03/01/2020

๐Ÿ•ฏ️⚔️ Rift Keeper | Review | PS4 | "Rogue-Rogue-Rogue Your Boat" ⚔️๐Ÿ•ฏ️ #GameDev #RiftKeeper #IndieGames

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"A Rogue-like title that is initially interesting and atmospheric but ends up feeling too unrewarding to really stick with."
Rift Keeper casts you as a mysterious, masked man doomed to travel through various portals in a bid to battle his way through multiple dungeons…which will take a while.
A game which has hints of Castlevania in its medieval-gothic-fantasy setting – as well as the initial starting weapon being a whip – the rogue-like mechanics, unfortunately, ground me down rather quickly.

Visually, the game has a very retro ‘Windows’ feel that I clicked with straight away. It feels like a neat indie title and runs quite well with the soundtrack being comprised of surprisingly energetic music which, whilst not totally in keeping with the tone that the aesthetic sets,  does fit the pace of the game.
The game begins in the hub town which houses a few stalls that deal in collectables and the usual weapons/armour/items (there’s also a strange man who amusingly comments on constantly seeing you run past him over and over again which is a nice touch).
Following this, you enter a church with a portal which will cast you into the first of the dungeons where you must defeat a certain percentage of enemies in order to be able to escape back to the town, all the while collecting cash and pick-ups.
Succeed and you reach the town to restock, buy more goodies and then dive back in…fail, and you lose all items collected up to that point and a chunk of your gold. 
The problem is that whilst the game is initially fun, the punishment on death often feels unfairly balanced.

There are quite a few different enemy types roaming the dungeons but whilst they are visually distinctive they all have similar AI, which boils down to the melee enemies running towards you and attacking or the ranged enemies standing still and firing. Whilst this is pretty standard in a 2D game, it feels a bit robotic and some enemy placement on narrow platforms  (including one ‘barrow’ enemy that explodes on contact, taking around 80% of your life) means that as you climb platforms to reach them (you can’t attack in the air) you will get hit, and this cheapens the experience.
The gameplay doesn’t have the depth to stand up to the level of grind that Rift Keeper expects, losing all your items is one thing but the chunk of your gold as well makes progress very incremental and when combined with the aforementioned cheap deaths, the experience can be gruelling and lacks a sense of reward for your time.
Honestly, I feel that the game would have been much improved had it been a linear, mapped experience as opposed to a rogue-like.

In summary, the distinctive retro visuals and interesting music aside, the enemy placement and restrictive controls combined with the grind of the game made my interest wane quickly, which was a shame as there are some nice moments here. 

I would really only recommend this if you are a die-hard fan of rogue-like games and fancy a serious grind.
๐Ÿ’ง❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️๐Ÿ’ง

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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