The brutally difficult reputation of the Rogue-like genre is so often paired with pixel art and old school side scrolling aesthetics that most people would describe it using those features. Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky; all pay homage to classic games. Full Mojo Rampage isn’t that though. There’s no pixelated edges in the dark hues of its voodoo inspired art style and no platforming to be found.
For those familiar with The Binding of Isaac, combining a twin-stick shooter and Rogue-like might not seem far fetched. Full Mojo Rampage puts the shooting first though. The game plays, fast controls well, and requires almost constant movement to avoid getting hit. It’s a hard game but, rather than throwing out bursts of action, keeps the pedal jammed to the floor. Enemies spawn, and keep spawning, as you advance through the level. Retreating spawns enemies. Standing in one place spawns enemies. Approaching an objective spawns even tougher enemies. There is no getting away, and I often found a tactical retreat turning into a white knuckled flight for my life.
Levels are accessed via an overworld map that anyone familiar with traditional platformers will feel at home navigating. Each level draws from one of a handful of templates, with the most common being the dungeon and themed templates. Dungeons are little nuggets of traditional Rogue-like goodness – packed full of tight corridors, spike floors, and deadly enemies – while the themed areas change style after each boss is beaten and are structured around a specific objective.
Perhaps it’s my enjoyment of games like Dark Souls and Rogue Legacy coloring my perception, but I found the Dungeon areas of Full Mojo Rampage the most enjoyable. They’re considerably tighter than the standard levels and offered a variation of encounters room to room that I appreciated. The rarer random levels that made an appearance on the overworld map were also a nice change of pace, and I would love to see them expanded upon for the full release of the game.
Full Mojo Rampage isn’t perfect, and perhaps bringing up nitpicks with an alpha is a bit in poor taste; however, I found the edge wearing off the base difficulty as I advanced through the game’s “Rogue-lite” leveling system. I had trouble deciding whether that was a product of being given too much power, or a game that simply didn’t have teeth as sharp as what I’ve come to expect from a Rogue-like. I still got beat down in the opening stage of my first attempt, but as I played on I came to realize that was probably more a symptom of that area being a dungeon. The challenge of the normal levels faded after a handful of attempts, leaving me to throw myself at each area’s boss a handful of times.
That gradual decrease in difficulty ultimately meant that more the common large, open areas began feeling like a bit of grind. I also found myself foregoing the magic staffs that serve as shot upgrades in the name of having something consistent. Those nitpicks should probably be taken with a grain of salt though. I played roughly 4 hours of the alpha, which is likely much longer than the developers planned. Perhaps that speaks more to the quality of the game than I’m capable of. Over The Top Games has some tweaking to do, and a lot of content left to add, but Full Mojo Rampage is definitely a game I’ll be keeping an eye on.