Over the past few years, the roguelike genre has seen something of a rival. This is especially apparently within the indie gaming scene, where numerous games have cropped up to stake their claim as the best roguelike in the land! Ares Omega is the latest to attempt such a feat, choosing to take more of a sci-fi route, as opposed to the classic fantasy that is often seen.
As is often the case with roguelike games, the story is minimal. There's a slight bit of exposition towards the start of the game, but it essentially boils down to this. They were building autonomous robots on Mars, they turned evil, are now running amuck and need to be destroyed. You have been brought in to be the wielder of justice.
Going in solo against a vast array of hostile robots might seem like a daunting prospect, especially as they seemingly wiped out all civilian and military personnel on the base, but you are given quite a few different armaments to try and get the job done. Weapons fall into six main categories, with the last category being used to house anything that's more on the creative side. The first five categories are a bit underwhelming on that basis, especially since we're in the realm of space combat. Seeing handguns, shotguns and machine guns that look remarkably similar to what you might expect in the current age just seems poor on the creative front. Even the "special weapons" category doesn't get too far away from this, offering sniper rifles, miniguns, flame throwers and grenade launchers. It's only very small array of laser rifles and plasma guns that shout "science fiction".
The game itself plays out as a top-down shooter, where you aim with the mouse and move around using the keyword. It's pretty standard, offering what you'd expect including the ability to perform a dodge roll and close-range melee attacks.
Enemies will offer different challenges as you progress, with some being more melee focussed, while others use a range of projectiles. At the end of each level you will also face a boss-type, which will then become unlocked as a standard enemy moving forward. This helps to keep the experience fresh as you get deeper into the game as not only will you face more enemies at the same time, you will also have to contend with stronger types. It's one of the better aspects of the game, as a lot of the boss-type robots you face will feel unique, with interesting attack patterns and better designs.
You may also lament this too though, as the gameplay itself is quite stodgy. Much of the presentation is quite far below what you would expect and the implementation of mechanics is also not up to scratch. To give one slight example, as it's a top-down shooter you might end up going in one of four main directions (the game is very grid-based). Going left or right or up is fine, but when you are going down you have to be very careful not to click on the UI when you're aiming. It doesn't give you much room for aiming, and the HUD also obscures your view of what's coming up, unlike moving in the other three directions. There's nothing worse than being in a tense firefight to shoot, but end up changing weapon as you were not 100 percent clear on where your cursor was.
The game also seems to penalise you for wanting to use certain weapon types, mainly due to the reliance on ammunition. Before you start, you have the option to buy five different weapons to take with you "“ not something that is very cost effective as they can get quite pricey. However, unless you happen to find ammo for that weapon while you're walking around, once you run out, it's basically a dead slot. If you get unlucky, well, I say that but it happens quite a lot, you end up in situations where you are forced to start using weapons you don't like, because that's all that ends up having ammo.
Say you have a hankering for the laser rifle, well that ammo is pretty damn rare, especially as it's a sub-category weapon type. Not only do you have to hope something drops "special" ammo, you have to hope it's then laser ammo. It would have been more fun to just let you choose five weapons you like, and let you just carry on using them "“ the game is challenging enough as you progress anyway due to the onslaught of enemies. Making it more difficult by forcing you to use worse weapons doesn't add anything positive to the experience.
Likewise, even simple things like the lack of a run button make a big difference. Levels can get quite large, and there's nothing worse than going on a massive trek to find out it's a dead end"¦ then realising you have to walk all the way back.
Ares Omega is a very basic entry into the roguelike genre that seems to hinder itself with a lack of creative choices. Gameplay is functional, but there is very little about this game that helps it to stand out. The boss-type enemies you face are unique, but the same can't be said about many other aspects found within the game.
|Laser guns are fun.|
|Plenty of levels to plough through.|
|Some poor design choices.|
|Lacks the sci-fi vibe it needed.|