The 7DRL that has been in mechanical incubation for a few years has finally arrived on Steam!
Cogmind is the story of the mini-mechwarrior ascension of hunted AI from a vulnerable naked Core to an armour plated, tech scavenged, weapon besotted, killing machine! The Rise of the Robot. Your mind to the cyber mind.
The hardware heart beating at its core is a traditional roguelike that has been tweaked and tinkered with to provide an explosively tough gauntlet of survival.
Your prime directive is to escape the depths of this robotic prison, using only your sensors and ad hoc construction abilities, using salvaged components from slagged bots who got in your way.
There is a lot to like in the basic premise of the game, but it shines in its Matrix-like presentation, in its effective delivery of information when building your escape "mech" and in the visceral action depicted with dramatic explosions and powerful realistic sound effects.
Did I mention that the sterile labyrinth environment is deformable, a couple of good rockets and you can pretty much cut your own way through the rock!
The game is often pitched as a robot building game, but for me, the level of detail, variety and complexity on offer reminds me more of the design process required when putting together an effective Battle Mech. Subsystems such as locomotion being open to multi-legged, treads, wheels, hover or true flight, multi-slotted weaponry with a deliciously obscene number of options, and an array of utility tech that keeps getting more interesting and tactically useful as you ascend towards your freedom (and possible doom!). These subsystems require careful balancing with your build's limits on weight, heat generation, core protection as well as power and matter resource management. The struggle for survival also takes a toll on the durability of all your components. The machine under your control is not one that takes part in Robot Wars. The machine is more like a sophisticated piece of military hardware such as a MechWarrior or Battletech frame, yet it is built from the ground up, according to your designs or playstyle.
Since the quality of hardware available to you is dependant upon how high you've managed to climb in the complex, and you get zero experience for killing hostile bots, you need to assemble something that just works enough to get you to the next staircase up. But perhaps you can refine your build based on what you find, perhaps it evolves into something better, more sustainable... this more than anything keeps you chomping at the byte and propels the action forward.
All components have detailed specifications, and elaborate ASCII artwork to accompany the depth.
The game runs in both ASCII or tiled mode, and seemlessly weaves the same magic in both modes.
The game is soaked in lore, but not in an overtly obvious way, its hidden in terminals that can be hacked at risk to your anonymity. You can perform cyber-hacking wizardry that will clone your chosen components into blueprints that can be assembled at fabrication stations.
The environments are varied and comprise of procedurally generated zones where a whole ecosystem of hostile and non-hostile bots go about their business whether that be patrolling the area, or cleaning up scrap parts, or fixing the zones infrastructure. There is plenty of diversity on offer in terms of what bots you'll come up against, if you like their kit, you can kill and salvage (or even steal it).
It's a tinkerers paradise. There is always something new to pickup and consider integrating it into your build. There is always something better, somewhere else. And the journey is a battle to out-configure the calamities you will face on the way.
The game delivers a beautiful action framework, lavished with interesting detail and engaging danger, where you can actively take part in an emergent narrative, with surprises galore!
My hopes are that the game will reach an extended audience of not just the diehard roguelike players, but also the tinkering dungeon crawlers and the mech building tactical players who want a deep and interesting challenge.
This is most definitely a traditional roguelike, but it carries the genre into new exciting territory and its a wild ride!
Strap a couple of Particle Guns onto your frame and lets get the hell out of here!
You can check out Cogmind here:
Roguelike Radio Episode 109
If you want to see what Cogmind is like, and learn its mechanics in an easy to follow Lets Play, I'd recommend Quill18's latest run.