ITCH.IO - Haque - Review.
By Dag Härdfeldt. Developer: Kevin Cole Platforms: ITCH.IO
Haque is a lovely little roguelike with cozy retro graphics and a fantastic soundtrack. The game is a true roguelike - as the gameplay is similiar to classics such as Hack, Moria, ADOM or (for you consoleheads out there) Fatal Labyrinth on the Genesis/Mega Drive. This means, it´s a turnbased dungeoncrawler. You and the enemies act simultaneously. There are equipment, potions, skills, and of course: permadeath. The game is a bit simpler than most roguelikes. There is no grand story, no complex, in-depth character-builds. There doesn´t seem to be a wide variety of items and equipment, unlike more classic roguelites. There are no complex, branching skill trees. The simplicity is not a bad thing though, quite the contrary. It creates a very casual, enjoyable, relaxing experience. There are still meaningful decisions to be made, and you must approach each level with some strategy. It´s just more a bitesized snack, rather than a grand main course, and sometimes that´s just perfect.
The visuals are a wonderful blast from the past.
The graphics will probably be hit or miss depending on what generation you´re from. If you (like me) are from the 80´s, than the graphics will probably bring out fond memories of discovering weird, magical games on your older brother´s computermachine. There is a certain charm, mystique and nostalgia burnt into this specific visual style, that can awake the childlike wonder you had for games, as a kid - and the developer did a fantastic job of recreating this magic. There is also a plethora of visual options regarding filters and such, so you can tweak it to your liking. If, and this is a big if though, you don´t have any emotional attachment to these kind of visuals, then there is a high chance it will rub you the wrong way. I would however, like to commend the developer for not shying away from the opportunity to add a bit of modern flare to the graphics, regarding animations. The effect for the different spells and skills, are quite beautiful done, and it´s a treat to so such simple graphics move around in such advance patterns. The soundtrack is also absolutely amazing - there isn´t much to say about it, except that it perfectly encapsulates the experience of the game, with atmospheric memorable melodies, packed into a low-key, comfortable groove.
A typical run takes around 30minutes, making it the perfect small time-killer.
There are some small quirks that could have been ironed out. The user interface is, true to it´s roots, not the most intuitive thing in the world. It can be difficult at first to understand the function of your skills, and that information is buried within a forest of keyboard clicks. I also wished the game hadn´t gone for the boring, old post-modernistic self-aware narrative style, with a focus on non-sequitir jokes. Some people might like it, personally - i would have prefered a more true adaption towards the stories that where being told through classic roguelikes, for complete immersion. All in all though - this was a wonderful little nostalgic homage to the roguelikes of yore. It´s perfect for a night of gaming or two, especially if you have vivid memories of games as such. A charming, loveable little trip down nostalgialane - packed in to a sweet tasting, easily digestable package, with a kick-ass soundtrack. Give it a go!
Written by Dag Härdfeldt. 2020-08-16