Rogue-lites are in fashion currently. And not just that; rogue-lites that are hard. There are numerous game experiences in which the player must die to become stronger, improving their performance with each run. However, the modern trend is to take this punishment even further. The Serpent Rogue is one such title. It is not a game for people looking for an easy ride.
The game begins by setting the scene of a land between worlds. Where the dead toil to ensure the living can live. You are one such worker, however your task has suddenly become greater. There is a corruption spreading through the land, and you must find the root of it. The Serpent Rogue throws lots of information at you at this point: how to gather and research materials, how to craft potions and items etc. But it never actually tells you what to do with this knowledge. A large part of the game is based around player experimentation: trial and error.
The Serpent Rogue is a game that expects you to die. In fact, it insists upon it. While you’re a man (or woman) of medicine, basically everything in the world is trying to kill you. You’re just humbly going about your business and inspecting plants and woah, there’s a bunch of rats trying to swipe at you. Heading back to you camp? A big ball of that corruption stuff explodes and out comes a massive dog-bird-thing. It’s not for you to reason why, but it is your duty to research and understand all of these beings. All whilst dying (despite trying not to) repeatedly.
In familiar rogue-lite tradition, upon death all of your items will remain at your previous resting place. It’s up to you to retrieve them before dying once again, lest they be lost forever. Early in the game this can be incredibly punishing as there’s not much equipment available to you. Later on, when you’ve learned the whys and wherefores, it remains an annoyance, but you’ll likely have a back-up plan stored in your chest at home.
Once you have performed enough journeys into the wasteland and incrementally gained a greater understanding of the game, you’ll have enough items and recipes in your inventory to begin completing missions. This in turn aids your progress by offering up new items and recipes, allowing you to survive longer and push further into the wasteland. Suddenly, the gameplay cycle kicks-in, and you can be more prepared for each journey.
To say that The Serpent Rogue has a steep learning curve is putting it mildly. The game never once cuts the player any slack. You do or you die, and managing your inventory to ensure you have enough items and potions for the former is no easy task. For players who have recently completed their Elden Ring campaign and are looking for another meaty challenge, The Serpent Rogue will most likely fill that void. However, players looking for some easy-go-lucky fun or with less time to invest will surely find the game close to impenetrable.