For a genre defined by unpredictability, roguelikes often sound staggeringly boring. These are games for initiates, cast in the image of celebrated forebears – you at least have to know what Rogue is, whereas a first-person shooter speaks for itself. They are also firmly systems-led to the point of dryness. As such, their marketing materials tend to read like anatomical checklists, the same vital organs passed from developer to developer.
Vagante’s Steam feature sheet certainly didn’t set my world on fire: procedural generation, “choose how you play”, “tough but fair”, some unabashed debts to Spelunky plus a dollop of RPG-style levelling. I probably don’t need to tell you that it’s a pixelart affair. But then I played for 15 minutes, got sat on by a Baby Dragon and realised that Vagante is a game of quiet originality and verve. With apologies to developer Nuke Nine for being a cocky arsehole, here are a few bulletpoints of my own creation.