Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos takes the player on a fantasy journey of progression, puzzle solving and adventure. A getaway that is clearly inspired by older entries in the The Legend of Zelda series, such as A Link to the Past. You grab a boomerang, a wand, a grappling hook, and all the other dungeon crawler paraphernalia. You work your way through flames, swamps and icy peaks. But they also build a powerful character. The result is a comfortable trip that is a snug-fitting sweater in winter weather, but there are a few frayed threads. You can hit the road with up to three other players, which is a great option, but ultimately a messy distraction from the leaner single-player affair.
As you work your way through the quest-filled overworld and procedurally generated dungeon boundaries, death is sure to come. Other roguelikes may offer little boons, but make no mistake, Rogue Heroes essentially rewards the player with experience points that can be spent on substantial, permanent upgrades after each run. When you build your city from scratch, you create various buildings to improve your health, mana, sword perks, stamina, item powers, and much more.
The upgrade system is so diverse that you can spread your points across multiple facets and achieve incredible increases in performance over time. This is both a blessing and a curse as your strong upgrades take some of the weight out of the final quarter of the game. The tuning in the early game seems to be exactly what you might call adventure, while the later boss encounters are a bit anti-climactic when exploded with a supercritical sword at maximum damage. This means that the great comfort corresponds exactly to what makes Rogue Heroes a special game.
Although all of the systems are fairly shallow, it’s very convenient to build a village from scratch, with friendly NPCs, fishing, and farming. It’s a calming little pixel paradise that you can call your own, and it seems perfect for A cold winter day with a cup of cocoa by your side. The world with its little slimes and scattered secrets conjures up nostalgia from my old school Zelda play days. If you’re not carrying those enchanted memories, that’s fine too – it’s a welcoming and warm place, even if it’s full of monsters and dungeons.
The otherwise pleasant romping around Tasos is hampered by several small but possibly significant errors. On the PC, I noticed that the audio was occasionally affected by heavy crackles and slowdowns and interference that required a reset about every hour to prevent the game from becoming unplayable.
Multiplayer can be fun, but it can be chaotic depending on how many adventurers you want to pack into one session. I found the sweet spot to be another companion where you can revive each other while dungeoneering and easily connect the puzzle mechanisms together. Dead players can even manipulate the world by activating traps or owning pots as ghosts while waiting to be brought back to life, which is a nice touch. While I’ve struggled ever to fit into a random game, it was easy to pair up with a friend on Steam to play.
Simple but satisfying, Rogue Heroes paints a fun and stress-free adventure for one or a group of friends. Nothing about the experience will blow you away, but basking in its comfortable confines might just be the recipe you’re looking for.