App of the Day: 100 Rogues

69-er.

Version tested iPhone

Some games you love and some you hate, but 100 Rogues isn't nearly so simple. It is an outstanding roguelike, and even two years since release is easily one of the best-looking and most surprising on iOS.

It has also, in those two years, swung from incredibly buggy builds to smooth ones and back again, with seemingly every update introducing new problems to go with its fixes. It has added tremendous amounts of new content, almost entirely in the form of in-app purchases. I grind my teeth in frustration, and not always the good kind, but can never stop playing it.

The two rogues you get with the game are very different types of dungeon explorer. The Crusader is a superbly designed knight class that's all about melee attacks and levelling into a brute that can destroy clumped enemies and heal himself back up. The Fairy's more indirect, relying on summoning temporary allies and confusing the hordes into attacking each other, all the while buffing herself and taking care of stragglers.

3

Every four levels of 100 Rogues there's a boss, and the Pope with his Unbreakable Pope Shield is a bit of a sod.

Your goal? KILL SATAN. 100 Rogues moves from early cave-like environments with bandits and bats to deeper dungeons that are filled with terrifying and weird enemies - poisonous, flying babies, hulking suits of armour that deal terrible damage, and necromancers that summon endless numbers of skeletons. If you survive all this, the last stretch of levels before Satan becomes even nastier, with one especially nasty enemy inspired by the Matrix - agents that fire low-damage machineguns that hit multiple times and call in a new agent at the end of every turn. Their numbers basically double with every step you take, Mr Anderson.

But it's the way the levelling curve makes your rogue hardier, and lets you choose custom skills, that gives 100 Rogues its magic touch. If you find a massive axe early on, for example, you can make the Crusader into a heavy-armament-wielding tank, capable of smashing through even the toughest enemies almost instantly but vulnerable to debuffs and crowds in the open. Hit the magic route and you'll have exactly the tools to waltz into a large group and take them out with AOE, gracefully dodging their attacks by activating the Martyr ability.

The purchaseable characters make things even better - the Skellyman is all about backstabs and hop-scotching around enemy groups without taking damage, while the Dinoman Bruiser can charge through their packed ranks and cause mayhem.

But for me those have been 69p at considerable intervals for a game I adore - new players face paying 1.99 for the app, 1.38 just to complete the rogues roster, and then have the option of purchasing extra monsters to play as (one is free, and five are 69p each). There's no option to, say, just purchase a complete edition. That's a considerable ask, and makes an otherwise essential roguelike seem miserly - particularly considering the fact it's been so buggy in the past, and we're talking game-ruining bugs.

But 100 Rogues recently received its very final update. This added the Dinoman, and unfortunately also made it crash at startup. That was patched, and then the Dinoman couldn't be purchased. Thankfully, everything's now fixed, and to be fair I haven't seen a single bug since, in multiple playthroughs. It's taken a while to get here, but 100 Rogues is finally finished. You wish it were a more generous game, but it is what it is - a superb dungeon crawler that's definitely worth 1.99, that wants you to pay more before it gives more. For me, it's worth every penny.

App of the Day highlights interesting games we're playing on the Android, iPad, iPhone and Windows Phone 7 mobile platforms, including post-release updates. If you want to see a particular app featured, drop us a line or suggest it in the comments.

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