Roguelikes have taught the modern gamer that death is merely a learning experience masquerading as an orc, a poisoned dagger, or a gaping head wound. Its deluge into the indie scene notwithstanding, many roguelikes have at least found various creative ways to portray the genre, even if they don’t break any molds. Puuba’s The Weaponographist is just such a game.

The Weaponographist puts you in the role of Doug McGrave, a demon hunter with the arsenal of a Kokiri adventurer and the attitude of Gaston LeGume. After refusing to save the town of Hellside for free, you are cursed by a local witch. Your powers sapped, you must punch, stab, and blast your way through a procedurally-generated dungeon in order to save the town, regain your powers, and presumably return to a life of slaying dragons with your +5 falchion of vorpal handsomeness.

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With its litter-infested dungeons and chaotic cast of misfit villains, Weaponographist superficially resembles the grim Zelda-parody that is Binding Of Isaac. But beyond its multi-tiered basement of death and a “walk-this-way, fire-that-way” control scheme, Weaponographist manages to find its own voice. Well, maybe suggesting that it has its own voice is a bit strong. It has largely the same voice as Isaac and many other roguelikes before it. But it’s not unfair to say that it has developed its own accent, if you will.

The Weaponographist’s main flash of originality comes in the form of your cursed combo timer that steadily ticks away throughout the game. If an inability to kill some nasties allows the timer to reach zero, you begin to lose hard-earned experience, creating an atmosphere that is fast-paced and often frantic. This is combined with the fact that your weapons will constantly be breaking down as you use them, forcing you to adapt your combat style to whatever toys are available. This arsenal runs from the mundane to the peculiar, including your standard swords and shields, but also throwing in tommy guns, slingshots, and tubas that fire massive laserbeams.

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The game’s villains provide an equally silly sense of variety, with drow and wizards joining forces with headless swordsmen and raygun-wielding octopi. The characters are colorful and well-designed, in a Saturday Morning Cartoon sort of way. Defeating enemies not only scores you new weapons and magic, but units of a mysterious “goop:” the currency that can be used in the town of Hellside to purchase upgrades, thus slowly bringing Doug McGrave back to his original peak of demon-squashing goodness. In this way, you find yourself going through the usual motions of a roguelike: kill, kill, kill, die, upgrade, kill some more. Rinse and repeat. However, Weaponographist’s dungeons are fairly shallow, and a hard-and-fast playtime alleviates whatever boredom might have otherwise overtaken such a game.

The Weaponographist doesn’t do a massive amount to set itself apart from the other dungeon crawlers out there, but I don’t get the impression that Puuba was trying to make waves. They seemed to be setting out to create a sharp, bite-sized button-masher that was fast and fun. And in that sense they succeeded. What The Weaponographist lacks in freshness, it makes up for in style and fun. It’s got imagination and heart, and that’s worth at least a few glimpses in my book.

About The Author

Contributor

Phil Keeling is a writer, comedian, gin-drinker, and author of the gaming blog "Notes From The Conquistadork" and YouTube gaming channel "Conquistadork". His favorite beetle is the Bombardier Beetle, which can fire a noxious, explosive spray to ward off predators. His favorite Beatle is George Harrison, who cannot.

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