Clever Plays releases its action packed sci-fi rogue-lite shooter Leap of Fate on Steam for under £12 but is the game worth your time and money? In short yes because there’s a really neat pick up and play game on offer here where four characters fight for survival or at least as far as they can go against progressively tougher opposition.
To begin, you take on the role of rogue mage Aeon in a futuristic New York. You’re introduced to the basics of of shadow running, shooting and of course the cards which determine what you do next. In a nutshell you’re tasked with choosing one of several card types culminating in the level boss fight. The cards range from basic fights to challenges, upgrading the character and the aforementioned boss. The cards are stacked in a certain way so the player has limited choice in where to go next. What is neat is being able to return to cleared cards to mop up any items left behind or not needed initially. So for example if there’s a health pick up left over that wasn’t needed at the time, if before facing the boss card your health needs topping up you can grab the health you left behind. It’s a neat system that works well and means there’s a basic level of tactics involved in how you choose your card paths.
As mentioned you’re able to upgrade the character with passive or active skills which help with movement and attack power. There are also other bonuses to be had once you clear a level. On top of this there are missions which can be completed which range from killing X number of enemies, gathering manna, opening specific key locked chests and other neat ways to beat the levels. Completion of these unlocks skills which carry through in each game – remembering that this is a Rogue-lite experience which means any regular upgrades you gain are lost if you perish.
The game’s combat is simple enough and is more akin to a twin stick shooter. You’ll move a cursor to highlight a direction you want to aim and then hold a trigger to continuously fire. A tap of a shoulder button will enable you to shadow Walk across gaps and through groups of enemies giving you a tactical edge and there are special Glyph power moves available too should you get in a pickle, although these are energy based and can’t be continuously spammed. It’s a easy game to pick up and play but as you move through levels ramps up the challenge.
Visually the game offers some varied locales to fight in, although the rooftops of the opening are pretty neat and typically sci-fi offering destructible scenery and suitable enemy types. As you progress the enemies get a little more unusual looking but still make for neat cannon fodder when there are explosions and screen filling madness to take in. It’s a fast paced game so focusing on the scenery is not something you’ll do often except for fleeting glances whilst shooting. The game runs smoothly too with a neat constant 60 frames per second. If there’s one gripe with the visuals though it’s the switch to a confined view when fighting. The menus and between stages are all full screen, but when actually playing you lose a lot of screen real estate to darkness which is a shame. As you would expect there are a few cutscenes to tell the story and a thrilling sound track to drive home the action, although if you’re not into screaming guitars then it might be worth a mute after so many hours playing.
In terms of longevity there are three additional characters to unlock too who each have their own levels of mastery. Big Mo has a charge beam which is powerful but can overheat leaving you vulnerable if you’re not careful. The lone female Mukai is much more difficult to play and relies more on close quarters combat making for a complete contrast compared to the others. Over the longer term the aim is complete the missions to unlock the permanent bonuses for each character which also include additional skins to mess around with. There’s also a hard difficulty for those who want to up the challenge further.
Leap of Fate takes the basic formula of twin stick shooting action and adds its own card based twist and differing characters to proceedings making for a neat game you can jump into for short bursts of spend a greater time playing — whatever suits. Whilst the top down view means characters and enemies are small, there’s enough details amongst the action here to keep players well entertained although it has to be said the game’s challenge is quite steep especially when the screen is filled with effects. What’s neat about each time you play are subtle randomized differences which can give you an edge which makes for some great replay value. Sure, there’s a bit of luck thrown in but that’s the nature of the rogue-lite genre. If you like sci-fi, shooters and a choose your own path approach then this is a cool game to sink some hours into. Oh and the price is relatively cheap too.
Score – 8.5/10