It’s Rogue-like month here during June for absolutely no reason whatsoever, so I’m going to be looking at four different lesser-known games with Rogue elements that you may or may not have heard of. So far, we’ve seen Hellmut: The Badass From Hell, but today it’s the turn of Rico.
This week’s offering is Rico, a first-person shooter themed around fighting through various buildings, gathering evidence to have crime lords arrested. You pick a character – based on cop movie stereotypes of course – and play through a training stage before being sent into your first real mission. Every stage has you starting a building — an apartment block, warehouse or some such — and tasks you with finding all the evidence and then escaping. You’ll get other objectives along the way, such as clearing all the rooms, defusing bombs, or headshotting a number of enemies. The gameplay consists of kicking doors down and shooting baddies a whole lot. When you put your boot through the door, you get a few moments of slow motion to give you time to take out as many threats as possible. Most enemies die pretty quickly, but there tend to be a lot of them that can chip away at your health quickly, so you might want some more effective weapons than the pistol you start with.
Acquiring new weapons happens between stages and is based on those bonus objectives I mentioned. The more you complete, the more merits you earn (with more challenging ones being worth more merits) which can then be spent on weapons, attachments, and items between stages. Trying to get anywhere without spending your merits is going to result in a quick failure, so you’ll want to complete those objectives. Once you’re rearmed, you’re taken to a map of nodes to select your next stop on your way to the kingpin and you do it all again. Until you inevitably die.
It’s actually pretty fun! The shooting mostly feels very solid (especially in slow motion) and kicking a door down before blasting your way through a room is a simple but very addictive loop. The Rogue-like elements work well in the stages, as it keeps things varied from level to level. You won’t know the layout of the building beyond how many rooms there are, and you’ll find yourself deciding whether to pick up health and ammo now or leave it until you have to head back. I had a lot of fun playing through the campaign, but it is absolutely not without its flaws.
First, that framerate is pretty poor at times, dropping to around 20fps on a few occasions. Then there’s the lack of enemy variety. The visuals are pretty good for the most part, with a solid cel-shaded art style, but I lost count of the number of times I broke into a room only to be faced by five of the same opponents. Then there are the weapons, of which only a handful are of any use. Powerful pistols and shotguns are great, but most other weapons are near worthless, and you’ll be at the mercy of which random ones are offered to buy between stages. And the bombs! The bombs are infuriating, as there is a set number on each floor of some buildings that must be defused within a time limit — a time limit that starts when you find the first bomb. If you find one in the first room you enter, there’s a damn good chance that you won’t have enough time to find the others, resulting in a very quick game over. There are plenty of other issues I could go into as well.
It does have one feature though, that elevates Rico above so many other FPS games: split screen co-op! This is something that’s missing from so many shooter games these days and automatically makes this game something a little more worthwhile than others.
Honestly though, in spite of the many, many flaws, I had a really good time playing Rico. It’s something that’s so easy to pick up and play for a few minutes as each stage is so short. Sure, you’ll die and start over time and time again, but each time has a fun enough core gameplay loop to make you want to have another turn. I’ve played more of this recently than any of my other go-to comfort games, and I’ll happily play through it again. Then there are daily missions and a survival mode too that earn you points to unlock new weapon skins. It’s a pretty solid package for the price, and if you like Rogue-like games and are in the market for a new FPS one, then Rico is certainly worth a look.
So, what Rogue-like games would be worth looking at in the next couple of weeks? I’ve got a good few lined up, but I’ll gladly take more suggestions!