Platforms: PC | Xbox (Game Pass)
Early Access Date: February 6th 2020
In the beginning...
Being the hero has its perks. Cool white hair, platinum sword, and divine abilities that can suspend your body midair as you cut down enemies looking to put your head on a pike. ScourgeBringer begins by introducing the hero as the last hope of the world. The story is nearly all contained in the opening scene where it recounts the arrival of the "ScourgeBringer". The protagonist is introduced, you are outfitted with your trusty weapons, and you begin your descent into the bowels of the ScourgeBringer.
You are tasked with fixing it, everything. Save the world from the bringer of death suspended in the sky. Each stage of this journey follows the same objective where you must find a sub-boss and claim its life to unlock the boss room then defeat the Judge inside.
Within each room of the stage there is life, whether it be a shop, enemies, or buffs, no room goes unused. Movement around these rooms is effortless. A dedicated dash button hurdles you toward each enemy and keeps your character off the ground. Swing - Dash - Swing combinations flow freely as you move between enemies while clearing a room. Run out of health and this joy ride is over. In true roguelike fashion you are returned to the Chiming Tree to purchase new skills, revering the opening that leads back to the same sequence of stages you'd just been expelled from.
Reviewing the plan...
According to Flying Oak Games (FOG) steam store page, "ScourgeBringer's Early Access will last for 6 to 8 months depending on your feedback...You can expect ScourgeBringer to double its content during the Early Access."
From these statements we can expect a couple of things during early access. First, FOG could extend the duration of EA based on community feedback. Second, the team is already committed to 3 levels, 12ish more enemies, 6 more boss types, and 5ish more gun variants. They expect these additions to take another 6-8 months to complete and deliver into our hands.
The question of whether I would be satisfied with FOG's current plan is a difficult one. In short, I don't think I would be totally satisfied. The replayability of ScourgeBringer scores low points when compared to other titles within the roguelike genre, like Dead Cells or Enter the Gungeon. Reading that there are only plans to increase levels, enemies, gun variants and skills, well that's a deal-breaker for me. However, recounting the first statement, the duration of the early access can be extended based on community feedback.
Feedback is free...
Given that the game just entered early access, the players and fans have the ability to actually affect the final product and there are few options to do so. You can send feedback from within the game, hit the steam forums, or join the discord channel with already about 700 members. The discord channel is full of suggestions and requests, where you're also invited to participate the channel's pizza wars.
Its only fair to see how well Flying Oak can respond to fans during early access and what new systems they will implement from fan feedback.
If I were to condense some of my feedback for the final product, this would be my list:
Challenge Rooms with guaranteed loot.
Bigger rooms, more obstacles, more diverse and challenging enemy combinations.
Quests, or secondary objectives.
More main weapons than just a sword.
More RPG elements and/or general replayability.
Rewards for beating the game, possible ascension mode similar to Slay the Spire.
No doubt the ScourgeBringer's off the ground gameplay is a blast to take around the track. The controls are highly responsive and the enemies we've faced so far provide an excellent challenge. But when reviewing Flying Oak's statement about pricing I can't justify an instant buy. On the steam page it reads "With the game doubling its scope, and possibly more during the Early Access, it is likely that it will be priced differently when leaving Early Access. It’s still fuzzy, but we are planning to keep the price under $20."
When comparing the planned final product to games like Enter the Gungeon, who shares the same price at $14.99, Scourge falls far from the tree of replayability and content. It is worth to mention that Both Dead Cells and Gungeon also had large free updates after their official releases. It's only fair to see how well Flying Oak can respond to fans during early access and what new systems they will implement over the next several months. While Scourge is seriously fun to play, my recommendation is to wait and see how the game develops. I won't fail to mention that the game is included with the Xbox Game Pass, if you're a pass holder don't hesitate to check this one out.