Microgue ($0.99) by Crescent Moon Games and Jason Pickering is a micro roguelike with a simple goal: grab the treasure and get out. Do you have what it takes to make it through and back again in one piece? If you’re a fan of challenging roguelike games, then you’re going to thoroughly enjoy Microgue. It’s similar to other games out there like The Nightmare Cooperative and Tales of the Adventure Company.
Roguelikes have been a rising trend for the past few years on the App Store, and while it may not be for everyone (there’s no sense of progression), I enjoy them because they are challenging games that make you think before you take action. They’re also great for playing whenever you have some time, because a run can last for just a few minutes, or longer if you’re doing well. While there is no visible progression in these types of games compared to everything else, I think seeing yourself get farther and farther with every run is a sign of advancement — practice makes perfect, after all.
I’m also a big fan of Crescent Moon Games, so when I saw that they were releasing a new roguelike on the App Store this week, needless to say, I was pretty excited. I spent some time with Microgue now, and it’s definitely one of my favorite titles to pick up this week.
The visuals in Microgue are done in 16-bit style so the game has a retro look and feel to it, which any classic gamer should love. The colors of the dungeon floors are fairly basic, as it features off-white tiles with various obstacles and traps laying on top of them, as well as vibrant and colorful monsters. The dark gray border helps make everything stand out, and the stairs are easily noticeable. Your character, who appears to be a warrior of some kind, has a simple design that makes it easy to tell which direction he’s facing (an important factor). The game has smooth and fluid animations as everything moves on their appropriate turn, and the adventurous soundtrack is fun to listen to.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Microgue is a straightforward roguelike where your character must venture into a tower, get to the treasure, and get back out again. While the tower only has 10 floors, since you have to make your way out to the beginning, the number of floors is essentially doubled. Another way that Microgue stands out from other roguelikes is the fact that this focuses more on character movement, rather than stats and gear. So in other words, it relies on planning and skill, as there are ways to make your character stronger.
The control scheme in MicRogue is easy and intuitive. Since each floor is just a grid, players control their character by tapping on the spot they want to move to. Microgue shows players where they can move to by having a dotted line on available tiles — sometimes you can move two spaces, but other times it’s just one. It depends on your current position. Movement is horizontal or vertical only, so you can’t go diagonally across the level.
Tapping on your character will change the direction that he will face, but this counts as a turn, so the monsters will have an opportunity to move if you do this. However, you have a shield with three charges, so if you’re facing the right direction, it will save you from a hit. If you are unable to block a hit, you die instantly, and must start over from the beginning. Pay attention to the tiles, as sometimes you can refill a shield charge if you stand on a square with a shield rune on it. You can attack and kill monsters adjacent to you by moving into their square. Additionally, you can even use the floor’s spike traps to your advantage, as they can also kill monsters, but be careful as to not end up in them yourself.
While Microgue appears to be uncomplicated, there are some things to watch out for. Like all roguelikes, the floors are procedurally generated, so it will never be the same thing twice, so you are never given the chance to memorize how a floor will be. There is a nice variety of enemies that you’ll come across too, and each one not only looks different, but they have distinctive behaviors and attack patterns that you need to observe in order to survive. Naturally, you’re going to die a lot in this game, but like the old saying goes — practice makes perfect. You will go through numerous runs in an attempt to get the treasure from the dragon and get back out.
So far, I’m enjoying Microgue a lot. The classic visuals are a nice homage to old-school games, the music is charming, and the controls are simple to learn but need a bit of practice before you’re able to last for a long period of time in the tower. I also like the premise of getting the treasure and making your way back out, because it adds an entire new layer to the game, whereas other roguelikes have you get to the final floor and then that’s it.
The only problem I have with the game is that it seems to crash if you are in a game and exit out and quickly return to it, as that happened to me earlier. Fortunately I was just at the beginning of a new run, so nothing was lost.
I highly recommend checking out Microgue if you are in the mood for a challenging roguelike to spend your time on this week. You can find Microgue on the App Store as a universal app for $0.99 for a limited time only. After the sale, the game will be priced at $1.99.