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Minigames, Meet IF! Plus Bananas!, November 11, 2010
ROGUE is a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi trek that'll keep you coming back for more.
Normally when I play IF, I play to get through the story. And often, IF is streamlined to that end: the rooms you encounter and the people you talk to and the objects you find are all designed to either get you "in" to the story (through atmosphere and object descriptions) or get you to the end of the story.
ROGUE's mission areas are one of the few instances I've seen in IF where you can plunk around for a long, enjoyable time, not doing anything to further the plot (if you desire). In other words, ROGUE's mission areas act as a minigame, and a darn fun one at that.
You can play an infinite amount of missions, because they're procedurally generated. But they're not lame missions, no--each world you're beamed to has its own fully-realized character, whether it's a cybernetic city or a series of grassy fields.
When you're done with a mission, you return with all kinds of crazy loot, resulting in kooky commentary from the doctor about the booty. Oh, yeah, and you get money, too, which means you can buy things from the store. Delivery to your, uh, "home" is automatic; once you've bought something, return to your house and see the awesome alien junk you've acquired!
The ability to buy all the store's random merchandise and play the missions at your leisure, without being required to do anything to advance the plot--heck, without being *penalized* for not advancing the plot--delighted me. Absolutely delighted me.
I also enjoyed the unconventional setup of ROGUE. It starts in a prison. I was expecting it to go 1984, but then I (Spoiler - click to show)wind up a lab experiment. I was expecting it to go (Spoiler - click to show)PORTAL, but then suddenly I'm roaming around like a (Spoiler - click to show)TOMB RAIDER with access to the Home Shopping Network. Then things go kablooie and now I feel like I'm driving through (Spoiler - click to show)DIE HARD. And that ending? (Spoiler - click to show)What is this, THE PRESTIGE meets TEMERAIRE? It was wonderful to have my expectations swept aside in such fun ways.
I do have one complaint, though, and it almost made me take off a star.
Dr. Sliss' cursing.
I understand this game has a subversive sense of humor. And yes, parts of Dr. Sliss' questionaire raise an eyebrow. But in my mind, the main bulk of the game felt "PG," so encountering such strong language in the finale felt really REALLY jarring to me. It didn't fit the tone of the rest of the game.
Plus, while I know IF is generally made By Adults, For Adults...the whole scenario has a Bruce Coville/ARTEMIS FOWL kind of vibe that I think middle-school kids would get a kick out of. I would have loved to've played this game as a kid, and I know there are a lot of parents and children out there today who'd have fun playing through this together. With all kindness, I invite the author to consider editing out that language in a post-comp release.
Even if that never changes, I highly recommend ROGUE OF THE MULTIVERSE. You'll love the alien cultures, you'll love Sliss, you'll love the rip-roarin' finale, and you'll love taggin' random items for booty. It's a blast.