Why does ScourgeBringer remind me of a narcissistic, gothic cleaner sent out to cause destruction? Too much movies, too many games, and an active imagination, that’s what.
ScourgeBringer is a no-brainer review as you know exactly what to expect the minute you have control over your character: this is a tough, tough game, but it’s one of those games that hooks you in, deceiving you into thinking you’ll do better on the next run. You won’t. Well, marginally.
That’s right, this is a rogue-lite, pixel art (ish) and on the Nintendo Switch. It has a heap of other titles to contend with, so does this stand out and leapfrog the rest, or should you leave it in the pile?
ScourgeBringer Switch Review
While I say pixel art, it’s more low-key, with a restricted colour palette that knows precisely how to do enough to make the game look nice, but allows you to concentrate on the gameplay and no gimmicks.
But closer inspection (not that you’re given much time), and you’ll notice that the animation is excellent, the soundtrack is fine too, but what makes this a standout title, for me at least, is the superb controls.
I’ll level with you: I don’t really like this genre too much. It’s often a little too hard and the rewards infrequent enough to stick it out. There’s been a few exceptions – Neon Abyss was a title I enjoyed, but that’s because it has plenty of power-ups and quantifiable gain.
ScourgeBringer, from Flying Oak and Plug In Digital, doesn’t have that same… safety net, so to speak. Death really does feel harsh when you lose everything, but the claustrophobic rooms leave little scope for a drawn-out experience, meaning you can jump straight back into the action and keep drilling until you get it right.
This Place Feels Familiar
The levels look the same, yet they aren’t. Looking at my map, I go the route from my last run, and while the enemies appear to be the same, the room is different and their behaviour opposite to before (other than them wanting to kill me).
Survival is paramount, and you’ll not do that by winging it, but by connecting some of the most effortless combos I’ve experienced within the genre. Your character, Khyra, has a melee and a ranged attack (upgrades naturally are available offering better range, power, etc.), but the best ability was her dash.
She can leap through the sky in any direction, swipe at an enemy until their death, then attack the next minion in wait as if you were doing a dot-to-dot puzzle. It’s so enjoyable when it’s going well as it handles like Katana Zero – a game I adore.
Most enemies can take a few hits until you move to the next, but others spawn as if a wave, and there’ll be harder hitting characters that can take a hit. On this basis, you can do a hard hit to stun them, get to safety then blast with a ranged attack with the right stick.
Exposition, But There’s No Time
In summary, an Independence Day-style alien ship hovers over the world and causes mayhem. This ship is the ScourgeBringer and Khyra is sent from a long line of warriors to investigate and find out what it wants, hopefully providing a resolution for her people.
Khyra’s power comes from blood, a souls equivalent, and she can use this with in-game merchants to receive better gear and buffs at Altars of Blood. Unfortunately, you lose these on death and can’t retrieve them, but you can retain the blood from the bosses, or Judges to permanently increase your stats.
The skill tree is pretty diverse, and you can learn some devastating moves, applying them from your basepoint, the Chiming Tree. When it comes to the reality check though, these permanent increases only come from the bosses. While they make the game significantly better as earlier sections become easier, you have to beat them first.
The speed of ScourgeBringer is pretty ferocious, but I couldn’t have it any other way. That’s not to say I’m good at it, but I much prefer the fluidity on offer here than a slower response. When combat works in your favour, the controls feel like an extension of yourself, but mis-time a move or have an enemy spawn in front of you unexpectedly, and a run can prematurely end.
Oh, You Rogue
For someone who doesn’t like the genre much, you could probably surmise a few things about my taste, which I think is transparent. My reasoning is the difficulty is often off-putting with a lack of rewards; the second is they are two-a-penny. I could play several point and clicks each week and wouldn’t tire, but that’s one of my preferred genres.
While ScourgeBringer doesn’t have that non-death experience of those above, the rewards are plentiful. If you persevere. The obvious one would be the permanent stat increases you receive, but that takes repeated efforts.
From my experience, it’s the incredibly satisfying combat and the speed it is executed with. To the average onlooker, they would watch you play in awe thinking you have cat-like reflexes when in reality, Flying Oak Games have just made a really really good game when it comes to controls and satisfaction.
The aspect I need to draw your attention to would be the difficulty. This is one of the most challenging games I’ve played of late, and with in comparison to other genres – hell, even other rogue-lites, this is one of the most brutal, yet enjoyable of the bunch.
- Fantastic handling with responsive controls.
- Permanent upgrades (if you can earn them).
- Despite the limited palette, a nice-looking game.
- Timing is everything.
- Stupidly hard in places.
- While levels differ, they do feel the same.