Whenever I hear someone describe a game as a “roguelite” I immediately think that it’s simply a politer way of saying that you will die a lot. ScourgeBringer is a roguelite – and yes, you will die a lot. But you will at least have a good time.
ScourgeBringer describes itself as a fast-paced free-moving roguelite. You play as Kyhra, the last warrior of her kind and she has been sent out to explore a large technological monolith that hovers over the landscape, and discover the mysteries that lie therein.
As setups go, it ticks a lot of boxes and ScourgeBringer does enough to bring you up to speed quite quickly, before establishing some of the reasons behind each death and rebirth.
All of this is done with a great pixel art style that makes ScourgeBringer play like a true old-school 2D platformer, but with all the fluid controls and progression that you would expect in a modern game. Kyhra looks good as she jumps and bounces across each of the many rooms you explore, and even when the action on-screen gets overly chaotic it is still easy to spot her should you need to dodge an oncoming attack or dash towards an enemy.
However you cut it, a decent roguelite is only as good as its reward loop. If you are going to die a lot, doing so has to have some meaning to make your progress feel worthwhile. I have played plenty of roguelites now to know that if I am going to die repeatedly without feeling like I am getting better I will turn it off long before the frustration drives me to throw my controller at the wall.
Luckily, the reward loop in ScourgeBringer manages to tick all the right boxes. Each loop has you earn Blood Gems, which can be spent at merchants you meet throughout the map. These upgrades are immediately applied to your current run, with some having more of an immediate impact than others. New guns or stat upgrades are all well and good, but if you are on your last heart there is something extra satisfying of hitting up a boost that refills your health bar at just the right time.
Alongside these merchants, each biome has one Altar of Blood Blessings which will grant a boost to your current run. These are more powerful than the equipment that you can buy from the merchants but will be lost when you die.
While the upgrades you acquire in-game are lost after each run, there is a skill tree that can be upgraded to award you with more permanent stat upgrades and abilities. What ScourgeBringer does really well is in the progress you make through this skill tree – I felt like each run took me closer to a beneficial reward that I was certain would give me the edge I was looking for to get further, and no sooner would I unlock that than I would spot another skill to unlock and the cycle would begin again.
By having fixed upgrades that I could work towards I felt like I had some control over the progress I was making without the random element so many roguelites rely on. Being able to plot out the skills I wanted felt much better than just having to rely on chance, and it gave me a greater sense of control over each playthrough.
The skill tree is accessible upon death, and sometimes I found myself excited for my next death as I knew I was able to unlock a skill that would really start to make a difference. Alongside that, I know it was probably psychological, but by having a skill tree and upgrading the skills that I wanted to focus on it definitely felt like each run was getting easier the more I played.
That isn’t to say that ScourgeBringer is an easy game, because it isn’t by any stretch. It is punishing, and there are a few runs where you will get further than you ever had only to fall at the first biome on the next go and feel like a weakling. ScourgeBringer is fast-paced, and its arcade-like action means it is easy to pick up and play, so a death and restart never really felt like an ending.
As for gameplay, ScourgeBringer plays fast and fluid. Controlling Kyhra is fun and the controls feel tight, so even when you do die you don’t feel like it was because of a missed jump or a poorly executed attack. Amongst many of the upgrades available are new attacks that further aid you in your journey, and there while there are enough attacks in your arsenal to offer variety, you never feel overwhelmed or at a loss for what to next.
In order to progress in ScourgeBringer, you must first defeat a mini-boss, which in turn will unlock the gate to the realms final boss, which when defeated will reveal a portal to a new realm where the process begins again.
Each realm resets upon death, with the order of each randomised so that although you might find familiar rooms, the overall layout is never the same. Thankfully, you can unlock a map which is a huge help in preventing you from getting lost while at the same time helping you navigate each biome as quickly and efficiently as possible.
I’ve spent a good amount of time with ScourgeBringer and I’ve come away surprised at how well the game’s arcade/roguelite pairing works. Each death felt like it was getting me closer to the end while the fast-paced runs meant I wasn’t frustrated at my lack of overall progress. That being said, roguelites are still a long way from being my favourite genre, but ScourgeBringer has earned itself a place on my consoles, at least until I’m done with it.
Scourge Bringer PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
ScourgeBringer is exactly what you would expect from a game that sells itself as a “fast-paced, free-moving roguelite”. It does exactly what it says on the tin while providing an arcade-style experience that surprised me in how satisfying it felt. If you like roguelites then ScourgeBringer will definitely scratch that itch – but be warned, you will die a lot. Obviously.
- Fast-paced action that is both satisfying but quick to master
- A great reward loop that means you are never too far away from the next upgrade or boost
- Tight controls that allow you to zip around the room easily
- Adaptive difficulty means you never really know if the game is lowering the difficulty or if you’re getting better at playing it
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS5, PS4, PS Vita.