When the peaceful continent of Tasos is invaded by the evil minions which belong to the four titans who threaten to break free from their seals, you know you're going to need some hero companions by your side. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos is a four-player co-op roguelite adventure, with topdown action gameplay that screams nostalgia. Explore the land of Tasos, solve puzzles in the depths of menacing dungeons and share the glory alongside friends.
I think it's almost impossible not to compare Rogue Heroes to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The gameplay is oh-so similar but Rogue Heroes does go that extra mile by adopting the mechanics of twin-stick shooters by letting you use the right analogue stick to rapidly swing your sword.
That brings up another key difference, the stamina bar. Whilst this bar has been common in the Legend of Zelda series since Skyward Sword, we haven't seen it implemented in topdown iterations. Its implementation in Rogue Heroes is to combat the ease of using the right analogue stick to rapidly slash at opponents; if there were no limitation to this, you would be nigh on indestructible. This can be upgraded at the Fitness Center, much like your attack strength, health and mana.
Another curious addition to Rogue Heroes is the ability to farm. You're not able to do this until you obtain the Watering Can, to which you need to explore the overworld and find the Kezar Fist from within the Kezar Ruins. Once you get started on farming, you'll quickly learn that it's as basic as farming gets. In a nutshell, you dig, plant a seed, pour water on it and wait until it's time to harvest. From here, you can sell your produce at the stand in the town centre, which takes a simplified stock market setup, meaning that the player needs to be mindful to sell when the market is high and holding on otherwise.
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Swapping through items one at a time can be tiresome, especially when you need to switch between them frequently. I avoided playing as the mage for a large portion of this game for this very reason and despite modern controllers having more button options than the SNES, it still felt more cumbersome in Rogue Heroes than in A Link to the Past.
World / Level Design
Rogue Heroes presents a fantastic balance between roguelite and your standard adventure genre. The game's overworld is similar to most topdown Legend of Zelda games, with it simplifying the concept a tad by placing the main village in the centre of the town where a Warp Statue awaits you to warp you over to a previously discovered dungeon.
And that is where the more structured aspect of this game comes in. The overworld, unlike the dungeons, never changes. It is a set world with intricately designed areas, resulting in overarching side quests and upon collecting key items when completing a dungeon, you'll be able to delve deeper and deeper into its secrets. It's, surprisingly, a wonderful blend of the two approaches that is rarely seen.
The dungeons have clever puzzles and are also streamlined by allowing the player(s) to spend gems when reaching a new level so that you can take the stairs straight to those levels during your next attempt. The dungeon puzzles can spark great cooperation and communication when playing co-op (whether that be local or online), with some of them requiring absolute teamwork and timing. The downside to this is when you are only playing solo, resulting in some puzzles either being tedious or downright impossible tobeat. The puzzles also become repetitive after a while due to the game's roguelite nature, meaning that you'll roll your eyes when encountering a tedious puzzle throughout multiple runthroughs.
Story / Personality
The plot doesn't particularly take centre stage and the NPCs, whilst conveying a hint of personality from time-to-time, appear few and far between each. Although, they do fulfill their purpose of setting up context to the adventure and the NPCs provide an adequate amount of dialogue for side quests. The personality does what is required of it but unlike the Legend of Zelda series, not 0ne character is memorable.
Graphics / Art Direction
As mentioned quite a few times throughout this review, it is almost impossible to not compare this game to A Link to the Past. The most obvious example of this is in the gane's art direction, with some textures feeling like they've been taken directly from the Super Nintendo classic. The enemies, at least, maintain some level of originality and while the environments are bright and easy to look at, the enemy design is the game's only claim to visual originality.
Final Score: 70%
If a child asked their mum for a Zelda game and she said that they had Zelda at home, she'd be referring to Rogue Heroes. It has all the makings of a quality topdown action-adventure game and it's made all the more enjoyable when played with friends, but it leaves a little to be desired in the personality department. It's a fun game that has a lot to offer, but it just doesn't go anywhere beyond that.
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