Rodent Warriors is an odd game, to tell you the truth. Coming from a small indie studio, it is a roguelike, side-scrolling, retro-looking, combat-heavy game that has a little unique twist in the gameplay. Having been out on Steam since January 2020, it is now available on the Xbox family of consoles, so I guess the question we should be asking is this; should Rodent Warriors have stayed on the PC, or is it an interesting addition to the burgeoning roguelike genre on the Xbox?
The story is, well, present – is about the kindest word I can use for it. The Rodent King has declared war on the rest of the world and we are soldiers on the frontline of this battle. We start out as a lowly mouse, fragile and fast, yet progression through the game gradually unlocks other classes to play as. The mouse is a Scout, and then things advance from there on out; Capybara (Knight), Porcupine (Barbarian), Beaver (Wizard), Rat (Necromancer) and finally Weasel (Swashbuckler). As you would expect, every class has different attacks and abilities, ranging from the Capybara’s charge attack, killing anything he runs into, to the Rat’s ability to raise a skeleton to fight for him.
Each of the characters is charmingly designed, and the attacks are pretty fanciful as well; the whole look of the game works very well indeed. The enemies are a varied bunch too, ranging from cats and racoons (who have the ability to raise their fallen comrades, so killing them first is a good plan) all the way up to ordinary bosses, which are regular enemies with extra abilities, and from there to an epic boss which spawns once per level, when you have completed the objectives for that particular level. These epic bosses are a real challenge when you first start out, and it is very likely that you will die to them multiple times. However, while I’m touching on the presentation of the game, the music and sound effects are all pretty splendid; the pained squeak as you kill enemy rodents and creatures is pleasing enough.
Now, as this is a roguelike, you’d expect that every time you die and respawn, you get a little stronger, right? Well, that’s exactly what happens. You can unlock legacy levels for each character, so that they start each run at level 10, and this is a great boost to your chances of completing a stage. You see, the abilities that you can use are locked away behind a level requirement, and starting at a higher level with some abilities ready to go makes Rodent Warriors a lot easier. The controls are simplicity themselves as well, with the ordinary attack being RT, and then subsequent abilities mapped out to the face buttons and bumpers of the controller.
Each attack you pull off has a cooldown, so using the right attack at the right time is part of the strategy. There is also a crafting interface to get to grips with, where you can turn picked up resources into weapons and armour, there is a screen to spend the PP points you gain for fighting, allowing you to have more health, say, or attack power, and there is also a variety of other screens to interact with. Relics are an interesting item to find, as they allow any benefits to be carried over to the next generation of mouse or whatever. The whole roguelike/RPG bits are in place and working well.
There is a twist to Rodent Warriors, however, and it’s a bit of an odd one. Remember Clicker Heroes – the RPG that could be left to its own devices, and would essentially play itself? Well, Rodent Warriors has taken that idea and ran with it, and you can get the game to play automatically to whatever degree you wish. If you turn everything on, the game will play itself, fighting, crafting and leveling itself up, so all you need to do is watch (or go off and read a book, for instance). You could have Rodent Warriors take care of leveling and crafting, but do the combat yourself, for instance; something that is ever tempting as progression is made. The auto-magic does seem to do a better job of crafting items than I do manually, and obviously as stronger gear means more survivability, it’s a win-win. In another interesting twist, once the auto-play option is unlocked and enabled, Rodent Warriors will also unlock all the achievements for you. That in itself is an intriguing system.
At the end of the day, Rodent Warriors on Xbox is a fun game; one that is perfect for a quick blast. Picking up the controller, blasting through a level and then resetting the character is a perfect short term option. If you don’t have much time, then getting the game to play itself will allow you to get up to the much-needed higher levels and gear, but how that mechanic will sit is a very personal one. Rodent Warriors is pretty good fun, whether you fight or not!