Thanks to Novy PR and Impact Gameworks for providing GWW with a review build.
Oh I love a good rogue-like. Although, I’ve never played Rogue. I grew up on Diablo - a more action-centric RPG. When I see a new rogue-like I still get excited, but I immediately look for the Diablo-like features to compare against my go-to video game memories of playing Diablo way back in the day. But Tangledeep is not Diablo and that is not a bad thing. Tangledeep is both an homage and iteration upon past rogue-likes. It’s exciting, engrossing and fun to play casually or with passion and determination. Developed by Impact Gameworks, Tangledeep is a call-back to the 16-bit era of gaming. In console terms, that’s the SNES and Genesis. It’s also a rogue-like, which means the character crawls through a procedurally generated dungeon or system of levels. That’s the crux of the Tangledeep. As a gamer you have to be comfortable with death. If you’re hardcore enough, there is a hardcore difficulty setting with perma-death. That’s not me, so I fired up a normal play cycle with the Sword Dancer job class. More on that after a quick overview of the game itself.
Tangledeep is an underground, magical world whose occupants embody varying levels of “the Touch”. The people of the underground villages may choose to venture up to the surface through the Tangledeep labyrinth. And, of course, it’s littered with beasts and automatons. The world is gorgeous and the labyrinth is procedurally generated. Meaning you have a new experience every time you play. The job system is highly customizable, relative to other RPGs I’ve played, and there are hundreds of collectible items - a necessity for any rogue-like. Don’t let the pretty world deceive you. Some types of terrain of a negative effect on your character. Mud, for example, reduces your stamina. You can freely walk through the mud but you’ll want to avoid it if there is combat near ahead. However, the mud may provide a tactical combat advantage depending on the situation. These types of considerations make Tangledeep a blast to play.
There are 9 different classes (“jobs”) to choose from including the Sword Dancer, Paladin, and Rogue. According to the developer, more job classes are coming as well. Combat is tactical, turn-based. That means as you move, the bad-guys move. If you’re still, the bad guys are still. As you strike, they may choose to strike or move. Unlike Final Fantasy, which as an overworld, you’re directly in the thick of the action in Tangledeep.
The soundtrack is chill to listen to and was developed by Andrew Aversa, Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana) and Grant Kirkhope (GoldenEye and Civilization: Beyond Earth). Usually I disable music in RPGs and watch a movie or listen to my own music. After a few hours with Tangledeep, I haven’t done that. Good music helps attune the player to the world. I’m all into Tangledeep.
After several hours with Tangledeep, I’ve found the game to be flexible. I can play it with something else on in the background (i.e. YouTube, Netflix) or with intense focus. In both cases, I had a great time. The turn-based, tactical nature of the game means you frequently stop to think about your next move. But that doesn’t take you out of the experience at all. It’s a part of how the game is wired. Naturally, I found my eyes focused on the next bad guy’s position, particularly in the early levels of the labyrinth. Early on, when I would pause to consider my next move, I would then recall I should also look for treasure chests and other lootable items. Thus, whether intentional or not, I feel the first several levels serve as a tutorial for how to maximize your experience. In fact, as the Sword Dancer, I felt the early level drops were quite good and my increased DPS, light emission, and newly acquired skills made me much more powerful. I’m referring here to labyrinth and character levels of 1-3. It’s not easy to survive - the brutality of any rogue-like exists in this tutorial section, but dying at level 3 is a whole lot more acceptable than level 20. Particularly while you’re still learning the game.
Recommending Tangledeep is easy for any fan of tactical RPGs. If you’re an action-RPG fan, you will find the speed and reward system in Tangledeep familiar.
Tangledeep is now available on Steam (Windows/Mac/Linux) for $13.49 — 10% off the game’s retail price. The sale will end a week after launch (July 26).