Are you into cute pixel art rogue lite turn based tactics with big flame throwing mechs and hordes of alien invaders? So are we! Here’s our highly subjective review of Star Renegades, a cute pixel art turn rogue lite tactics with huge flame throwing mechs and the occasional backstabbing scoundrel… All made in the blizzards of Canada by Massive Damage.
Star Renegades is the eternal tale of alien (aren’t we all aliens anyway?) conquerors from another dimension bent on subjugating our galaxy. A rag tag group of dirty dozen styled heroes rise to the challenge, with their personal tales of misfits and customised heavy weaponry.
Playability: Easy turn based combat wrapped in unnecessary pseudo complexity
“Combat in Star Renegades is deterministic, meaning you can see your enemies’ action before they execute, allowing you to DEFEND, CRIT, Stagger, or Break them”…”All attacks have a core damage type that describes what kind of core damage it is (light, normal, heavy, flurry, AoE, Counter, and Combo). “ That’s the gibberish welcoming tutorial of Star Renegades, and no, it’s not a Google translation from Galactic Imperium speech. A friend of mine writes owner manuals for a large manufacturer of sail boats. I don’t know whether he can write game manuals, but you get the drift. It’s pretty much the difference between real clear and fake layers of complexity for simple turn based game mechanics. Fortunately, Star Renegades is actually relatively easy to get into and is totally learnable as you go. On top of that it’s “just” rogue-lite (I don’t really entertain rogue hard core these days).
The Imperium screen shows rows upon rows of the lieutenants and commanders of the enemy hordes that you will face in your campaign. It’s a bit of a cut and paste from Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, where you see the key enemy leaders as they get promoted (or annihilated) through the ranks. It does add a little up front and personal touch, but since the campaign pretty much follows a straight line, there won’t be any random encounters anyway. You can’t really go for that big ugly mech, over another. The Imperium screen is just a pretty screen of Dagan, Menku and other Norosh heads without any gameplay purpose. You move forward on your quest map but you cannot move backward. So not only is the game very linear, it’s one way only…
Star Renegades sends you to a pulse laser fight with a hatchet (very literally). This is the brutal game for those who enjoy overwhelming odds against vastly superior enemies. The problem is that it gets very repetitive, very quickly. You meet the same antagonists with the same set of skills again and again. I found myself reading the newspaper and engaging in cursory combat clicking at the same time… Star Renegades’ grind is atrocious. You accumulate resources slowly across dimensions but your team will get wiped out from the second map on. Rinse, repeat, grind, loop.
Annoyance: No spark despite lots of explosions and unpronounceable names
Star Renegades won’t make you cry, laugh, jump for joy or righteously yell in anger at the injustice of it all. There’s no poignancy, no drama and most times you feel you’re controlling some bots kicking other bots. It’s all in a day’s job without the office drama. You can almost see the code behind the pixel if you have enough imagination. Star Renegades does the job, but it never manages to hook you and reel you into its run of the mill plot.
Unpronounceable names. Yet they seem to be only familiar with American movie clichés. Despite their unpronounceable names, XURX NRZA, WYNN SYPHEX, NODO KALTHORIS ( I write in capitals so that you may have a go), the stars of Star Renegades (or is the renegades of Star Renegades?) seem strangely familiar with American vernacular clichés. No Canadian idioms, eh? Since there is no voice over, you won’t know how these unpronounceable names are properly articulated.
Beauty: Big pixel mechs and pyrotechnics
Explosions of pretty colours galore. Star Renegade pixel art is jam packed with little details here and there. It could almost be used as a “Where is Waldo?” substitute. If Massive Damage published a hardcover book on the art of Star Renegades, I’d be the first one in line. If games were judged on aesthetics alone, Star Renegades would be a gold medallist in the pixel art category. Back to the inane dialogues… to break the visual magic. Is Star Renegades a b flick or a popcorn chill? No, Star Renegades takes itself more seriously than that. Star Renegades just tries too hard to be something, but it doesn’t really know what it wants to be.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: A polished pixel brutal yawner that forgot to be a fun run 6/10
Star Renegades feels like the brain child of one government steering committee too many. It’s a pretty game to look at, and it is polished in many little ways. But not being fun to play can be a bit problematic for a video game… The combat mechanics are not bad, the pixel art often borders on the gorgeous, the storytelling is not bad, the music is not bad. Not bad, but nothing special. Star Renegades gets repetitive very quickly, you can beat the game by brute force by just accumulating resources over lengthy gameplays. So you have to ask yourself whether you want to spend twenty hours on a game that’s not bad, unless you’ve already bought it with high expectations and a friend has asked you to write a review for her blog? The answer might still be a resounding yes! If you’re into pixel art science fiction or space themed games, Halcyon 6, also developed by Massive Damage may be a better option. We also like playing the often overlooked Convoy, a squad based tactical combat based on a planet far away. You’ll get the same pixel art but with a zany dose of operatic humour that is seriously missing from Star Renegades, and you won’t need to fight laser armed giant bots with a kitchen knife.