7 people found this review helpful
Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 8.8 hrs on record
Posted: Oct 2, 2018 @ 1:12pm
Product received for free

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Haque is a turn-based roguelike dungeon-crawler in a glitchy world filled with strange ideas and curious descriptions. There's randomization everywhere and plenty of opportunities to die around each corner. There are so many minute details that it is difficult to wrap my mind around the content of this game from what I have seen so far. I am astounded by the quality of the game overall.

Gameplay
The game has a very nice interactive tutorial to teach you the basics to get started. What hardly does is tell you about all the nuances that you need to learn to do well. Nonetheless, you will find spending a few minutes very useful prior to jumping into the dungeon. Here is a video of the game tutorial:
https://youtu.be/6ky8C_Zlaqo

As you start your new adventure, you will be presented with three randomly generated characters, randomly chosen in terms of character race, class, accompanying pet, and the dungeon that you will be exploring. The equipment for these characters seem to be also somewhat random as well.

Once you have made your selection, you then start at the the beginning of the dungeon, with the first floor always easy and small, for orienting yourself with the controls, graphics, tools at your disposal if you have taken some break from the game.

In fact, the first level is usually a facade that puts you at ease before the rest of the game makes you sweat. The game is very difficult. Usually not too much up to the first boss, and the first boss is doable for me so far. But after the first boss, I find the difficulty ramps up quickly and I am scratching my head trying to get on by every level. (There seems to be a strong enemy guarding each gate out of the floor after the first boss.)

Be prepared to die a lot. Seriously. If you are not familiar with the game or playing a class you are not used to, you can die even faster. Sometimes it feels like an never-ending race against my own held breath. Which comes first, my respirations or my in-game death? Seriously debatable, especially when I started.

I love that this game comes with a pet/familiar of sorts. You always have one to start, and you take that familiar with you for the entire run. Your pet comes in the form of a cat, a dog, a skull, etc. They each have some unique abilities that they can use, and they pretty much act on their own. If you click on you familiar, you can choose between three preset AI for the familiar. You can toggle between offensive, defensive, and brain (smart) modes. If your pet dies before the end of the level, it will become a ghost and revive at the next level.

Speaking of moving between levels, you get two health potions in the beginning and you can use them on yourself or your pet. After you move to the next floor, they are refilled. After beating the first boss, I got another health potion, which is nice, but it wasn't enough to keep me alive in the levels after that because of the increased difficulty levels. One thing I found out later is that if you don't use the potions, they turn into "Crystal Residue" in your inventory and this becomes a consumable healing item with a heal-over-time effect, which is very useful. Because moving to the next level offers some degree of healing for both you and your pet, you may consider saving your potions and letting them transform instead of using them before leaving a floor.

There's an interesting crafting mechanism involving a smithy that you run across from time to time. You can combine two items and get another one out. It's good to sit down and try a bunch of different combinations. You never know what you might get out of what items you have.

Also, the shop system is a purely barter system. You can choose some items from your inventory to trade with the shopkeepers for what they have. The percentage of having a actual trade going through is displayed, so you have some idea. If you try and fail multiple times, or you try to steal something, the shopkeepers will no longer want to deal with you.

The game does have an ending I hear, I hope to see it some day! (There are other game difficulty settings available, including a scroll-bar for "Spiciness" but I will just stick with the very bland version, thank you!)

The one thing that takes this game away from being a true rogue-like is the big golden chest before you fight a boss. This chest you can put in good items/gear that you have found and are not using, and in turn, you can save them for a later run when you might be more desperate.

Even though you can save at any time after a floor, after you continue that run to the end, you will need to start another run.

Controls
The game works best with the use of a mouse, I found. The game can be played using mouse only, with the additional shortcuts on a keyboard, or controller. The controller controls work very well and I had no issues in playing with it, but the cursor often is helpful in ways that is not all inclusive in the controller function, such as looking at an item on the ground or looking at an enemy that's on a tile farther away. In addition, character selection allows for more detailed viewing of inventory contents and skill breakdown with the use of a mouse.

Graphics and Music
Old school CRT look that can be turned off (fortunately). While I don't mind this traditional look with the scanlines simulated, the fact that it shows a dusty monitor was driving me nuts. I kept on trying to brush off dust from my monitor and nothing would come off!

With this simulated look, of course the rest of the graphics is very fitting. The pixelated look is pretty fantastic. And the animations are really well done I think. It truly has an old-school look and feel.

Music sounds fairly relaxing and the sound effects are close imitations of 8-bit console games.

Audience
The very young audience might not appreciate it. If you don't like permadeath, stay away. This game offers more in death than in being alive.

Bugs Encountered
-Tutorial crashes if you try to access your pet inventory before you get your pet. This occurred while using the trigger buttons on the gamepad. The issue is not present anywhere else, especially not in the main game, because you always have a pet/familiar.

Conclusion
Haque is a fantastic roguelike with nice pixel artwork and very challenging turn-based gameplay. The mechanics are set up well to reward every little detail you learn about the game as you move from run to run, without actually changing the difficulty of the game itself. Runs are easy to start because you choose a randomly generated character out of 3 options, and then off you go! There is really nothing I don't like about this game, so I wholeheartedly will recommend this. And I am looking forward to playing it more!

The following video shows some short runs and early deaths just to show you some gameplay elements:
https://youtu.be/9wAV4dbvP6w

I received the product for free. I did not receive any compensation to write this review. The opinions represented here are entirely my own and were not influenced in any way.
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