Streets of Rogue is a top-down roguelike where you go through a city gone mad to unseat a corrupt mayor. I really liked this game when I first played it, and I’ve recently got back into it to do dumb, poorly optimized speedruns. Recently, I got an email telling me that the developer’s created a pack of new characters to play as, so I hopped on that. This is a weirdly hyper specific thing for this blog to write about, but here are my impressions of those new characters.
The Goon character type is the generic jobbers that you find guarding buildings all throughout the game. And now, you too can be a complete jobber! And to be honest? The Goon doesn’t seem that good.
The Goon only has one thing in their starting load-out: a pistol. They do not get a melee weapon alongside it even though the Goon enemies are just as likely to wield them as they are pistols.
Goons start out with two traits: Wrong Building and Blends In Nicely. I forget if the Wrong Building trait was already in the game before the pack, but it basically means that if you’re in a building where people are hostile to you, they’ll just be annoyed. Combined with Blends In Nicely (reduces range at which people sees you), you can try sneaking into buildings and you’ll always have another chance to sneak in if you’re caught as long as you don’t make people too mad. It’s an okay moveset, but… I really don’t think it fits what a Goon entails.
This is especially apparent on Big Quests. The Goon’s unique Big Quest is that there is now an extra quest on the map where you can defend a place from a wave of enemies. If you clear through the wave you get your extra Big Quest experience, and if the person that hires you survives, you get some extra money. The owner of the building and anyone aligned with them will also become allied to you. On the surface, this is some nice stuff.
However, in practice, there are some hiccups. For instance, because the Goon doesn’t start with No In-Fighting – which they honestly really should – you can accidentally harm your allies. And given that the fights will happen in cramped buildings and hallways, this is an inevitability. You can try avoiding this by trying to kill advancing invaders before the person that hired you throws themselves in the ring, but also, the game spawns a surprising amount of enemies. You will get serious money on variations with lots of attackers, but again, that’s provided if the person that hired you actually survives the encounter. And honestly, good luck surviving the encounter yourself.
The Goon doesn’t get any really good things that fits their playstyle and the thing that makes them unique just summons people to beat their ass. It’s an uphill battle with little upside. Personally, I think that they should also get a melee weapon and have No In-Fighting as a perk to make the Big Quests easier; this also might be asking for a lot, but anything that can get you more ammo like a Kill Ammunizer would be good, because trust me, you’ll run out of pistol bullets really quick. Overall, I think their whole deal needs some more balancing.
The Demolitionist had me doing a Joker smile the whole time. As the name indicates, their whole playstyle revolves around explosives. They start out with Blaster Survivor (immune to explosions you cause) and Master of Disaster (experience for destroying objects) for traits and their Big Quest is destroying a set amount of wall tiles in a floor.
As expected, they start with a bunch of explosives. The Demolitionist introduces remote explosives, which you can plant and detonate as long as you got the detonator on you. They also have an item that processes unwanted items into more remote bombs like the FUD and Ammo Processors, so there’s a way to get more without having to shell out money. For starting weaponry, they have Land Mines and can stick Door Detonators, which encourages underhanded ways of killing people, which contrasts with the general playstyle of, well, loudly blowing things up.
Doing the Big Quest is actually harder than it looks, especially since the remote explosives have a small blast radius that makes them more like breaching charges. Your most helpful tool for clearing them is the Explodevice, an item that makes all electronic objects on the screen explode. From there you’d have to look for something like a casino to make maximum use of it, though you’d have to be prepared for the fallout because NPCs will somehow figure out you’re the cause of the explosions if they catch you around.
Overall? Fun character with some reasonable challenge. Blaster Master – which can let you destroy steel walls – is an essential trait for the Demolitionist if you want more effective explosions.
This is where the game gets weird. So, the Alien can’t fight for shit because they start with the Nearly Harmless trait, which prevents them from even holding a weapon; though, they are also sturdier with Slippery Target and Fireproof Skin. They can’t speak English, so most methods of shopping is out the window.
What makes the Alien special however is that they have a mind control ability. Hit an NPC with a brain blast and you can control their movements within the range of the screen. Walking them offscreen breaks control, as well as getting attacked. NPCs you controlled will turn hostile, but they will be dizzy for a few seconds afterward for you to make a getaway, so it is effectively a stun as well.
There are a lot of neat applications of the mind control ability. For instance, if there’s a locked door, you can simply control the key holder to open it for you. Want to clear a path through a hostile building? Control one or multiple people, get them to fight everyone else within range, and then throw them in the path of a deadly trap to dispose of them; or, if there’s no traps present, just put them far away and relinquish control to get away while they’re dizzy. It’s disorienting when you’re trying to control multiple people, but I sincerely think it’s fun. Real good shit.
The Alien’s Big Quest is surprisingly straight forward. You have to raid the various machines on the level to get ship parts. The only challenge with this is that if a machine is indoors, raiding it will piss off the building owner; police also don’t take kindly to some weirdo tampering with their stuff. Overall, a very interesting character to use.
The Courier is another unusual one. In the midst of the grand roguelike journey, the Courier still has to work a side hustle. Such is life.
The Courier moves around in rollerblades, quickly picking up speed in any direction and bouncing off walls. It can take some getting used to, but the Courier is easily the fastest moving character in the game. Further helping is that they got the Graceful perk, which means that they can speed through building floor traps and lasers with no hassle, so infiltrating buildings with them could be a breeze.
If things don’t go well, they also have a Quick Escape Teleporter in their loadout to bounce you to safety. They’re kinda average at fighting, but if you don’t feel confident about a situation, you can use Walkie Talkies from your load-out to sic a cop on people like a narc. Now, sure, they don’t start with proper weapons on their own, but really, do you need one if you can efficiently run away from encounters?
You can start their Big Quest on a level at any time. Upon hitting up Not-Postmates, the Courier is put on a timer to zip around the level, delivering packages to certain people. Successfully delivering one extends the timer, and after a few is delivered, the Big Quest automatically ends. You can’t be a wiseass and just teleport, because that’ll just break the package and end it immediately. You have to deliver a set amount of packages on each stratum of the game, so it’s okay if you miss a few on a level.
And the best part about all that is that you do get paid for every package you deliver, so really, you’re missing out if you don’t even attempt to do the Big Quest. On traits, I think Slippery Target can compliment the Courier’s ability to dodge out of danger. And honestly? I think that they should have Wrong Building, because within the context of the Courier it reads like a confused mail courier getting lost and entering the wrong locations.
On their own, the pilot is weak. Their combat stats are awful, though their Skinny Nerdlinger perk is at least good at keeping people away. They also have Sucker in that shops hate them and will charge them more for items.
But what makes the Mech Pilot shine, however, is of course the mech. When they get in the mech, their combat stats jump up past the max. They have the special ability of shooting with a laser cannon, which is a weapon that recharges shots over time. It also gets the Tank-like trait that decreases knockback. For negative traits though, it’s Bulky – the pilot cannot cannot fit into buildings and the speed will always be set at 1 within the mech. It is also obviously Loud, so sneaking around is a no-go.
The Mech Pilot has two extra traits that factor into their Big Quest. Their Big Quest is (looks at notes) extrajudicially killing all the criminals on the level. Alright. Scumbag Slaughterer is one perk you have, which makes all your targets hate and want to kill you on sight – which is honestly fair? The second perk is Cops Don’t Care, which means that any crimes committed in the mech suit will be ignored by the police. So, hey, this truly is the fascist character. Streets of Rogue‘s hashtag Resistance really does accept anyone, huh?
While powerful, the mech can take a beating. Healing the mech requires using the oil container item. It does not heal in any other way, not even through level ups (which will just heal the pilot), so you’ll be in constant need of spending money to refill the oil container for repairs.
The Mech Pilot is a fun powerhouse with some reasonable restrictions to keep them from being broken. For traits, I recommend getting Wall Walloper, because if doorways aren’t big enough for the mech, you can always make your own.
Ending things off, we have the Bouncer. The Bouncer also gets a unique mechanic, but it’s one that will make people mad – which is probably the point. Throughout the whole game, the Bouncer must escort a Musician whilst trying to clear a level’s objectives. It’s actually really weird because… I honestly think the Bouncer and the Goon should be swapped? Like, when the Musician NPCs show up in the later stratum, they’re being accompanied by the super versions of Goons while Bouncers exclusively guard places.
The Musician follows you around, even in clearly dangerous situations. While aligned with you, the Musician will not fight for you unless they’re struck, and you can’t tell them to stand still; you probably can’t, either, because the Bouncer is inexplicably wearing a vest that shocks them if you’re too far from the Musician. So, they’re hardly the permanent party member you’d think, because they’re really not a team player.
At one point, the Musician will ask to hit up an establishment on the level. If you don’t escort them over, they turn into one of those people from those Open America rallies and start attacking you for inconveniencing them. You’ll be forced to kill them, which is… okay, because the Bouncer has a blood transfusion kit that’ll let them revive the Musician in return for their own health. For the Big Quest, the Musician needs to die as few times as possible, so you’ll constantly need to look after them.
It’s not all bad, though. The Bouncer gets Tank-like, Disturbing Facial Expressions (increases chances of enemies running from battle) and Kneecapper (chance to inflict slow on struck enemies). They also have a move that stuns all enemies around them in exchange for some health, which is pretty useful, even if you’d be constantly running on low health because of the Musician’s demands – stuff that helps out their health can really help on Bouncer runs.
The Bouncer is an unusual character, for me. I hate playing as them, but it’s clear that that feeling is intentional. The Bouncer feels like a “hard mode” character for people experienced with the game in a way that doesn’t feel arbitrary (like, say, the Goon).
Overall, the Streets of Rogue character pack brings a fresh set of characters to the table with some neat new gimmicks to keep the gameplay fresh. And the Goon. Really, they’re the only sore spot I have in that they don’t bring anything new to the table and has nothing good on their own. Otherwise, it’s neat and if you’re into Streets of Rogue like I am, I recommend picking it up.