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7DRL 2012 Roguelike Reviews

I've been very busy this year developing The Trouble With Robots, and I haven't come close to playing all of the 7 Day RogueLikes. Here are my reviews of the ones I've played, with my top three recommendations first.

1. Beyond the Light

You begin with no light and no way to tell what monsters are lurking around you. As you creep around the mansion you find light sources, but they're usually quite limited and it may still be difficult to tell what the monsters are due to your vanishing sanity. If you haven't gathered by now, Beyond the Light is an experiment in information hiding and it's quite successful at evoking a scary atmosphere.

Beyond the light is an excellent little game, though it may take a few attempts to get used to. It's important to watch how the different monsters move, and don't try to fight everything!

2. Fragile Wrath

Fragile Wrath is a game about brawling with demons. It has a novel combat mechanic where monsters are stunned for several turns when you hit them, but you're extremely vulnerable so when fighting multiple demons you must exploit this ability to the limit. I enjoyed the mechanic and the game, actually a lot more than the popular Monster Slayer Show by the same author last year. The game also has a cool skill upgrade system.

3. The Well Of Enchantments

The Well Of Enchantments is a fairly traditional roguelike with an emphasis on getting better equipment so that you can take on nastier and nastier monsters. There's quite a lot of different equipment to be found, and you'll find yourself regularly replacing redundant weapons and armour with better ones. The downside to this is you have to do quite a lot of inventory management.

Other features include a range of monsters with different abilities; vegetation that effects sight but not movement; using picks to dig through walls. Also you can maximize the window which is always nice.

Equal in Death

Equal in Death tries to connect online, though I never saw an explanation of why and I didn't notice any other players in the game. It has NPC's using speech bubbles to explain what's going on, and promises epic gladitorial combat.

Unfortunately in several plays I never fully got to grips with the controls and I quit, frustrated. I feel that the complexity of T-Engine was getting in the way, for example when I looked for help I found a 'Key Bindings' screen listing dozens of keys that entirely failed to tell me the vital controls I needed.

Ascension of the Drillworms

First of all I love the graphical style, from the title screen onwards Ascension of the Drillworms really stood out with it's retro sort of look. The novelty more than made up for the lack of features we might expect had the author used one of the popular roguelike engines.

Choosing which equipment to use was fun, but I'm almost ashamed to say that I didn't find the gameplay itself all that interesting. Run around, shoot some stuff. Repeat.

The Adventurer's Guild

In The Adventurer's Guild you control a party of four heroes with different abilities as they plunge down a dungeon slaying monsters and taking their gold. An interesting mechanic is that you have to pay your heroes regularly, and if you don't earn enough money you won't be able to keep all four of them.

The game is fun to play, but not very well balanced and I tended to hit bugs that stopped me progressing on later levels.


I really like the graphics and animation in Locks. I even like the kestrel that looks like a giant chicken. But I found the game's range combat lacked depth, and to make matters worse navigation is fiddly, there's a lot of backtracking and little variation as you explore.


Wyrm is a short but interesting game where you play a 'Red Dragon' trying to consume all of the creatures that have entered your cave. Each time you eat one you get a little bit longer, rather like in the 'snake' games of old. It's a short game that requires you to play carefully.

Revenge on a Toy Factory

In Revenge on a Toy Factory your role is to infiltrate and sabotage a toy factory. This game has moving conveyor belts, which work really nicely, and everything fits into the theme. I found it difficult as there didn't seem to be any way to heal.

Bone Builder

In Bone Builder you play a necromancer, with the ability to animate skeletons from the bones left over by your foes. This is a promising concept, and the gory descriptions of body parts add to the theme. It's fun when you have an army of skeletons on your side but I found the interface to reanimate corpses clumsy, so more often than not I didn't make enough of them.


Jelly is a 'console style' roguelike, in the sense that it's brightly coloured, well animated, and unfortunately has strange controls that remind me of a console emulator. It's a nice little demo but the gameplay isn't particularly inspiring.

I rule, you rule, we all rule old-school Hyrule

I rule, you rule, we all rule old-school Hyrule. It would've taken me a week just to think of a name that good. And yet this game has quite a bit of content besides.

The idea is that five people are competing for fame, by slaying monsters and finding treasure. You are one of them, the other four are controlled by a fairly sophisticated AI. Often, though, I didn't see much of them directly and it felt like a simple race against the clock. It's also quite a difficult game, though a little easier when you get to grips with the special abilities of your equipment.

Sword in Hand

7DRL regular Jeff Lait's entry this year is Sword in Hand. As we've come to expect he's reused a lot of code from his past entries to make this game an extremely slick experience. It also means we get the maze-like map technology which, although impressive, I have to admit I'm not a big fan of.

In this particular game you don't play a hero, you play a magic sword who possesses the hero that holds him. I was expecting some kind of mechanic to do with changing persona but there is none - however your nature is the source of most of the story and humour in the game. It's also an excuse to not let you pick up loot in the dungeon, which focusses the game on the core mechanic of special moves and maintaining your blood resource.

After four or five games I have won once, a quick victory thanks to choosing just the right quests from my advisors. I enjoyed the game but I found the combat system difficult to master.

Professional Sword Tester the Roguelike

I wanted to play Professional Sword Tester the Roguelike because I had enjoyed kusemono, by the same author, last year. Unfortunately at the time I write this there is no Windows binary of PSTTRL, so I had to fire up the old (virtual) Linux box.

The game actually has a lot in common with The Well Of Enchantments, but it focusses on a greater variety of weapons instead of other equipment. Your enemies use weapons as well and, though most are easily defeated, there are a few very dangerous ones and you have to be careful around them. The game makes quite an effort to show you all of the stats you need to consider, but unfortunately it's difficult to remember the special abilities of all of the weapons. As a result I found it was difficult to make good decisions, but there's a fun game underneath all that.

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