MicRogue is a roguelike for the everyman. It’s a simple, yet elegant game that captures the tenets of its genre without getting trapped in it.

Roguelikes are known for their challenging and unforgiving nature, and sometimes it is that quality that drives people away. While it’s clear Crescent Moon Games’ iOS title MicRogue certainly carries part of that tradition, it is suited to the casual audience of smartphone gamers as well as their more hard-core cousins.

Simplicity in both gameplay and design is MicRogue’s most endearing quality; it’s simple in premise, gameplay and art style, which is what makes the game so approachable. The game is about a nameless warrior seeking treasure on the tenth floor of an unnamed dungeon. The lack of narrative not only didn’t bother me, it played into the game’s strengths. I focused more on the simple pleasure of playing the game rather than the ‘why’ of it, and that was perfect for a small game like this one.

The gameplay is rooted in strategic depth not mechanical brilliance, which makes MicRogue challenging without any complicated gesture controls. Moving the warrior is simple as tapping the screen and adheres to just a few simple rules: he can only move two spaces at most. and combat functions much like chess where enemies are killed by simply moving onto the space they occupy. Getting flanked by the enemy means instant death, but head-on attacks deplete the shields.

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What makes MicRogue  work is the strategic thinking required to succeed. It’s all about maneuvering enemies into traps or taking advantage of their unique abilities to navigate the dungeon. Both the levels and enemies are procedurally generated and there is enough of this that every playthrough becomes a devilish challenge at some point. Some enemies also have movement based advantages, such as The Ninja, which functions much like a knight in chess by moving in an L-shape, or the Ogre, which arbitrarily moves either diagonally or in a straight line. Others have special attributes like the Flame Beast or the Yeti, who produces an area of effect attack when dispatched.

The game is at its most challenging when several of these enemies appear on screen at once and each move becomes a mini strategy session. While playing MicRogue on a long car ride, I couldn’t help but give a silent fist pump after escaping a particularly hairy situation. I had found myself cornered, but still somehow ended up maneuvering a flame beast into the perfect position to kill him while also taking out two other enemies that were hounding me too.

There were several moments like this one in every playthrough and with the specter of instant death looming, made for a harrowing experience the deeper in I went. MicRogue struck a good balance by keeping me engaged with a simple goal and ratcheting up the tension as I went along. The closer I got to the treasure, the more escape meant something to me and that was enough to propel me through playthrough after playthrough

The minimalist art style in MicRogue reinforces the theme of simplicity well. The pixel-art graphics look like they are something out the old-school GameBoy Color games, with sprites that are more charming than they are menacing. The game includes a simple tutorial and wisely eschews complicated menus and interfaces. It also includes enough assistance so I could make wise decisions. There is a button that counts off every enemy on the screen divulging their location and a brief description of each enemy and their attributes is simple is tapping and holding your finger on them.

MicRogue is the perfect on-the-go roguelike for those that have from a few minutes to several hours to burn. It’s so easy to play, never gets boring, and doesn’t look cheap as so many other iOS titles tend to. The game is an excellent palate cleanser, a small game well suited to those moments when you don’t feel like playing something long and epic.

 

About The Author

Editor In Chief

Jose is a straight shooter who always goes the paragon route. He joined the team at Indie Haven to spread the word about indie games all across the galaxy. When not aboard the Normandy, he lives in the San Francisco Bay Area playing video games and plotting ways to rid the world of games like Colonial Marines.

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