Risk of Rain 2 by Hopoo Games
Making a sequel to a beloved game is never easy, and that goes double for one that transitions a franchise from 2D to 3D. There’s always the possibility of something special about the original getting lost in the new dimension.
This doesn’t even just apply to indie games either; plenty has been written about the difficult times faced by massive franchises like Mario and Metroid when making the jump.
Suffice it to say, it was a big risk (heh) for Hopoo Games to make the sequel to their critical hit, 2013’s side-scrolling action Rogue-like Risk of Rain, into a sprawling 3D action game. Fortunately, thanks to a lengthy Early Access period and constant refinements, their gamble paid off in spades.
Calling the Rain
Risk of Rain 2 has you controlling a soldier sent from an orbiting spaceship down to a hostile planet. The goals are simple: shoot anything that moves, use their resources to power yourself up, advance to new areas, and, hopefully, make it out alive.
Like many other Rogue-likes, the level layouts are consistent each game, but what you find within them is anything but. Power-ups, permanent unlocks, bosses, etc. are all randomized, meaning you’re never quite sure what you’ll find each time you drop.
Not only that, but you’re also racing against time. Instead of a set time limit, as you fight your way through each area, a difficulty meter slowly fills up. The higher it goes, the stronger the creatures you fight become. It’s a risk-reward system that constantly has you thinking about how badly you want to scavenge for items, and it keeps the pace flowing nicely.
The real fun of Risk of Rain 2’s gameplay comes in the form of the different survivors you unlock for future runs. You start with only the Commando, whose twin machine pistols and dodge rolls do a great job of easing you into the game.
From there, you’ll gradually find plenty of weird and wonderful characters to play as. The Huntress is fast and has enemy-tracking attacks, the Loader can swing around like Spider-Man, and Rex the living plant uses its own health to power deadly attacks, just to name a few.
These characters are all fun to play in their own right and require you to change up your play-style considerably. They also complement each other well in multi-player, which is where the game truly shines.
Finding each survivor will take you a while, and even after that, they each have variations on their abilities for you to unlock as well. There’s more than enough here to keep you and your friends coming back for hours.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Risk of Rain 2’s gorgeous presentation, too. The cel-shaded graphics and vivid colors do a great job of making the game pop even when not much is happening, and the enemy designs are creative and unique.
Chris Christodoulou’s soundtrack is also fantastic, blending classic sci-fi synths and heavy guitars in a way that fits the action perfectly.
My only real gripe is that the levels can end up feeling a bit empty when playing as some of the slower characters, but this is a nit-pick at worst, especially when you stop to appreciate the sheer scale of everything.
Difficulty is part and parcel of the Rogue-like package, and while Risk of Rain 2 is mostly solid in this category, there are some hiccups.
Some enemies and bosses (especially the final one) feel like a significant difficulty spike compared to the rest of the game, and it sucks to feel like you lost a run to bad luck or an imbalanced encounter.
Higher difficulties also make learning how each item works and which to give to which survivors essential (pro tip: the Bustling Fungus also applies to the Engineer’s turrets, thank me later).
This isn’t inherently negative (especially if you consult the in-game logbook for help), but it means that in multi-player, a greedy player who scoops up everything they see can doom your entire group.
In the Rainy Season
Ultimately, difficulty nitpicks aside, Risk of Rain 2 is some of the most fun I’ve had with a game all year, both solo and with friends. It’s also currently up there with Dead Cells as one of my favorite Rogue-likes ever.
If you’re put off by a combination of third-person shooting and Rogue-like, then it won’t be for you, but otherwise, this is very easy to recommend to just about anybody. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s some aliens I need to introduce to the Loader’s fists…
Risk of Rain 2 is available via the Nintendo Game Store, PlayStation Store, Xbox Live and Steam.
Watch the official trailer for Risk of Rain 2 below: