Title: Rooftop Renegade
Developer: Melonhead Games
Release Date: February 17, 2023
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Price: $17.99 USD
The Australian based game developer, Melonhead Games, released their debut game, Rooftop Renegade. It is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Having previewed the game at expos and festivals, Melonhead Games has already picked up a couple awards that include:
- Best in Show – Sound Design Nominee’ at GDEX Midwest Gaming Expo
- ‘PAX Aus Indie Showcase Competition’ winner & People’s Choice Award
The team at Melonhead Games has been working on this project since 2018.
One of the goals of Melonhead Games is to provide a “buttery smooth” game experience. Did they accomplish their goal?
Let’s dig in and find out.
In this case, I prefer using their description.
According to Melonhead Games, “In Rooftop Renegade, you play as Svetlana avoiding capture from the evil Globacorp. The game offers fast-paced platforming, requiring quick reflexes and fast thinking as the Globacorp Gunners attempt to obstruct Svetlana’s path forward.”
Notice the words fast and quick. They’ll be important later in my review.
Throughout this game, you complete level by avoiding obstacles and Globacorp Goons. You are also seeking to collect crystals in order to keep them out of the hands of Globacorp.
Rooftop Renegade has one of my favorite tutorial set-ups I’ve ever seen. There are a lot of controls and features, but Melonhead doesn’t dump them all on you at once. Instead there is a series of four levels where you add features one by one.
First you learn how to duck under obstacles. The level is catered to allow you to get used to moving but also to put enough obstacles in your path that you have to learn the controls. Luckily in these levels, it reminds you what key to push with a pop up.
Then, you jump. Some obstacles you can’t duck under and must jump over instead. You can also use it to maneuver from ramp to ramp. Ideally in this game, the higher up you are, the better you’ll play.
More on that in a second.
From there, you learn to dive. Sometimes, you need less air time, and they show you how to cut that short. Sometimes, a quick dive might give you a boost or help you avoid an obstacle as well.
By this point, you’ve gained enough experience to grow to level 2, and you get the power up where you can leap. This is something that has to recharge after every use, so you have to strategically plan when you want to use it.
For someone that doesn’t play a lot of platformers, I really appreciated this touch as it allowed me to ease into the genre. Instead of throwing all of this on me at once, they added it bit by bit. I could even go back and play previous levels if I still wasn’t comfortable with what I was supposed to get the hang of.
Each level introduced a new control.
Until it didn’t.
Starting at the fifth level, Globacorp minions are introduced, and they try to stop you; however, instead of setting them to a lower level and giving you a second to adjust, they come in at full force.
It took me close to 20 tries to beat the level. In fact, I spread my gameplay out over a couple of days because the game got frustrating, and I stopped having fun. I wish there had been an option on setting the difficulty level or, even better, that they’d ease you into it like they did with the basic mechanics. Instead, you get back to back levels. In one, you get chased for the first time, and in the next, they are openly sabotaging you.
It’s a fascinating concept, but unless your reflexes are just right, this part of the game crosses from fun into just plain frustrating. Full disclosure, I didn’t finish the game before writing this review. In addition to what I said above, I ran out of time in an effort to get this review done on release weekend.
On the other hand…
For people who love this type of game, this is where it really starts. Melonhead Games was not kidding when they said that this is a game of quick reflexes and fast thinking. There are times where there is little room for error.
If you love a game that pushes you, and encourages you to experiment with platformer mechanics, this is for you. It’s not that I don’t like to be pushed, but there’s a reason that, as a newer gamer, I often set games on Story Mode.
Part of the trouble with me writing this review is finding the balance between my experience and how people might perceive the game. As this isn’t my traditional genre, I came in with different expectations than its typical audience did.
Each level is unique and has so many layers to it. In theory, you won’t get the same experience between two runs, and the graphics really highlight that fact. There are obstacles, Globacorp Officers, ramps, boost rings, and crystals to collect.
Never once does the game falter in its visuals. It doesn’t lag, or give an odd hitch (extremely beneficial in a game where timing is everything). It plays steadily.
Even the hints aren’t obtrusive; you can easily ignore them if you want. But for me, having them there made a huge difference.
When you repeat a run, you can have it run a simulation with your previous run so that you can beat your time.
I can see where the development team took five years to make this game. Visually, it pays off for them. Truly, this is where this game shines.
While this is available, it is not a feature I’ve tried out. I would be curious to see how it goes with multiple people playing. Plus, I’m always down for games where I can sabotage my friends.
In multiplayer mode, you can also play as the Globacorp Minions and try to mess with your friend’s run. Despite my experience with the main game, I think this is a feature that I would love to take advantage of.
Melonhead Games succeeds in their goal of making a “buttery smooth” game. It performs wonderfully. Graphics are smooth, the game is smooth, and understanding it is smooth.
This was a hard thing to determine because I had to sort through the quality of the game versus my personal feelings.
Personally, here’s how I rate it.
But, I have to acknowledge that that score is very subjective. This game is targeted for fans of platformers. Taking a more objective look, here’s my score.
After the introductory levels, I found myself having trouble enjoying the game. As I mentioned above, I feel as if the curve was just a bit too steep as someone not overly familiar with this type of game. When I started it, I wanted to love it. The graphics are fantastic and it plays so smoothly, but ultimately, this is not the game for me.
It’s worth giving the game a try. If you’re more familiar with platformers, I think you’d have a good time. If you’re like me and are not overly familiar with the genre, this might not be the game to play to introduce yourself to the concept.
Putting my personal experience to one side, I felt as if I needed to give this a second rating.
The graphics are some of the best I’ve seen in my limited experience with platformers. I’ve said it several times and I’ll say it again, it runs buttery smooth. I never encountered a hitch or a lag.
If you love platformers, I’d suggest picking this up. I might try in the future to play this again, because what I did play was a lot of fun.
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Featured Image Source: Melonhead Games