The Serpent Rogue
Developer: Sengi Games
Platform: Nintnedo Switch (also available on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC)
Age Rating: PEGI7
Release Date: 26/04/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
And the Chaos Begins
The Serpent Rogue is an occult action-platformer that takes in a world where chaos and corruption are taking over. To put an end to this torment, I needed to craft potions, refine my arsenal of items, and engage in combat with a variety of enemies. Was this journey one to write home about? Or did I wish I got back sooner? Find out in this Rapid Review.
The first thing I noticed about The Serpent Rogue was how little I knew. There were multiple teaching moments where text popped up on the screen to explain the functionality of certain objects. However, I still did not know many of the things I was supposed to do or the depth in which these things could be done. Objectively, I knew I needed to stop the corruption from spreading, but I did not know how to put myself in the position to do so. After enough deaths and confusion, I watched an informational YouTube video detailing the basic strategy needed to proceed with the title. It helped me so much, detailing how the crafting systems worked, how to attain loot, and what certain items did. What was initially frustrating and unintuitive became incredibly simple, and I began to thoroughly enjoy my experience.
Though the lack of a formal tutorial left a sour taste in my mouth, the gameplay was incredibly well put together, and I enjoyed everything once I discovered it. There were a plethora of things to do. I could forage for different resources, explore the world around me, build a cult following around myself, craft different spells, and cook multiple types of food. Plus, the whole time, I needed to remove the corruption from the world. Somehow, once I understood these ideas, each blended wonderfully.
Seek and You Shall Find
One of the most important elements of the gameplay was searching for items. Many of the areas featured interactable items that I could interact with or take with me. Sometimes these items would be strewn about randomly whereas other times, they would be in chests, hidden underground, or enemies would hold them. It was a simple concept, but once I understood it, I was able to seek out exactly what items I needed. Moreover, many of these items replenished. Certain areas would reset quite often, meaning their loot pool would regenerate as well. This meant that no matter how inefficiently I used my resources, I would always be able to regenerate more. I enjoyed how the items were distributed and had fun finding the different items repeatedly.
At the same time, many of these items were simply mediocre at face value. Where they truly shine is via crafting and cooking. Innately, these processes are simple. I combined different ingredients together to create a more useful item. However, it was not necessarily that cut and dry. Not only did I need to figure out the recipe for many items myself, but failed attempts would waste resources without providing any return. Initially, this prevented me from experimenting whatsoever. However, after the instructional YouTube video and recognizing how easy it was to regain items, I was much less averse, and I began to enjoy it. I did find the initial lack of guidance frustrating, but the recipes are logical and once I began to understand how the process worked, I enjoyed it.
Friends and Foes
In addition to the focus on crafting things to make myself stronger, I could work alongside different allies. I could tame different animal species in the various atmospheres, and I could purchase lost souls off a ship. These characters mildly helped me feel connected in the world. However, since they were so abundant and easy to obtain, they were quite replaceable. Moreover, I never found them overwhelmingly useful. Apart from a couple of times where a human companion is required, I never found myself leveraging them, and found they held me back more than they helped. Even though I never used them much, their inclusion was interesting, and I enjoyed seeing how the different creatures helped me.
Though some characters came to my aid, often, creatures were out to get me. Whenever I travelled into certain zones, there were corrupt animals waiting to attack me. These creatures gave me the chance to test my new potions and weaponry. Plus, the enemies were engaging and fun to fight. Deciding whether to use weaponry or spells had a tangible cost, as using too many spells forced me to rebrew additional ones before my next big fight. I thought the enemies were balanced too, and each always telegraphed any upcoming attacks. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed many of the main enemies, the boss fights were overwhelmingly simple. Since I could create as many potions as I wanted, I always entered these fights prepared for the worst. The boss fights rarely held a candle and went down easily. Since I had the ability for more intense combat, I wanted trickier bosses.
Not a Closer
This was extremely prevalent in the final boss fight. While I will not spoil what the boss is or the exact nature of the fight, I was disappointed in it, as I felt it did not represent any of the focuses of the gameplay. In fact, I was not required to use any items from my inventory. Considering one of the main points of the title is creating potions and learning how to use them, I was quite disappointed, and felt it did not prove my strength in the game. Still, the enemies were rewarding, even if the boss fights and the final boss were less so.
Moreover, this was compounded by my game crashing following the closing sequence of the game. Though the game largely performed well, it crashed three times during my playthrough, there were audio issues where there would be static immediately after entering a new area, and there were performance issues where certain actions would drop frames. The Serpent Rogue did not have a perfect performance, but these hindrances did not severely impede my experience. Overall, the game did perform, and I had no major issues playing the title.
Creating the World
To supplement the gameplay, The Serpent Rogue features decent world-building. There are a variety of interesting characters to meet, the world is wonderfully themed, and each location does seem legitimate. The world-building elements are more than satisfactory, and I easily found myself immersed in the world. However, the story itself was nothing spectacular. I did not find myself lost in the lore, though I never particularly wanted to. The core gameplay was engaging enough for me to get lost in the world without a story to supplement. Although the story was not a major contributor, I enjoyed the minor elements it did add to my experience.
Moreover, the soundtrack helped construct a lovely theme too. Each location had its own music, and it was powerful, as though something ancient and evil was present, yet without losing the distinct personality of the vast locations I travelled. Each track helped immerse me further in the title.
Even the visual style sold me on the atmosphere. The faded murky colours continually reminded me of the grim state the world was in. The sharp red for corruption stood out and was immediately prevalent whenever it was present, while the more natural colours were more soothing and did not focus my attention as heavily. The colour design worked extremely well and highlighted what was important.
Overall, The Serpent Rogue was a lot of fun once I learned how the mechanics worked. The constant search for crafting materials combined with the many types of enemies to face made for engaging gameplay. Though there were a few issues with the performance, and I was initially confused about how to progress effectively, I ended up having a good time with this title.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase The Serpent Rogue on the Nintendo eShop here
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