“Yer a Wizard ‘arry” is the first thing that comes to mind when opening up Rogue Islands, a brand new first person shooter published by Keystone in which players are tasked with exploring and surviving through a series of unrelentless and ever-evolving islands. While at first glance this game might look like Minecraft on crack, there’s way more to this game than its voxel aesthetic and that’s what makes this game stand out from the crowd.

Rogue Islands has players taking the role of a nimble druid who embarks on an adventure to the titular Rogue Islands a series of procedurally-generated islands teeming with different horrors intent on putting an end to your journey quicker than you can say “Isn’t this just Minecraft?” The thing is, Rogue Islands is a first person shooter roguelike which has players exploring these enemy-riddled islands to take down the Lords Of Torment.

While the game may have the same blocky aesthetic as Minecraft, the only real similarities here are the blocks. There’s no mining, there’s some crafting, but for the most part it’s a survival game where players must explore the islands and stay alive for as long as possible, however the entire game itself is out to get you as it evolves as you play challenging you each time you succeed. The game learns your play style and reacts accordingly, and that’s what makes this game incredibly refreshing.

Rogue Islands is relatively simplistic. Fight to survive, complete the objective, try not to starve, return to your ship and head to the next island. This rinse and repeat gameplay may seem a little tiresome, but due to no two islands being the same and the whole environment and enemies you face changing each time, there’s a lot going on that requires more attention than the game’s objective.

Despite having these objectives, the game is also relatively open-world as you’re free to explore the entire island stockpiling food for later, finding magic rocks used to improve your skills, or the fuel to power the boat in order to get to the next island.

The funny thing is, this game is incredibly easy to judge. Just like every other voxel-based game there are the comparisons to Minecraft. Is it just another clone? Hell no. The game is a blend between Dark Souls in terms of difficulty and survival, Don’t Starve in terms of ensuring you have food so that you don’t go crazy, as well as DOOM in terms of the fast-paced and fluid shooting.

At first the game does take a little bit of getting used to as the instructions aren’t overly clear, however after a good couple of deaths, the game eases up a little and allows you to find your footing. This is when things get interesting. As you become more familiar with the game, learn the enemies’ behaviour and act accordingly, you may find that on the next island, or the next time you die, things will change ever so slightly, you’ll find enemies come at you from behind more, or they’ll sneak up in droves, or they’ll be prepared for you to take flight and shoot you out of the air.

I’ll be honest, the game does throw everything at you when you begin and I really struggled to stay alive for longer than 15 minutes, but the more I progressed I could feel that the game started to be a little easier on me than before, which I can imagine most people won’t be that much of a fan of, so to counteract that, there are several modes to push the difficulty up a little more, like the game’s permadeath mode.

It’s an incredibly interesting and refreshing mechanic which may only be subtle, but it makes for a refreshing change, especially considering you’ll often encounter the same enemies over the course of your time with the game.

As mentioned, Rogue Island creates each world using procedural generation, however it’s one of the more impressive procedural generated games I’ve seen as each islandscape varies producing some of the most stunning and idyllic-looking landscapes I’ve seen in a voxel-based game. Everything is in proportion and there’s hardly any obvious chunks of land being thrown together. It’s all smooth and well put together.

The game’s only real downfall was the story as there’s really little drawing you into the reason why your little druid is exploring each of these islands. That being said, it really doesn’t take it away from the core of the game which I feel is the gameplay as this is definitely the most enjoyable part of the game as you can put hours and hours into this game and barely scratch the surface of the adventure you’re having. Sure, you can blast through each island in minutes if you’re skilled enough, but there’s just something about Rogue Islands that has you wanting to explore it a little deeper.

Rogue Islands has spent a good couple of weeks in Early Access during which the developers have listened to fan feedback and have tweaked certain aspects of the game, even up until a few days ago new updates were added to the game further tweaking the overall gameplay and adding slight health boosts for killing enemies.

Rogue Islands is a game which is the perfect example of a “don’t judge a book by its cover” game. Yes, it looks like another Minecraft clone, but what the game offers is way more than that. It’s a challenging adventure for survival, a first-person roguelike, and more.

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