There are a lot of games out there that need to be played, and too many of those games are hidden away beneath the tide of AAA tripe that we were burdened with last year. Whether it be undelivered promises, bugs, glitches, pain-in-the-backside DRM, or micro-transactions, 2014 was a bit of a letdown to many. One of the many games which might have slipped under peoples radar is Sproggiwood.
Sproggiwood is a charming little title from indie developer Freehold Games and is essentially a Rogue-like inspired by Finnish mythology, and covered in an adorably huggable aesthetic that is kind of cardboard-y, kind of cushion-y and undeniably cute. Don’t let those cutesy visuals fool you though, beneath their soft exterior is a challenging game worthy of its genres lineage. You go from level to level as a Cloghead (basically a human with a strangely oblongular cranial structure) of your chosen class (of which there are 6) collecting loot, gaining experience, learning new skills and eventually slaying a boss after a couple of floors. If you survive the trials set before you, you are awarded with money, loot, another dungeon and a small story segment to keep things going. Whilst death is not permanent, you do have to restart the dungeon from scratch, and whilst in the early missions you are not likely to die too much, the game does ramp up and forces you to use your noggin if you want to survive.
Unlike most Rogue-likes, Sproggiwood actually has a plot, and whilst pretty simplistic, it is fairly amusing and is interesting filler in-between your dungeon delving. Unfortunately, the game is pretty linear, with each dungeon being laid before you in on a singular path, with no side quests to speak of. You can go back into old dungeons with new classes to gain more gold and stars, and eventually complete the dungeon 100%, and whilst this is a challenge, it does eventually boil down to backtracking.
Between dungeons you do have a few things to do should you wish too. You have control over a small hamlet, that grows with time and is essentially a large shop/storage area. Here you can buy weapons, armour, consumables and accessories in addition to town upgrades. These range from increasing every heroes health, to making the store cheaper to adding additional loot to dungeons. It gives you a reason to spend your hard earned gold, and to replay dungeons a few times to maximise your profits. You can even customise the look of your village by adding decorations, moving buildings etc. which is a nice little touch that helps break up the dungeoneering just enough to keep the game feeling fresh.
Sproggiwood is by no means a perfect game, and as a Rogue-like, it is not the most difficult of experiences. But it makes up for it with charm, humour and all-round solid gameplay. You can complete Sproggiwood in about 10-15 hours, and it is pretty much the perfect introduction to the genre, and a light hearted distraction for veterans.