Metaverse Keeper is a fairly fun dungeon-crawling roguelite in Early Access right now. It has some good ideas and the design of the game is great. Some features definitely need to be improved with further development to increase this title's longevity. Currently the build has a decent amount of content, lots of upgrades available, and 4 playable characters (2 available at the start and 2 to unlock.) If you have played Enter the Gungeon you will see a lot of similarities between the two, but at the same time, the differences are drastic too. While I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this game like I can with the other title mentioned, I still think it shows a lot of promise and it is worthwhile looking for future updates to see if a lot of the issues are addressed that would make the game better.
A lot of the weapons, special attacks, etc. are clearly well thought out and took time to put together. They are not just all items of the same type with a stat change and a different overlying skin. They actually do fundamentally different things and have significantly different effects. Plus a lot of the weapons and special attacks are quite funny. It is unclear what kind of synergies there exist from my short time playing, but since you can only have one weapon at a time with a bunch of character modifiers in the form of computer chips, I really haven't seen a ton that is based on your weapon.
It is a roguelite in that in between runs, you can spend your hard-earned cassette tapes to give yourself some permanent unlocks to make your next run easier. There are two places for unlocking stuff in the main game lobby between runs, one machine gives permanent unlocks to all of your characters, the other only gives upgrades one at a time. There's a third shop (to be unlocked where you can also spend your tapes.) The cassette tapes are relatively difficult to come by, they are usually there after boss fights and also in challenge room chests. You need to accumulate a good number of cassette tapes in order to go through the unlocks. If you happen to be really good at this game, you can earn a lot of tapes in one run. But for most people they will be very slow to accumulate.
The biggest drawback that would make a lot of people instant-hate this game is the 4-directional combat. And this is the particular reason I prefer to play melee in this game. I cannot stand the 4 cardinal directions only as I fire at enemies, but enemies can fire from anywhere on the screen at me. Sure, I want to be able to fire in all directions too, but even 8 directional firing would make me a lot happier. This automatic self handicap is absolutely absurd in trying to overcome. So I just stick with melee, where the slashing/whipping/punching actions give a short range but wider hitting angle.
But of course, this means I am right in the thick of things when it comes to combat, and enemies attack with their own patterns, and I often can dodge one or two attacks, before getting hit because my dodge cooldown is still counting down by that point. That brings up my second biggest problem with this game right now. The dodging timer is too long. I can understand if the game doesn't want you dodging left and right everywhere you go, but when I am taking heavy damage because I cannot dodge, it just seems artificially difficult.
Third issue that I am having a hard time getting over is the lack of ability to move when attacking. This is true for all weapons, melee and ranged. There seems to always be a no-control timer after each attack. The only way out of it sooner than expected seems to be the dodge, which I have to conserve for when I am in a dicey situation instead of just trying to move a little quicker. This results in really unsatisfying movement. It's not so much of an issue when you are using a faster weapon, it's not too obvious. But with the slower weapons, it feels a bit jarring.
The three points above feel like heavy handicaps that could easily be taken care of to allow the player to have more fun. There's something about artificial difficulties that arise from technical flaws in game mechanics that pulls away the fun and fills the frustration bar.
The biggest draw for this game, in my opinion is the multiple player capabilities. There is split-screen local coop and also online multiplayer up to 4 characters per run. It's great to think that you can team up with several other people to dungeon crawling and going after some bosses that give you a hard time. But there are also some issues with this as well. I played a little bit of single-player and mostly multi-player. Bosses and challenge rooms still only give one drops of weapons or chips, no matter how many people are playing. Okay, I can live with that. But why do they have so much more health and attack with so many reserved rounds that is player dependent? I understand the health bit, the game wants the bosses not to be a big joke. But when the bosses start spewing all kinds of nasty stuff that sits on the floor for an extended period of time that causes you to lose health every time you touch it, having extra players means that the bosses have a pretty good chance to do that all over the floor, making it impossible to avoid subsequent attacks. This multiplayer balance is worked in really poorly and makes the bosses a bit OP in multiplayer mode. Who wants to go into a game and say, "Hey, Player 2, can you help me with this boss because I can't seem to get past it?" and hear back as the response, "We are both screwed if I join, because the boss becomes even more OP."
At the end of the day, despite me having fun with this title currently, there are just too many issues that seem pervasive and would alienate players. I am having fun because I got the game for free, and didn't have to consider the financial impact or consider what I would have purchased with the money otherwise. It's not unreasonable to purchase, and if you just want to grind through the single-player mode and slowly earn those tapes for all of the unlocks, you can easily spend 50-100 hours grinding. Maybe you will have fun, maybe you won't. I have a friend who totally loves this game, and that's fine too. But for those who want to have nice, clean fun without technical frustrations, you may want to wait until at least after the full release is complete in order to see if the issues I have brought up have been fixed. In it's current state, there are just better options for your money.
Thanks for reading.
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.