Review – Star Renegades

The roguelike genre is one of my favourites of all time. If done right, with an addictive gameplay loop, a good roguelike game could last dozens of hours, if not mode. The recently released Hades and Othercide are great showcases for the genre. Star Renegades, the latest game from Raw Fury and Massive Damage, comes really close to joining the all-stars of the genre, but sadly, it doesn’t quite hit the landing. 

This game is just gorgeous to look at.

Humanity is on the brink of collapse as the Imperium forces have invaded, a seemingly unstoppable force jumping between dimensions. After every defeat, J5T-1N will jump to the next dimension to warn them of the Imperium invasion in hopes they will be successful in stopping the Imperium. The story is really just to give the roguelike elements some context. It’s not overly interesting but there are some enjoyable character interactions every now and then. 

When exploring the game’s overworlds, you have three days before the behemoth arrives and the final boss battle of the planet begins. In those three days, you can break through up to three barriers which may include battles, supplies or both. You’ll need to carefully plan which areas you are opening up and it’s all about preparing for those final battles: levelling up your party and equipping them with better equipment all to prepare for the final boss. This, however, can result in the risk of you having less of your max HP for the final encounter, in this case you can actually skip to the areas boss at any point. 

After each of the days you will go into camp where you can spend cards to do a variety of things. Health boosts and things like damage modifiers are primarily the sort of cards you will gain access to and you only have a certain number of actions per night. As you spend cards on your party, their bonds will improving, resulting in a boost on their stats, even unlocking special attacks between two of them at certain levels. It’s a neat addition that forces experimenting with different renegades by building up their reputation to see what you can unlock as a result. 

Combat plays like an old-school Final Fantasy game. You and your part spawn on a battlefield with your enemies and pick from a list of abilities to perform in your turn. Much like the excellent Othercide though, Star Renegades implements a timeline system, so each attack will have their own place on the board. Deal certain attacks before an enemy, and you will be able to delay their attack allowing one of your characters to wind up an even more powerful attack. Deal enough damage and you can “break” their posture, skipping their turn all together. It’s an incredibly fun combat system. 

The relationship system is pretty neat.

Once you lose all your party members in battle (and you will, get ready for that), you don’t get reverted to a new checkpoint. This is a roguelike where starting over and over again is a key part of the gameplay loop. You will get sent back to the game’s hub world, where you can spend resources on new party members for your squad and other upgrades. After that, you can jump to another dimension and try again. To beat the game, you have to go through all four planets in one go, each one getting progressively harder in difficulty. 

The dimension jumping roguelike setting is, sadly, a missed opportunity. Star Renegades has a Mordor-esque Nemesis system, where enemies that you encounter may persist through multiple runs, so if they manage to retreat or defeat you they will grow stronger forcing you to mix things up. The problem is that these enemies don’t really have any personality, therefore not adding too much to the overall experience. Then you’ve got the procedural generation that can occasionally throw you into impossible encounters that your party is simply too unequipped to deal with. It’s not very satisfying having to start again due to this, especially since runs can last a while, and the opening sections can be tedious after a couple runs.  

Visually, Star Renegades is a surprisingly good looking game. The gorgeous pixel art designs are complemented nicely with a great usage of colours that makes the game pop. Another nice touch is the ability to fast forward through the game’s somewhat lengthy battle animations. Whilst the animations themselves are pretty good, you will be seeing them a lot, and the ability to fast forward with some visual flair is a nice touch and improves the gameplay’s overall flow. 

Planets final bosses can be a challenge, especially if you’re underleveled.

Thanks to its gorgeous art style and addictive combat system, Star Renegades is a wonderful game to get into. It could have been a must have for any roguelike enthusiast, but sadly, some of its mechanics and completely unfair procedural generation can occasionally result in some annoying runs that can bring the experience down a lot. If you’re still okay with some often frustrating runs every now and then, then go for it.

 

Graphics: 9.0

The colourful pixel art visual style is just glorious to look at. The animations are also pretty good.

Gameplay: 7.5

Star Renegades has a great turn-based combat system that is really easy to get into but difficult to master.

Sound: 7.0

The synth-heavy soundtrack is quite good, but it gets a bit repetitive after a while.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The unfair procedural generation can occasional bring down what could have otherwise been a very solid turn-based roguelike.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Star Renegades is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Star Renegades was provided by the publisher.