Rift Keeper Review

There has been a few Rogue-like games on the market, so why not add a new one to add to the list? This time out we have the 2D side-scroller Rift Keeper. But will you be killing and slashing enemies or will the game be killing your time and patience? Well, to be honest, it’s a bit of both and I shall tell you why.

When it comes to Rogue-like’s you will be expecting lots of death – death galore for both you and your slain victims, and Rift Keeper is no exception. When it comes to the story, well, there’s really nothing of a story at all. All you need to know is that in the main hub there is a portal and this will take you to a new dungeon. This is where the game begins. Now let me just point out there was no real explanation of what to do or in fact how to do anything, though once you get your head around the general flow of things you’ll be on your way.

Your goal is to complete dungeons, with up to eight needed to be cleared to face a big boss, this is what the game is all about. But being a Rogue-like, things wont be as easy as one dungeon after another, oh no, because if you die you can say bye bye to everything you have as you will need to start again from scratch and work towards the boss again, and again. So you may indeed get up to the 7th dungeon, die and have to start again from number one. To add insult to injury every wave gets tougher, so the enemies will get stronger and have more health but you will also gain more gold should you be victorious.

Once you get the hang of things you will be moving back and forth from the hub to the dungeons quickly, but when you’re in the dungeon you will be moving even quicker because every time you complete a dungeon you will win a chest. If you complete it in an allotted time you will gain a bonus chest which normally has some really good loot in it too. Now, completing a dungeon is the key thing here and to do as such you will need to kill at least 70% of the enemies around the map – which is also randomly generated, so you will be hacking everything that moves nice and quickly.

Enemies come in all shapes and sizes which was nice to see, some thought went into these pesky pests. As you approach them they will automatically be drawn to you so you wont be able to sneak, but you can dodge, so you will need to play it safe if you don’t want to die which can (and will) happen any time. Again though, once you have 70% of enemies killed you will need to find a portal to get back to the hub world and try getting new gear and level up your skills.

Gear will help you massively in the game and it’s acquired in two ways; either save up your hard earned cash to buy something before a run, or you may be lucky enough to get a weapon from a chest. When you hand in five collected books found dotted around the levels, you will be able to equip one new weapon, two rings a medallion and even hold a rune which can give you some powerful moves. This is all here to aid you while you stay alive, but the moment you die it’s all gone. This sounds harsh – and you would be correct as it was super harsh – but you can also upgrade your own skills which costs red gems. They basically need to be farmed, because the more you unlock the higher the cost, but you will be able to increase your overall health, money gain and even damage you give out, so its worth sinking points into this.

On to the controls of the game. As I stated earlier, the game doesn’t tell you the controls so you’ll need to figure them out. Well,I did find a control list in the pause menu eventually, but it doesn’t tell you everything. For instance, it isn’t clear that you can even double jump. The means of escaping the dungeons isn’t explained either, so there’s a bit of trial and error until you can figure it out. Depending on what weapon you use, it will increase your stats for your current run. For the most part, this results in you gaining/losing health or attack damage, so you need to play that by ear when it comes to fight in the dungeon.

So on one hand the game has a cool look about it – the pixelated art style is great, with some surprisingly effective gore effects coming across in a visceral way. The dark feel really sets the tone for the dungeons. The music is award winning too, though not to my tastes. Then on the other hand the amount of lag and freezing I had in the game was painful. Every time I would activate something in a dungeon or open a chest the game would freeze for a couple of seconds. Not ideal when every mistake could mean a complete restart.

Conclusion

Rift Keeper throws its hat in the Rogue-like genre but unfortunately comes up a little short. There are some solid ideas buried in there and it’s clear to see the team ambitions. but some technical hiccups held the experience back.

This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Easy to play once you get to grips with the controls
  • Some nice looking visuals and enemy design
Bad
  • No story to keep you invested
  • Issues with lag spikes and freezing
4.5
Poor
Gameplay - 5
Graphics - 5
Audio - 4
Longevity - 4
Written by
I was born to win, well, or at least try. I review games, post news and other content at Xbox Tavern. When that's not happening, I'm collecting as many achievements as possible or hitting up the latest FPS / RPG. Feel free to add me - Gamertag: urbanfungus

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