Title: Caves of Qud

Platform: Steam, Windows

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Roguelike

Players: Single player

Written by Bad Demoman 19th September 2015

Roguelike is becoming an increasingly wide and difficult to define term. A lot of the time when I try and explain it to someone, I have to refer to a bunch of games that came out over 20 years ago that only Roguelike fans usually know of, such as NetHack and Rogue itself. Roguelikes have strange conventions that don't really seem intuitive to fans of other genres, like permadeath and having to identify items before you can use them, for fear of cursed equipment with massive setbacks attached. From now on though, I think Caves of Qud will be what I use in order to show someone what a Roguelike is all about.

I can see why the more traditional Roguelikes have taken a bit of a decline in favour of “roguelites”, games like Binding of Isaac and Crypt of the Necrodancer. When full playthroughs of the game last 30 minutes to an hour, permadeath is a less daunting and intimidating element of gameplay. I've heard of NetHack runs, on the other hand, that last for up to 5 years. So with their steep learning curve and minimal graphics (the original version of Caves of Qud, similar to many other Roguelikes had ASCII art for graphics), it can be hard to see the appeal. However, there’s a saying that floats around a lot – Limitation breeds Creativity. Some of the funniest, most vivid and interesting stories I've seen and heard that have occurred in a video game have been in Roguelikes – just look at the TV Tropes page for Dwarf Fortress. A vivid imagination can create a far better story than what's available in many triple-A titles today, especially if your provided with an interesting setting too. In this regard, Caves of Qud delivers in spades. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, humanity has largely been mutated – some for the better, some for the worse. Civilization has largely devolved into tribes and villages, lending the world a perfect mix of both fantasy and sci-fi – while the world has cybernetic implants, guns and energy weapons, these are seen as “artefacts” and don't seem to be fully understood or reproducible. And so for many bladed weapons and shields are the weapon of choice.

To survive this wasteland, your weapons aren't your only help – Should you start as a mutated human (which I highly recommend), there’s a host of mutations, both physical and mental, to help you on your way. You can also take on one of a variety of defects in order to give yourself more points to allocate to the helpful mutations. Your combination of defects and mutations with ultimately decide how you end up playing the game, and will even potentially have a hand in how far you get. Rather than anything so simple as choosing your class (although you also will choose a class), this allows a massive amount of freedom in how you end up defeating your foes. You might destroy them in a flurry of attacks with your multitudinous arms, or scorch them with your pyrokinesis. As a result, the replay value is massive. This is essential, as your inevitable and repeated deaths will mean your going to be doing the first few quests a whole lot.

Fighting off the horrific denizens of the Caves of Qud seems simple at first, with a complete lack of animations and your method of attacking involves simply moving into your enemy. However, as fights get harder and harder, managing the cool downs of your abilities and precise positioning around a horde of enemies is all that lies between your hardened veteran of the post-apocalyptic wastes and a strange newcomer arriving at the moisture farming town of Joppa as so many others seem to be doing lately.

Caves of Qud is punishing. It's intensely difficult, in-fact, and by no means an easy game to learn either. But it's rewarding in its difficulty. Every time your mutant gets a little further, you really feel like you’ve accomplished something. That's why Caves of Qud isn't just my new analogy for explaining roguelikes – it's also the standard that I'll compare roguelikes to from now on. And it's not even finished yet!

Written by,
Bad Demoman

If Caves of Qud sounds like it’s up your alley, we’re running a giveaway! Simply like us on facebook, like this preview and leave a comment with your favourite roguelike/roguelite before the 26th of September and you’ll be entered into a draw for a Caves of Qud code and other rogue goodies!


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