Roll for a perception check. Tabletop gaming has undeniably enjoyed a certain renaissance in recent years, simultaneously diversifying the current gaming scene and harking back to a time before bright screens and clicky controllers were weapons of choice. Popular Dungeons and Dragons games such as The Adventure Zone, Critical Role and Dungeons and Cosmonauts have had fans engrossed in their winding tales and spontaneous comedy for quite some time. Community references it and Stranger Things uses it as a metaphor for its supernatural world. It's possible for anyone with a passing piqued interest to peruse varied online 'tabletop' games and, increasingly, game stores. Gaming-themed bars also showcase an opportunity to try assorted games in a relaxed, fun setting.
Yet, even with all these resources at our fingertips, sometimes it can feel like herding cats when attempting to get enthusiastic, if busy, friends to sit down all at the same table. It can also be daunting when considering the commitment to a campaign of your own invention or not. Even seasoned players have a bit of reading and math to power through no matter what role is on offer.
Enter the dungeons of Rezrog
#Rezrog broaches that chasm for casual and hardcore players alike. It's a single-player roguelike dungeon crawler with the premise of tabletop game conventions. Once a peaceful and idyllic land, Rezrog is mysteriously overrun by Evil Wizards and their dastardly minions in a quest to harness the dark power of the Gems of Rezrog. These Gems, hidden deep below the earth, would enable the Wizards to cause an imbalance of evil forces over good and warp Rezrog into a twisted remnant of its former self if they are successful in their corrupt ambitions. Through turn-based combat, slash and outwit monsters while evading traps in countless dungeons with a wild assortment of party members, all possessing important skills and crucial items aiding the mighty task of saving Rezrog from certain doom.
Crafty visuals and playstyle
The developer's (Soaphog) idea with their game is wonderfully candid - to cherry pick from the familiar worlds of tabletop and electronic gaming and forge Rezrog as the absolute intermediate. Everything looks like it has been popped out of a board game, stickers laid carefully on plastic stands and walls folded and glued together as the edges of the dungeons. There is meticulous attention earnestly paid to the casual aesthetic.
Heroes bounce from square to square and as dungeon crawling progresses, the area to be explored falls haphazardly from the sky, not quite lining up perfectly. The party and their stats, items, abilities and more are clearly displayed in a parchment file with colorful tabs. When the prevailing trends in hardware and art direction tilt towards sleek, futuristic and minimalist as central tenets, it's super cool to see visuals that embrace a pictorial style.
Grand scale and replay-ability to be enjoyed
The player and their heroes will clash with garden-variety evil creatures but will also encounter behemoths lurking in the shadows, requiring the perfect mix of shrewd strategy and crafted resources to fell them. As the old saying goes, boss battles are the spice of life, and with 100 procedurally generated dungeon levels sprawling across Rezrog, that's a bunch of leviathans to prove your mettle against.
Flexibility and choice are key to Rezrog's modus operandi. It's a game with impressive scale, boasting ten contrasting regions, bolstered by the random construction of its dungeons. With tailored, yet recognizable, hero classes and over 60 attributes able to be leveled and developed, players can envision their own playstyle down to the minute details. Whomever first braves the descent for the Gem must use brains and brawn, exploiting the weaknesses of the enemy and capitalizing on their unique advantages, or else be captured by the monsters and await rescue from another character following their progress. If the dungeon ensnares the entire party, a fate worse than death ensues - permadeath.
Though a challenge, it isn't as punishing as my penchant for melodrama makes out. Another central feature is progress persistence. The Gems collected from the previous generation of heroes journey are transformed into stat points to improve the fresh faces of your new party before they've even left the inn.
All in all, Rezrog is a visually exciting and dynamic indie dungeon crawler, with depth that rivals the veritable influences it draws upon to create a whole new experience each time you play.
Genre: Roguelike RPG adventure with a tabletop twist
Platforms: PC and Mac
Release Date: Spring 2017