Star Renegades Paints a Vivid Picture of Interplanetary Conflict – PAX East Preview
Brimming with color and strange personality, the alien skyline of Moros 6 was the first thing I noticed during my demo of Star Renegades, an upcoming roguelite role-playing game created by Massive Damage. Volumes of light spilled down on robot monoliths and fallen giants that dotted the landscape, each artifact of war resting dormant atop the neon hues of matted grass and craggy earth. This sector of space had a history, and I was excited to explore it.
The main objective during my Star Renegades demo was to obliterate one of the Empire’s War Machines – a hulking mech capable of dishing out a lot of pain. Along the way I sabotaged an artillery turret, escaped an imposing group of teleporting henchmen, and leveled up my band of heroes’ stats and equipment. As my party made its way from battle to battle, each time getting closer to our goal, I was forced to make decisions which could affect the turnout of our procedurally-generated mission. Whether I was crossing a threshold into new territory, loading ballistics into a turret, or taking time to search crates for more equipment, each move made in the overworld was significant since the Empire army would subsequently take their own turn.
After destroying a group of adversaries that were defending an important encampment, I was given five turns to escape before a portal opened which would send an unbeatable supply of Empire reinforcements my way. Instead of sticking around to see the chaos unfold, I fled east toward a massive fort, but what was inside would ironically lead to certain death. Waiting for me on the other side of a sun-soaked bridge within the Empire base was a Tier 3 boss known as 05, a red-faced robot with laser hand cannons and a group of bomb droids for extra protection.
Battle in Star Renegades is carried out via individual turns in conjunction with a timeline at the bottom of the screen, which helps to inform the player on which targets to prioritize. Most moves are selected and performed based on the character’s position on the timeline, while certain instant attacks forego turn-order all together. Some characters, like Jens Malric the Saboteur, are able to use abilities which push opponents backwards in the turn sequence to allow Rebel allies to gain advantage in battle. What makes Star Renegades’ combat so interesting in particular is the game’s Intelligent Adversary system, which spawns unique threats and allows enemies to rise in rank and skill over time. While Massive Damage hasn’t finished developing this feature, if successful it could solidify the B-tier enemies in this roguelite as actual characters in the overarching narrative of what’s happening on Moros 6.
My team squared off and prepared to fight the threat that was blocking our path. Wynn Syphex, my party’s resident tank, operated inside of a pink and purple mecha suit while wielding a two-handed, jagged sword that was capable of dealing quite a bit of damage. In a previous fight I was awarded a piece of equipment that modded my Hierophant’s self-shield ability to now protect the entire party when casted. While I made several smart plays with my three-person squad, such as having my tank intercept incoming damage and using my Saboteur to delay enemy attacks, I prioritized the wrong target halfway through the fight which ultimately lead to my team’s demise.
As my time with the upcoming RPG came to a close, Lead Designer Peter Mclaren spoke about additional features coming to Star Renegades, in particular a camp system that will likely be used to recover health and access character-specific battle memories to progress inter-party relationships. Characters within the player’s party will evidently become very close to one another, opening up the opportunity to birth children. I’d guess that new generations of characters will inherit an amalgamation of their parents’ traits, such as Friendship, Charge Shields, or Quick Learner – the latter of which allows a character to level up faster.
While it’s not releasing until at least next year, Star Renegades and its rich look into planetary mecha warfare appears to be a promising addition to the roguelite sub-genre. Additionally, the game’s gorgeous pixel art and lush synth soundscape brings to life the intricate details of a world that’s keen for exploration.
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