Brogue gets it right
My first introduction to Roguelikes was ADoM, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve played it for hours, but I’ve rarely progressed beyond one or two quests / dungeons. It’s epic, but possibly a little too epic for players like me who can’t devote gads of time to develop a playing strategy that will get me anywhere near completion. The problem is the lighter Roguelikes I’ve played don’t come anywhere near providing the atmosphere that ADoM does, and it’s the atmosphere that makes the game so appealing to me. I even bore of the original Rogue after a while, with its spartan use of ASCII and super-simple feature set.
However, my estimation of other Roguelikes may have just recently changed with my discovery of Brogue thanks to a link from the Kharne blog. Simply put, I can’t recommend this game as highly as I ought to to get you to go play it. Unfortunately, it’s a Mac native game, and I can’t vouch for the Windows / Linux ports that the author links to. Let me whet your appetite enough so you go through the trouble of figuring out how to play it…
Brogue. It’s like Rogue in its simplicity, but it adds a level of visual appeal that I literally haven’t seen in any other Roguelike. It’s like ADoM in the way it shapes the atmosphere and mood of gameplay, but it requires far less attention and time to learn all the game mechanics. But don’t let the simplicity fool you… there are plenty of cool features to discover each play through!
For example, Brogue has a limited but fun set of monsters inhabiting its dungeons. There’s the monkeys that steal from your inventory and run away, the toads that cause you to hallucinate (displayed through some fun visual effects), and the acid blobs that corrode any unprotected weapons and armor upon contact. Even better, monsters will imprison their own kind and torture them. I literally walked into a room with a kobold tied up that was getting beaten by other kobolds. I dispatched them, freed the kobold, and gained a faithful friend. Brogue gets monsters and allies right.
Let’s not forget the brilliant dungeons you get to crawl, too. The use of various terrain tiles is quite fun, even if most are simply there for flavor. Still, don’t start a fire in the swamps or you might get an explosive surprise. Even better, in addition to terrain types, Brogue also adds cavernous pits that you can jump down to the level below and underground lakes inhabited by eels and krakens. Get into deep water and any unequipped items in your inventory might just float away to be recovered in the shallows. Then there are the molten lakes of lava that, well, you just don’t go there. Brogue gets dungeons right.
What about equipment? Well, the offering is admittedly simple, but that’s part of the appeal. You have one stat to track, strength. That will affect what weapons and armor you can equip. You can also find rings, staffs, wands, scrolls, and potions to dabble in the arcane. Everything you pick up will be unknown until it’s used or identified, so tread carefully… some potions when opened cause explosions and poisonous clouds of gas to envelop your player. I used a wand of obstruction on accident and was stuck for dozens of turns until the affect wore off. The localized area affect nature of these spells is pretty slick, and the visual presentation is very interesting. Brogue gets magic right.
I could go on, but I’ll stop there. This game is loads of fun, easy to get into, and a treat for the eyes. I highly recommend it and would simply say… beware the monkeys. They’re filthy pickpockets and deserve to be dispatched in their sleep.