic elements and that’s why it’s able to create the perfect atmosphere for every level since every level is different. There are quite a lot of different biomes from a hive to highlands, from cold tundras to hot volcanos, from dry sandy areas to wet and overgrown jungles. The art style is using pixels but seems to have quite a lot of detail for every enemy, class and biome which adds to the overall atmospheric feel of this game as well.
But let’s quit the fanboying for now. What I really didn’t like about Risk of Rain was the fact that the multiplayer is a pain in the butt to set up. While the local multiplayer is easy to handle, I would have loved to play with friends that aren’t closeby, but I couldn’t since the multiplayer uses an IP-port-thingy that doesn’t seem to work – or at least you need to use third-party-programs to get it to run which I find quite bothersome since so many other games on steam use the steam friend-list to make it work. Luckily this isn’t the case in the sequel Risk of Rain 2 which only came out this year and makes use of your steam-friendlist. It would have been a great feature to have in the first game as well though.
But apart from the online-co-op, there’s another problem with the multiplayer. Whenever I tried out the local one, items and experiences didn’t get shared at all. This means that one player kills a mob and gets the experience and gold for that enemy kill while the other one doesn’t. The same goes for items from chests and shrines: One player can get them while the other one doesn’t, meaning that one player ultimately might end up under levelled or underpowered and struggles with enemies that are just stronger than him. When one player dies, the other player has to deal with more enemies on his own but then again gets the experience for himself only. In the next level, the second player respawns, though, so he may get some new items but is still underdeveloped, leading to the same problem. This problem has been solved in the sequel, too, where all experience is shared. Items still are only for one player but that isn’t a problem with the right coordination.
The problem could have been easily solved with an option of item/exp/gold-sharing that could just have been ticked on or off for the sake of more difficulty. But the two-headed team of Hopoo Games said themselves that they won’t work on that since the single-player shouldn’t be the shadow of the multiplayer, which I can understand.
Apart from that, there are not many other points that could be criticized, in my opinion. The game is fair, every character feels unique and strong on its own and I haven’t encountered any games in the game at all in all of the many hours that I put into the game. The game has quite a lot of replay value with fifteen steam achievements and a lot of other unlockables in the game such as new items, characters, artefacts and monster logs.
For those under you that want the extra challenge, you can opt-in for those artefacts that need to be unlocked in the game and that adds extra difficulty to the game. There are artefacts for basically anything. One for example makes corpses explode into bits, dealing huge chunks of damage to everything, another makes enemies (and you) run faster when at low health. My favourite artefacts are Glass and Command. Command allows you to choose the items, you’d get from the chests, while Glass gives you 500% damage but only 10% health – “glass-cannon-mode”, eh?
To sum it all up, I’d say that Risk of Rain not only has a lot of content but also a lot of fun prepared for every lover of the rogue-like genre. The presentation is great, the music is absolutely awesome and I’d really recommend it to everyone who likes games like Dead Cells and Gonner.
This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.