Considering the industry’s proclivity for procedurally-generated dungeons and perma-death, there’s a strong possibility that you’re well acquainted with the rogue-like. Genre entries task players with taking a turn-based expedition, upholding an existence using found items, and evading hordes of monsters as well as the sporadic ensnarement. From the prolific Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and Shiren the Wanderer franchises to isolated efforts like Sproggiwood and Cardinal Quest 2, owners of both dedicated portables and mobiles have had plenty of opportunities to experience these engaging excursions.
Fortunately, Yōdanji: The Roguelike, the latest offering from Hiroshima-based KEMCO Games, offers deviance from your typical dungeon crawl. Starting with a roster of three characters culled from Japanese folklore, players delve into the game’s depths, struggling to survive along enough to unlock the seventeen other playable leads. While survival through ten, labyrinthine floors is certainly a challenging undertaking, discovering Yōdanji’s nuances makes for engrossing entertainment.
Whether players tackle the default difficulty level or the reduced demands of ‘Yokai Picnic’ mode, a game begins with a selection of your protagonist. Pleasingly, difference is more than just visual, with characters having their own distinct play style. Karakasa, a hundred-year old oiled umbrella, attacks with a paralyzing tongue and can retract into folded form to hasten his recovery rate and reduce his hunger. Or there’s Kamaitachi, a weasel outfitted with scythes on her paws, who’s able to lash out multiple times per term. Surprisingly, there’s a healthy amount of backstory for each character, with inquisitive gamers able to delve into Yōdanji’s menus for some adeptly-localized lore.
Play extends a number of rogue conventions, with gamers required to carefully manage items and conflicts. Beyond the typical restorative and defensive sundries like dango and sake, omamori serve as your main type of equipment, with each elemental-themed amulet having a passive perk. Given the five-item limit imposed on most characters, deciding if you want to carry an omamori which protects from status effects or shows enemy locations on the mini-map can be a difficult decision. Considering that beating Yōdanji involves the transport of a trio of scrolls (and a boss battle where healing items are needed) it’s exceedingly easy to make an inventory-based miscalculation, pushing players back to the main menu.
Fights are another component that are rooted in complication. Yōdanji’s dungeons frequently post guards around the items which allow you to augment your characters four different skills. While you’ll definitely need to build up your character, excessive combat will take a toll on your explorer. Interestingly, Yōdanji: The Roguelike doesn’t attempt to generate balance among its cast. While beating the game with any character is certainly possibly, some definitely require a specific strategy to survive, let alone triumph. But stick with it, once you do unlock the entire roster, the game’s ten-floor dungeons disappear, replacing these undertakings with an endless mode.
Accept Yōdanji: The Roguelike’s dare if you’re seeking an elevated challenge. Even on the game’s easier setting, failure will come frequently. For some frustration may emerge, especially when a twenty-minute run ends with humiliation when facing the final boss. For Rogue-like aficionados who favor high levels of adversity, Yōdanji merits a purchase at the $2.99 USD price.