LifeisXbox’s Rogue Lords review | Leikir Studio and Cyanide Studio are the two forces behind this latest rogue game with a turn-based combat system. Tactical planning by selecting and upgrading cards, bit inspired by Slay the Spire or Roguebook is something most of us have done before. But! There is something very unique about Rogue Lords what makes it worth playing. You don’t only control disciples straight out of a Halloween B-movie but you get to play as the Devil. A devil that can bend the rules, cheating your way to victory is literally allowed! Manipulate health or mana bars, teleport around the map or move around debuffs from your party members to enemies. Powerful moves that make you feel invincible but even the devil with cheating options can easily be defeated by mortals in this difficult Xbox game.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Horror presentation | Rogue Lords has two different visual styles, most of the time you’ll be in a 2D art mode. On the selection map the game turns into a 3D game with dark themed environments, I found this to be a pretty useless part of the game as you only walk to a highlighted zone and press a button to start the battle, scripted event or utility option but the visual experience is good. Rogue Lords really shines with character designs and game interface. There’s a lot going on but everything is clearly viewable for the player. Something worth mentioning is how great the disciples look in 2D and 3D, favorites like Dracula, Frankenstein or my favorite Lilith are brilliantly crafted with unique styles.
- Yes, you can cheat! | With devil time you can change the tide of a battle or turn a story element into your favor. This unique mechanic in the roguelite genre makes Rogue Lords a lot more fun and tactical. You have to be careful though as using these cheating options will reduce the Devil Essence, which is also used when your disciples are defeated. If the health or mana bar is empty from a disciple he or she turns critical. If the enemies manage to hit a disciple in this state it will empty the bar from the devil. Whenever that bar reaches zero it is game over. If you don’t use the cheating options carefully you will immediately end up with defeats, so that’s where the tactical play comes in. Not only from the disciples card abilities but also knowing when to intervene with devil’s powers.
- Learning how to play with each disciple and combining them | There is a strategy behind each disciple, a learning curve too but I loved finding new tactics with changing my line-up of disciples. Important to know is that not all combinations will be good to use. Your starting party is extremely important and finding a balance between attacking and defence is crucial. You might think that heavy damage characters are the way to win but if you don’t have any way of reducing attack damage you will never reach the boss of a chapter.
- Story & story events | The devil has returned to the mortal world after a heavy defeat against Van Helsing. Now he and his army of disciples have to find and collect artifacts to become stronger, the main plan is revenge on Van Helsing. That’s the main plot, lots of voiced cutscenes happen during gameplay but I honestly just skipped most of it as it wasn’t that interesting. Throughout the chapters you also have story events that tell small interactive stories. You decide which disciple ends up as a story character, each one has better attributes, for example stealth, occultism or how scare they are. You can change the plot by picking different dialogue options and you’ll see the failure rate of your choice. (which you can improve by using the power of the devil). Making the right choices is important as story events can be very rewarding with passive improvements, extra souls or skills. Only downside is that story events are repeated often and they don’t have any meaningful impact on the main story.
What we Disliked
- Controlling your character on the map feels as an unnecessary loss of time | First, you choose three creepy disciples who must uphold the devil’s honor. The story then plays out further in a book where you can choose step by step where you want to go. This is with a bit of tactics because on the map there are battles, places where you can make cards stronger but also temporary buffs or worse.. heavy setbacks like loss of Devil power, permanent reductions in stats and more. All of the above is fantastically worked out but it’s a complete mystery to me why they worked it all out in 3D. All you have to do in this repetitive worldmap is move your character to a lit spot. Regularly you get stuck in dark environments and have to search your way in frustration. As far as I’m concerned, they could have dropped this completely and just kept the game 2D.
- Indicators don’t always work! | This is one of the most annoying parts of Rogue Lords, the warnings when the devil’s bar will be drained work half the time. I’m not sure if this is because of a bug or by design but it is extremely annoying! The warning system doesn’t consider the buffs or debuffs. Let me explain that better: Enemy C will do 15 damage, enemy A and B however do a debuff that increases the damage immensely. As a result enemy C will do 2×30 damage utterly destroying the normal health bar from your disciple and ends up hurting the devil too. I’m honestly a bit baffled that this happens as there is no normal defence play for it.
How long to beat the story | 40 hours
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