Fight An Endless Rebellion In 'Star Renegades', A Gorgeous Rogue-Lite RPG
People have been trying to take down the Imperium for years. The dastardly cabal has control of planets across the galaxy and they rule with an iron fist. Numerous rebellions have been put down but the fires of insurrection continue to burn. In Star Renegade, a tactical roguelike, you're leading the revolution and every time you fail, you'll have to start building those fires of dissent all over again.
Star Renegade is stuffed with different systems, but in broad strokes it's an RPG where you control a party of up to six heroes in procedurally generated adventures across different alien worlds. But there's so much more going on under the hood than that sketch of a description suggests.
Combat in Star Renegades may look like the turn-based party combat in classic JRPGs like the Nintendo-ero Final Fantasy games, but it's actually based on an innovative timeline system. The way it works is that the beginning of each turn the enemies you're fighting select their moves and those appear on a timeline at the top of the screen. You then choose moves for all your characters and they will appear on the timeline, too. Once you commit to your selection, all the different moves play out and the damage is calculated.
This initially simple system creates a huge amount of tactical depth. Say, for instance, the enemy you're facing is planning on using a very powerful attack that will kill one of your party. You can order your team to use fast light attacks that trigger sooner on the timeline than the enemy's attack, letting you kill them before it has a chance to fire on you. Or, it might be the enemy opts for something faster and you can select moves that interrupt or delay the enemy, meaning it goes last in the run order.
Much like 2018's Into The Breach, because you know your AI opponent's intentions at the start of a move, it makes every turn of combat into a puzzle to be solved. It should have you asking 'What is the best combination of moves in this moment to undermine the attack my enemy's attack?'.
Over the course of the game your heroes will gain experience and level up, but so too will your enemies. Much like the Nemesis System in Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War, the Imperium officers you meet in the campaign will evolve over time - climbing the ranks and developing new abilities. The system also reaches into your own party because if you lose a hero in a fight they may be captured and recruited by The Imperium. So you may find yourself fighting against old teammates, maybe even freeing them and re-recruiting them.
Developer Massive Damage is leaning heavily into these systems that change and evolve the game over time. Similar to the Adversary System, the Camaraderie System lets your heroes fall in love and have children, children you can recruit into your party in future rebellions. Your friends can become enemies and enemies friends. It's a game which will become more developed the more your play it. In time, your campaign will be largely distinct from every other player's.
I've somehow managed to get this far without talking about how damn good Star Renegades looks. The punky pixel art is packed with detail and character. Each of the heroes and villains looks like they could be the star of their own space opera, so having them all fight together is like having a super group of mercenaries. And while it appears to be 2D, it takes place on a 3D plane, so slight tilts of the camera give action in combat extra impact.
Star Renegades was easily one of the most exciting games I saw at Gamescom. It looks gorgeous and it's filled with fascinating systems. What I played was only a demonstration of what one adventure within a campaign might be. It will take a number of runs to see how the Adversary System and Camaraderie System inform and alter a campaign, but what I played has me itching to play more ahead of Star Renegade's release in 2020.
Featured Image Credit: Raw Fury