Developer: Massive Damage, Inc
Publisher: Raw Fury
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 19/11/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Star Renegades! Got your attention? Good. Just the title sounds great doesn’t it? Do you like multi-dimensional storylines, grand space battles, pixel-art and turn-based tactical combat? Well, today may be your lucky day, Star Renegades on the Nintendo Switch is all of these things with a couple of unique tricks up its old-school, rogue-lite sleeves.
From Massive Damage and Raw Fury, Star Renegades is a turn-based, rogue-lite RPG set in, yes you guessed it, space! A service robot called J5T-1N, or Justin as I called him, has arrived to warn you of impending doom from a malevolent force called the Imperium. What is clever about this game, is that each time you fail, and you will fail, Justin travels to the next dimension in line and you play again, in true rogue-lite fashion.
The Next Dimension
As a rogue-lite, this facet of the story works really well as each time you die you don’t just weirdly come back to life like normal rogue-lites, you play again in the next dimension. Beautiful. The rest of the story, as you might expect is standard intergalactic fare with a few bumps along the way. It’s other parts of this charming little game that caught my eye though. In fact, there are parts of this game that I really, really loved.
Firstly, at the start of every run, you are asked to choose from an ever-expanding cast of madcap characters. From the main character who fights in a massive sword-swinging mech, from the Empath to the Valkyrie, there is a character for every occasion. What I really savoured though was how these characters evolve, level up and grow stronger, together. It’s completely brilliant.
Carry On Camping!
Let’s forget the battle and exploration systems for a second and talk about camping. I know, boring as hell right? Well, actually, no, you’re wrong! At certain points during your exploration and between all the sword-clanging and pistol pew-pewing, you can rest up at a camp-site. I don’t mean a flimsy tent and small camp stove campsite either, I mean a working on your relationships and a making bonds campsite kind of campsite.
At these campsites, you can use a plethora of collectable cards. These cards can be found or unlocked through levelling your characters. These cards give boosts to health, passive improvements or temporary stat boosts. That is not all though, each card you play increases the friendship level with the characters involved and in turn unlock special traits. It’s like a mini-game in itself that flows between your battles and really makes you feel connected to your characters and their relationships. I think it was actually my favourite part of the game, outside of the beefy combat.
More Than The Sum Of Its Parts
The combat system is another area this game shines. Yes, it’s similar in many ways to most turn-based battle systems and most turn-based aficionados will slide straight into its layers of tactical nuance but what it does, it does very well and it does have a few surprises. The way your health and shields work, the way critical strikes work and how you can manipulate your enemies all add up to a system that is more than the sum of its parts.
The whole combat system is governed by a timeline you can use to plan your attacks and drop your heroes into small chronological gaps to maximise their attacks and abilities. Different attacks have different timeframes and if you can place your heroes before your adversaries on the timeline you will strike with a critical hit. Furthermore, if you can strike your enemies a certain number of times you can push them off the timeline completely, nullifying their intent. Take that you brute!
You also have your standard combat systems in place, defending, buffing and a massive plethora of special abilities that unlock as you level up your heroes. The levelling system is quite unique too; instead of XP levelling your uncanny warriors, you use DNA found in the field and awarded at the end of battles. It does give you a bit more freedom to level up who you like and makes divvying up your DNA strands another choice the player has to deal with. Fun times.
Each run through the game is three planets before you take on the big bad. Each of these planets is broken up into semi-open world maps for you to explore. You have a certain number of days to govern what you can do and you must balance your time with how much you want to explore and how many battles you want to face. It’s a nice system; throw in the camping mechanic and it gives you a lot more to think about than just fighting enemies. Traversing these pixel-art maps reminds me of old-school strategy games and that is by no means a bad thing.
One other thing I want to mention before we get onto the sights and sounds of this charming title is the hierarchy system that governs your foes. It reminds me of Shadow of Mordor’s nemesis system. Enemies will get promoted if they slay you and will remember you in future runs. The screen is laid out like a massive organizational chart that evolves as you play the game over many attempts to win. It is nice to see this kind of system and I am surprised more developers have not used it. It gives the game a persistence, makes each run feel connected and makes you feel like you are part of a real, emerging universe.
On the graphics front, Star Renegades is simply superb. I know pixel-art is a bit overdone these days but when it is done well, it’s a sight to behold. Star Renegades is beautiful. From the heavily armoured enemies to the pixel-based maps and from amazing animations to brilliantly realized characters, everything looks amazing. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it is certainly mine. White, no sugar please and leave the bag in for a bit.
Sound-wise, again, I loved Star Renegades‘ score and sound effects. It has a beautiful futuristic synth soundtrack that matches the visuals of the game and really keeps you invested in this intricate world. While I would have perhaps liked some voice acting, I can see why the developers went the way they did. There is a lot of dialogue and perhaps a text-based approach was the right one.
I am trying to find something negative to say and apart from some small font issues here and there I am struggling to find any. I have read about some performance issues but I never had any, maybe they have been fixed with a patch, I am not sure. The font thing is a very small issue but some people may struggle to read some of the text. I noticed it mostly when trying to read cards when camping but my eye-sight is good. Maybe this can be adjusted with a patch too, who knows?
The Star of The Show
Star Renegades is a great game, it has a nice mix of systems for you to get stuck into from its combat and exploration to its camping and enemy hierarchy system. It looks great, sounds good and is a lot of fun to play. If you like turn-based stuff, pixel art or even something a little different then Star Renegades is the game for you. I loved it. Right, I’m off to kill that massive robot thing that killed me last time, I owe him a sword to the face!
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Star Renegades on the Nintendo eShop here.