ScourgeBringer is a newer roguelike by developers Flying Oak Games that previously released on PC, Xbox, and Switch. Just recently, it has found its way to PlayStation consoles as well. My first experience with roguelikes was The Binding of Isaac. I thought it looked and played like the original Legend of Zelda, but had its own art style and appeal. Within 10 minutes of my first run, I died, losing all of my upgrades and having to start from the very beginning. Like my initial experience with Demon’s Souls, I was confused, frustrated, and didn’t understand why one of the core mechanics was so brutal. This led to a discussion with a former GotGame contributor, saying “that’s just the way those games are.” So ended my interest in that game!
Fast forward a couple of years and The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was a PlayStation Plus offering. I gave it another shot, and absolutely fell in love. Getting better and further each time (generally speaking), I unlocked more characters, eventually “beat the game,” and then played some more until I got the true ending. The Binding of Isaac became one of my favorite games, truly making an impact on me. I even changed my text message notification to the in-game sound of an item pickup!
Moving to the present brings us to our topic of ScourgeBringer. Taking the role of Kyhra, players will act as her race’s last hope against evil and mysterious enemies. Thankfully, she’s well equipped with a sword, gun, double jump, wall run, and a dash ability. There are also temporary and permanent upgrades that will make Kyhra an even stronger force to be reckoned with. Given the genre, each run is unique with randomized map layouts, enemy placements, and upgrades. But do these features add up to a worthwhile experience?
The controls and combat are very precise, which make ScourgeBringer enjoyable from the first to the umpteenth attempt. A pixelated art style makes it stand out from its contemporaries and gives the game its own personal flair. The change in enemies, environments, and mechanics in each subsequent area are really well executed. As previously mentioned, permanent upgrades really do strengthen Kyhra and her abilities, making them advantageous and worthwhile. If players are finding the game too difficult, there are very friendly and adaptive difficulty settings to play with. Slowing down game speed, enemy projectile speed, and increasing health drops are all options, and it doesn’t disable achievements/trophies either.
For those who might not be able to make it to the end due to the game’s difficulty, there’s even an invincibility option. Though rightfully, turning that on will disable achievements and trophies. This leads back to roguelikes like The Binding of Isaac. Players of that game or Dead Cells might find their gameplay too difficult, but ScourgeBringer finds ways to make the game more accessible and forgiving. This is great for newcomers or those who are less masochistic. Finally, the music is simply badass. Subtle while outside of combat, it ramps up with heavy metal sounds that really add to the on-screen intensity.
Even though the point of a roguelike is to start the game over after a death, shortcuts to later areas would be nice. Enter the Gungeon has a nice system where you can unlock an elevator to take you past initial floor levels. This comes at a cost for that game, since you don’t receive the possible items or benefits, but it saves time and prevents tediousness. It would’ve been nice if ScourgeBringer had a system like this. You can only encounter the same first boss without it getting boring and tedious so many times.
ScourgeBringer is a worthwhile addition to the genre and worthy of your time. It finds the right balance with its challenge, but players can scale it down if needed. The game can also get repetitive due to its fixed bosses and lack of a shortcut system, but this is outweighed by the enjoyable experience throughout. As a PlayStation Vita owner, I was disappointed to learn of the lack of cross-buy support. Even though a Vita version exists, the director of the game says that they tried to make it happen, but it wasn’t possible.
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