It's no exaggeration that I have played more than a handful of roguelikes over a year, with many more in the queue and a lot more in the future. There's nothing wrong with the genre, I just underestimated how popular it was especially in terms of game development. Uragun opened my eyes to why the genre received a meteoric rise, but I need to clarify something. I say "roguelike" this and "roguelite" that a lot, so I'll remind others what these terminologies mean. A quick thanks to Kool2Play for allowing us to cover Uragun!
The "rogue" genre is often a linear type of game where players attempt to reach the end of a run with limited resources, usually with one life by default. Upon defeat, the player is usually given a form of permanent currency that unlocks permanent upgrades for future runs. Usually, the player dies from something unfair and repeats the cycle over and over again until they feel comfortable enough to go the distance. Of course, this is also a merit of skill as some players will reach the end quickly and with fewer upgrades than others. This also depends on the general difficulty of the game as that is what makes or breaks a "rogue" game.
If the difficulty is fair but challenging, it'll make the challenge satisfying to overcome. However, any extremes in a game being too difficult or too easy is a bad sign as the game will continue to fight against the player at worst or become a one-person wrecking crew at best. Uragun's main weakness is that the game is too short for it to fully reap the benefits of the roguelike foundation it lays down. There are a total of four biomes all based on real-world locations. Uragun begins in the desolate ruins of Barcelona followed by the underground laboratories of Nairobi. After the snowcapped mountains of North America, the game shifts to Hong Kong, the game's final biome and where the rogue AI takes its last stand.
Each biome has four mini-bosses and four main bosses, with the general strategy being the same for almost every encounter. Uragun is a "twin-stick robot shooter" similar to Blackwind. I'd almost preferred if it was structured the same as Blackwind, a game where I mentioned that the story wasn't its strongest suit but the gameplay made up for it. Both games give off an exhilarating feeling of destroying hundreds of enemy robots but in Uragun's case, it's dependent on how lucky RNG blesses the player with good drops. The weapons in Uragun are fairly powerful and with a few weapon modifications, I've found a setup that broke the game wide open.
Uragun has an Overdrive mechanic that increases in multiplier proportional to the amount of damage the player does to enemies. As the player destroys more robots, the Overdrive gauge fills until it's ready for use. Entering Overdrive increases the player's attack damage and bullet spread while entering a slowdown mode similar to Bullet Time. While the damage boost is appreciated, the slowdown effect is what breaks the game as granting the player to shoot first before the enemy, especially in a roguelike, is a very useful skill to have. One of the two default weapons, the minigun, has a short range but a decent spread.
There's a weapon augment that increases the area of bullets, making a single spread turn into three. These abilities stack, meaning that with one simple modification, the starting minigun can turn into a shotgun with decent enough range. The minigun also has a high rate of fire, which applies on-hit effects more efficiently than the rocket launcher or rail gun. Now, what if instead of a minigun, the player had an actual shotgun? I couldn't find much of a difference between the two in terms of range, but the shotgun's damage by default was far superior to the minigun.
With the right conditions, the shotgun shredded through enemies with minimal effort, and being in Overdrive meant I could fire freely without risk of getting hit. I would regain my Overdrive meter within moments of exiting Overdrive mode and all I had to worry about was not taking damage. The Overdrive multiplier resets once the player takes damage but it's not severe enough to stop the player from getting another bonus. Once I figured this out, the objective was to remain in Overdrive throughout each biome to the boss.
It's a slight shame because I could tell the developers did what they could to "put out all the stops" when it came to the later biomes in the game. Layers of enemies spawn in tight sections, some of which explode upon defeat. Since the player is completely vulnerable when dashing, if the player has the two upgrades that lower the cooldown for each dash, not only are they a death machine but they are also a nimble death machine. In the end, it wasn't enough. I was one mission away from getting to the final boss but the tight sections and hazards were enough to finally kill me.
While Uragun is not a terrible game, figuring out the game's win condition by the third attempt is usually not a good sign for the long term. It becomes an "if it's not broke don't fix it" situation where nothing is stopping me from abusing the same mechanic for a future run if it got me this far from the beginning. To fix this, the developers could include alternate weapons and augments that give the player a chance to play Uragun differently.
As simple as Dead Cells was, there was always that one weapon that made me reconsider my path as it was far different than a regular "sword." More biomes wouldn't hurt either, as it took me a little over forty minutes to reach Hong Kong for the first time making it there. Despite this, for the asking price, it's a fun experience so long as players know that it will more than likely be a fleeting one.
Uragun is available on Steam.