It’s not too often these days that you come across a game that offers up a description which makes you stop and scratch your head. Developer Sengi Games and publisher Team17 bring you The Serpent Rogue. Now, I could sit here and type out why this made me stop and scratch my head but I think I’ll let the devs do that themselves.
The Serpent Rogue is a botanical action-adventure game set in a medieval fantasy world. Master the art of alchemy, explore forgotten lands, tame wild beasts and protect the realm from impending disaster. You will craft, brew, boil, & concoct potions all in your stead to defeat an ominous danger!
Yes, you read that right. A botanical action-adventure game. No, I have no idea what that meant either when I first read it, but do you know what? It looked pretty damn good.
The Serpent Rogue was a title I knew nothing about. I’ve not been following this one and only learned of it via some random browsing. Yet, just the idea of being sent on a botanical adventure got me interested. You play as an unnamed alchemist known only as The Warden. When the titular Serpent Rogue appears on Mount Morbus, it begins to spread its evil through the land. This is where you come in, as The Warden is tasked with using his alchemy to defeat the evil and stop The Serpent Rogue from taking over the land.
In terms of the story, there is nothing here that is outstanding or really very original at all. Naughty evil turns up and you have to stop it. However, how The Serpent Rogue plays and how it combines several gameplay ideas is rather great. There is some basic combat here, equip a weapon and swing it and a bad guy kind of basic. If I were to highlight a disappointment with the game, then the combat would be it. There is a block button and all you have to do is hold down block, wait for an opening and attack. Very little skill is required and there is minimal variation. As I said, the combat here is basic. But everything else? Well, it’s actually pretty damn involved.
There’s a lot of exploration and the map offers up plenty for you to see and do. Lots of NPCs to interact with, hidden areas to discover and more. Then there is the resource gathering that you’ll need for crafting. Strip bushes of any berries, pluck leaves, chop up planks to make wood and going fishing are just the tip of the iceberg. With those resources, you’ll need to research them to find out what properties they have and how best to use them. Then you need recipes to follow, recipes that can be used to cook, craft and concoct a plethora of items. Make (degradable) weapons and tools, upgrade those weapons and tools. Cook food to help with your survival and feed animals (that you also need to research) to befriend them. Then there is the potion making, oh boy is that a lot of fun.
You can make a wide variety of potions. Some of these potions can do the usual of topping up your health and so on, but then there are potions that you can use to change yourself into a wide variety of creatures. Or you can even turn your enemies into animals and make fights a bit easier. Having trouble against a particularly tricky foe… just turn it into a rat and smack it in the face. Of course, making these potions goes back to the whole resource gathering, research and all that gubbins. It’s not as if you can just pull out a potion and away you go. You really need to think ahead, use your ingredients sparingly and well. In terms of crafting and so on, The Serpent Rogue really offers quite a lot of depth. You can’t just jump in to this game and hit the ground running. There is a lot of crawling before you can walk and a lot of walking before you can run. This also brings with it another bugbear.
The Serpent Rogue just throws you in at the deep end from the moment you start the game. There is a lack of a tutorial outside of done very light guidance and you will get lost in all this game has to offer very early on. You’ll spend the first few hours using a lot of trial and error as you get used to all the mechanics here. I had to restart my game four times as I did things that made progression pretty damn difficult just because I had to play around and experiment with things, all because the game itself doesn’t tell you much. Even if you are experienced with these types of crafting and exploration games, there’s still a lot to take in and a lack of a tutorial does make things rather aggravating at first. Still, stick with it, learn from your mistakes and The Serpent Rogue offers up a rather impressive and deep game.
Even things you do in the game will shape the world you are in, as there is a cause and effect thing going on. If you kill a lot of enemies and leave the corpses around, that will attract ghouls. Choose to stockpile items in one place and you may attract unwanted attention. Leave food lying around and don’t be surprised when a large mischief of rats turns up. Plus, while the map layouts will always be the same, the enemies, items and so on are randomly generated. There is so much variation here that everybody’s playthrough will be unique to them.
Around £15 is the asking price for The Serpent Rogue and that is a good price point too. You do get a lot of game here with a lot of variety. The lack of a tutorial for a game this deep and the rather bland combat is a negative, but they are more of a slight annoyance than anything truly detrimental. The Serpent Rogue will be released on PC (via Steam) and all consoles within hours of me pressing the publish button on this review and I say you should give this one a go.