ReviewsReview: Despot's Game

Review: Despot’s Game

-

- Advertisement -

The rogue-lite/like genre is a cruel bastard. It’ll suck you in, chew you up, and spit you out. However, this brutality makes it moreish and inspires hardcore gamers to keep going. But what would happen if you crossed the harshness of Smash TV with a seamlessly never-ending labyrinth of doom? You’d get Despot’s Game, that’s what!

Developed by Konfa Games and published by tinyBuild, this is a tough rogue-lite adventure title. Furthermore, there are distinct RNG elements that make the action infuriating. As such, this is your standard rogue-lite game, but it’s on steroids. All the brutality and unfair mechanics are jacked up, and failure, disappointment and rage quitting are guaranteed.

The planning stage of Despot's Game is key.
Plan ahead and win every battle, hopefully.

Despot’s Game is simple cruel. 

Unlike other rogue-lite titles, Despot’s Game doesn’t rely on button mashing or platforming elements. No, instead it has some minor tactical and strategy points, a heavy reliance on luck, and oodles of arena-based combat. What’s more, it can be “enjoyed” solo or online against other insane players. Mostly, it retains its core beliefs, but the online mode is much more refined. Subsequently, it is easier to understand, but somehow, it is much crueller. 

The story focuses on an evil being who takes pleasure from mankind’s downfall. He asks you to command an army of people as you tackle his deadly labyrinthine world. As you try to complete each level, you must purchase new people, buy new weapons, upgrade each shop, and set the formation of your merry band. Moreover, you’ll encounter waves of monsters, special rooms, and boss battles. If you succeed, you’ll become stronger, but so will your foes. If you fail, it is game over, but you retain key items from that run. Accordingly, the next playthrough is easier if you have the patience to see it through.

The mutations are game-changing.
Make the most of your mutations.

You are the general, but luck may not be on your side. 

As RNG is a key component, victory is always in the lap of the gods. As such, you can be tactically perfect, and still fail. Now, this may not sound appealing, but I loved its unfair nature. As the general of this makeshift army, you are responsible for many things. You must decide the formation, which weapons to use, and when to implement potions and healing items. Furthermore, you need to maintain food, and potentially sacrifice your men. Yes, you read that right, cannibalism is a thing in Despot’s Game. After all, hungry troops are useless troops, and no one really cares about a newbie.

Once you’re happy with your setup, you move to a new arena. Here, you must sit back and watch the battle unfold. As I said, Despot’s Game is unlike other rogue-lite titles. Instead of full control over each encounter, the action is automated. Accordingly, once a fight begins, there are only two outcomes: success or failure. However, things are rarely this simple, and the developers have brilliantly mixed things up.

With the inclusion of mutations and the use of potions, you can make your own luck. You’ll be able to bring people back from the dead, heal your troops, make your people stronger, and so forth. Whatever you choose will impact your chances, so you must pick wisely. 

Despot’s Game is distinctly old-school. 

One of my favourite things about Despot’s Game is its old-school appearance. I loved Smash TV, and this looks very similar. Now, it isn’t as gory, but this matters not. Instead, the claustrophobic arenas, the refined sprites, and the excellent UI make it great to play. Moreover, the stark contrast of colours makes it striking and easy to look at. On top of this, the automation of each battle makes this horrifically voyeuristic, and this was weirdly enjoyable.

Alongside this, the strangely chilled-out music and simple sound effects juxtapose the combat madness. With eerie tones, and crunching combat, you’ll wince and frown as your band of men and women is smashed to pieces. Furthermore, the gentle pace of the music creates an oddly laid-back experience that doesn’t match the action. However, this mattered not, as I enjoyed it, nonetheless.

Despot's Game has some very weird NPCs
Oh wow, that creature is ugly.

Confusion.

Though a fairly in-depth tutorial talks you through the fundamentals, I was still confused. Consequently, my opening gambit was short-lived and frustrating. Yet, once I got to grips with the finer details, I loved the simplicity of the UI and the easy-to-manage tactics. As such, with a little practice and trial and error, you’ll overcome minor hurdles and you’ll experience an intuitive and responsive game.

Further to this, no matter how much you play it, there is always a twist in the action. Different formations and weapons result in unique results, and the mutations add a little spice. On top of this, the King of the Hill mode is challenging and brutal. Talking of challenges, there is a range of additional tasks that can be purchased separately. These hardcore objectives will test your resolve and add to the already moreish gameplay.

Despot’s Game is a fantastic pixelated rogue-lite. 

The Game Pass service is expanding at an exponential rate. Consequently, it is hard to keep up and choosing the right title can be tough. Luckily, though, Despot’s Game is quick to pick up and unbelievably addictive. As such, this is an excellent indie title that is surprisingly in-depth and interesting. Moreover, if you then consider the fantastic multiplayer action and the challenge mode, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Therefore, I can easily recommend that you buy it here! Can you build an army and escape the labyrinthine world? Purchase humans, buy guns, and battle waves of foes. 

SUMMARY

Despot's Game is a cruel rogue-lite set in a dystopian world. Search the labyrinthine world as you appease a sick voyeuristic monster. Command your army, set their formation, and watch each automated encounter. It is brutal, unfair, and guaranteed to make you scream.


+ Excellent old-school graphics.
+ Chilled-out but atmospheric music.
+ A tough but enjoyable concept.
+ Moreish.
+ Available on Game Pass.

- The RNG elements are occasionally too much.

(Rating: PEGI 16 Strong Violence, In-Game Purchases Release date: 29/09/2022 Price: £16.74 or free on Game Pass)


(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5)


Daniel Waite
Daniel Waite
My gaming career started on an Amiga and spans many consoles! Currently, I game using an MSI laptop and Xbox Series X. A fan of every genre, I love to give anything a go. Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I'm loving my new home here at Movies Games and Tech. I can be contacted for gaming reviews on the following email: Daniel@moviesgamesandtech.com

Stay connected

7,137FansLike
9,197FollowersFollow
27,500SubscribersSubscribe

LATEST REVIEWS

Review: Garfield Lasagna Party

https://youtu.be/cNkNnvl6xx8 Growing up, I loved Garfield. This grumpy yet loveable ginger puss made me chuckle repeatedly. Whether it was a comic strip, annual, cartoon, or film, I...

Review: Apico

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you

<p class="has-text-align-justify" style="font-size:14px"><em>Despot's Game</em> is a cruel rogue-lite set in a dystopian world. Search the labyrinthine world as you appease a sick voyeuristic monster. Command your army, set their formation, and watch each automated encounter. It is brutal, unfair, and guaranteed to make you scream. </p><br/> + Excellent old-school graphics. <br/> + Chilled-out but atmospheric music. <br/> + A tough but enjoyable concept. <br/> + Moreish. <br/> + Available on <b>Game Pass</b>. <br/> <br/> - The RNG elements are occasionally too much. <br/> <br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(<b>Rating:</b> PEGI 16 Strong Violence, In-Game Purchases <b>Release date:</b> 29/09/2022 <b>Price:</b> £16.74 or free on <b>Game Pass</b>) </p><br/> <p class="has-text-align-center" style="font-size:10px">(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on Xbox One, PC (Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5) </p><br/>Review: Despot's Game