|Developed by:||Greg Sergeant|
|Published by:||Flying Interactive|
|Format played:||PC – Steam|
Honestly, I expected to hate this. I admit it, I took one look at the graphics and thought, this looks crap. But dammit if its not just a bucket load of fun.
Still Not Dead describes itself as a ‘roguelite FPS.’ Now I don’t know about you but I didn’t have the faintest idea of what that meant when I first saw the term. It turns out of course that Rogue was an early dungeon crawler that popularised the concepts of random maps and permadeaths, amongst other things. So, now you know.
Having never played Rogue I can’t really comment as to this game’s liteness or otherwise. What I can say is that this feels like Doom has been sat in the corner eating a bag full of sugar. Before each run begins you choose from a selection of blessings and curses, which can offer you perks such as exploding bullets or bigger jumps, or hinder you by removing the crosshair or taking away your melee weapon. Set across six levels of hell, you then run around randomly generated maps, shooting everything that moves. Rack up enough kills and you unlock the exit, which promptly warps you to the next level to do it all over again. In between are various pick ups to collect, from weapons to ammo to health. Be quick though because if you take too long, you start getting chased around the screen by a fiery ball of death.
And that’s basically it. There are no complex levels, no hidden bits or secrets to unlock. Just a horde of ever more disgusting enemies, a gun and a whole load of destructible scenery. After ten minutes you’ll have seen pretty much everything it has to offer. But here’s the thing; you keep coming back for more. Each run is a gauntlet through all six stages and so your health and ammo carry forward. You can grab pick ups in level but take a battering in the first and you are unlikely to make it through to level 6. This in turn drives you to want to scour the levels, looking for goodies to either boost your health or give you an advantage. But everywhere you turn some demonic beast, disembodied skull or bile spewing tree is out to chew on your entrails. Plus of course you need to keep an eye on the proverbial clock, too long spent searching for loot likely to see that wretched death skull make an appearance to stalk you round the level.
Whilst the mechanics are of course very different, it reminds me of the classic arcade games like Asteroids or Space Invaders in that it evokes that desire to keep pushing, keep retrying in an effort to get just that bit further or get your score just that bit higher. Visually it is crude looking but somehow that also works in its favour, the Doom-esque graphics giving it a retro vibe that works well with the old school gameplay. It’s tough without ever feeling unfair. Enemies come at you from all angles but the combination of weapons and perks leave you feeling reasonably well tooled. It’s a genuine thrill when you find yourself back pedalling at full speed, a horde of angry mutants chasing after you and spitting venom as you fire off your gun and lob grenades, taking out the mob before making a last gasp dash to the exit.
An old school, arcade blaster with some decidedly modern twists. Addictive, tough but most importantly great fun. And stonking good music too.