The Curse of Yendor (beta preview)

When I saw Bob Saunders (IBOL17) tweet that he was up to offering his new roguelike game “Curse of Yendor” (in closed beta) for comment, I jumped at the chance.

 

 

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This title is a pixel art, straight up, fast playing, classic roguelike, with the added features of deform-able landscape. There are three classes, Warrior, Rogue and Wizard, and you have three higher powers to look towards for initial help (a Light Sorceress, A Dark Necormancer and a Grey Wizard). You can play it Casually, Normal, Hard or Insane. So the entire spectrum of play is already catered for.

The graphics are surprisingly good for pixel art, even when scaled up to 1920×1080, they certainly invoke a feeling of “retro”, if that’s a thing.

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The movement can be controlled by keyboard or mouse, and your 8 direction num-pad or VI keys are supported. The actual command set is stripped down and really quite memorable, although some keystokes can be a little off the beaten path with roguelike convention. if you’re stuck just press ‘?’ to have a full list displayed before you, to help out. Inventory and elemental spells are surprisingly streamlined.

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You have everything before you when playing. Mini-map, stats, equipped items, inventory and various actions and options available to you in a handy toolbar bottom right. I presume this is meant to cater for the later Android version of the game more than the PC version. Tool-tips over the handy bubbles would be nice.

It is bump to attack for the warrior, or use range weapons (press ‘s’ to shoot ranged weapon), or cast spells with the wizard. There are the usual trappings of a hunger clock, mana and health management along with XP and gold collection. There is also a collection of rare jewels, that can boost aspects of your characters play.

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There are traps and puzzles (lock and key, push etc) in the game that are not always obvious, as well as teleports to other locations and ways around these obstacles. The main hook that the game presents is the ability to deform the environment, to gain access to areas normally blocked off, and you can pick up picks with finite charges, and turn on (or off) the auto-dig as you move, to carve through the rock (harvest the crystals within for gold) and tunnel your way to another room.

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Traps can have devastating effects, with elemental forces acting upon your hero. Poisons, burning, freezing etc. In addition to the pick-based deformation, you can utilise your spell capabilities to torch woods and grassy areas, to freeze waters, and shake down walls with your earthquakes.  So you may be trapped and in big trouble, but one of the main attractions of the Curse of Yendor is that you will ALWAYS have options available to you, and you don’t need to look at a Wiki page to make the decision.

 

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Everything is labelled and up front for you, and your attacks and effects scroll upwards in text above you. Even though the exploration and combat can be fairly simple on each level, you can be hit by several state effects and wander into a vicious area and find yourself in trouble. I’m the Light Warrior on fire, being smothered by Night-slimes.

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You can always find mana and health gems on the level, if you look hard enough and pace yourself. Along with XP scrolls and various boosts. As long as you consider all your options in every tight spot, you should be able to get out of most dangerous situations with cautious movement, inventive action use and keen decision making.

I think the biggest plus to take away from Curse of Yendor is that the environment that surrounds you is your biggest ally and your enemy – understanding how you can interact with it, is key to success in nasty tactical predicaments.

My advice, don’t cast your fireball spell on the lawn, near an orchard and a field of cacti. Things could get warm pretty quickly.

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Overall, Curse of Yendor is accessible, quick to play, doesn’t require a massive time and effort investment to become familiar with the mechanics and provides a tense and shifting set of tactical objectives, puzzles and surprises to keep any adventurer placated in between their favourite heavy duty roguelike obsession. It has more depth than most accessible roguelikes, it offers up more tactical options and decisions to be made, even with the streamlined accessible interface, and when it comes to environment deformation and manipulation there are very little competitors that do it so convincingly.

 

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The title is still in beta, and IBOL is very keen to get testers to have a go and flex their skills in the game. From my playtime with it, I haven’t found any bugs, the experience is smooth and enjoyable, and the visuals on offer are really easy to process tactically, and very appealing on the eye.

I can see there are more depths to be explored, dug through and blown up with my earthquake spells – it’s certainly an upcoming roguelike to keep your eyes on.

Thanks to IBOL for letting me take part in the beta, and for being able to write about the experience.

 

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See here for more details:

https://ibol17.itch.io/the-curse-of-yendor

P.S. The game was originally known as “Fetch-Questy!” 

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