Subaeria (PC) Preview

By Nikola Suprak 26.04.2016

Review for Subaeria on PC

For all of their emphasis on randomly generated elements and unpredictable layouts, roguelike games as a whole can become fairly formulaic when developed by someone inexperienced in the genre. A sense of déjà vu can develop very early on, and creativity is often an element sorely missing in the genre. With that in mind, it is hard not to get excited when discovering what the upcoming title Subaeria from the people at iLLOGIKA Studios is all about. It takes the traditional approach to roguelikes and turns it on its head a bit, giving something that might not fit all the traditional preconceptions of what a roguelike should be, but winds up being really creative and promising. Subaeria hit Steam's Early Access last year and hints at exactly what this game might become.

When Subaeria starts up, you find yourself on the run from some very dangerous killer robots. What did the heroine do to earn the ire of such formidable foes? Kill a mob boss's son? Threaten to reveal governmental secrets? It turns out to be far worse than anyone could possibly guess. Her vice is a crippling, massive addiction…to video games. There aren't too many people that have become so addicted that they wound up accruing such a massive debt that robots tried to kill them for it, so she deserves some kudos for that, at the very least. Worse yet, the heroine Styx isn't much of a fighter. In order to survive, she'll need to battle her way through all the robots with only the help of her helper robot and her wits, as direct confrontation is a recipe for instant death. See kids? This is what happens when you get too addicted to Candy Crush Saga and waste money on in-app purchases.

Screenshot for Subaeria on PC

In most roguelike titles, the action is fast and direct. It is essentially an arms race against the enemy, picking up each and every power-up along the way to better go up and poke the bad guys in the face with. Here, things are a bit different. The most obvious change comes from the fact that it is essentially impossible to fight any of the bad guys directly. No uppercuts, jabs, or even a well-placed sucker punch in the arsenal here, as the only way to move on is to trick all the robots into killing each other. Frequently, this is done by luring the bad guys into damage or manoeuvring in such a way to guarantee they hurt themselves or their partners.

There is a small personal drone that follows along and can help gain the upper hand in battle, and the more time spent getting to know the ins-and-outs of this little guy the better, as his help will be instrumental in getting from level to level. Power-ups will allow him to stun a robot or force them to attack their allies, and learning how and when to use all of his little skills will often prove to be the difference between life and death. It is certainly a unique approach to the genre, as the system here is built around indirect confrontation and careful planning.

Screenshot for Subaeria on PC

This is probably just a smidge away from being a true roguelike, but it has enough elements that it seems pretty clearly to be roguelike inspired. The gameplay is more of an action puzzler than anything else, with an emphasis on wits and trying to figure out exactly how to get these killer robots to hurt each other. It is a really clever little concept, and at first diving in and trying to determine the exact weaknesses of all the enemies and ways to exploit them leads to a lot of fun encounters and interactions. There is that sudden rush of joy that comes the moment the best path of attack is discovered, and the various tricks Subaeria comes up with in terms of ways to damage the robots is really quite clever. The procedurally generated environments add just the perfect amount of randomness to the proceedings, and the level of variation this builds into individual runs will likely make this the type of title that can be revisited frequently without growing dull.

The biggest issue at the moment is it is hard to see how exactly they plan to build this up into an entire game. The set pieces and ideas they have so far are clever, no doubt, but they also already feel a bit thin. It is hard to see how exactly this will grow outside of the little taste they've provided so far, and without any further tricks, this is the kind of experience that could definitely grow stale somewhat early. There are only so many ways to trick the enemies into damaging each other, and as there is no way to directly cause damage, there isn't that same sort of quick, frantic fun that is intrinsically built into true roguelike titles. The action here is a bit more methodical, a bit more plodding, and because of this, Subaeria doesn't seem to have the same level of infinite replayability that might be expected.

Screenshot for Subaeria on PC

The current build also leaves a bit to be desired in terms of variety. The levels are meant to be procedurally generated, but common rooms seem to repeat themselves more frequently than is desirable. Enemy types are a bit stale, as well, and although there are a handful of different types, there simply aren't enough here to fill up the entire game. Even ways to hurt enemies seems fairly limited at this time, and all of this combined makes things become a bit repetitive before it should.

Obviously, this build is still in Early Access, so there is time to remedy these shortcomings, but as of now, it is a bit hard to recommend an early purchase when a lot of work still needs to be done to get this where it needs to be. There are also some minor technical issues, including load times that feel a bit too long, particularly for a game where death can come frequently. There is plenty of promise here, but it isn't quite at a build where most gamers are going to be excited about this.

Screenshot for Subaeria on PC

Final Thoughts

Subaeria is a fun game that feels like it's just missing a little something. Once the basic mechanics are learned, it can lead to some clever "combat" focused more on planning how to actually trick the machines into hurting themselves. It is original and really stands out as something unique, but the lack of variety ends up souring the fun before it really should. More variety in…well, just about everything, really, is desperately needed, and perhaps it will get it before Subaeria hits its final build state. It is slightly hard to fully recommend it at this point, as it could be thoroughly entertaining or a little bit dull depending on what they decide to tack on in the coming months. Subaeria is certainly a title worth keeping an eye on, at the very least, as this clever twist on the roguelike formula could really develop into something interesting.

Developer

iLLOGIKA Studios

Publisher

iLLOGIKA Studios

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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