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Pylon: Rogue (PC) artwork

Pylon: Rogue (PC) review

"Pylon: Rogue isn't a bad hack 'n slash title, but it is definitely a little rough around the edges."

Pylon: Rogue (PC) image

Pylon: Rogue is both a heart-pounding thrill ride and a needlessly frustrating romp. It's the kind of top-down action title that'll knock your teeth in, and you'll either thank it for that or rage quit. I can't absolutely say whether or not I enjoyed it myself, because the game's entertainment value changes depending on your class, your selected weaponry and the hand this roguelite adventure deals you.

I'm going to guess most players will settle on the "beginner" configuration during their initial runs. That logical arrangement hooks you up with a standard knight-type character named Looticus and his trusty sword-and-shield combo. From there, the game either dumps you into a desert or a jungle, both of which feature four sub-levels and a boss encounter. In order to face the boss, you need to complete all four stages. Win that fight and Pylon: Rogue ushers you into another area to start the process anew. Do this three times and you've beaten the game.

It sounds easy, and you'd think after choosing the "beginner" setting that defeating the first boss would be no biggie. Then you enter the first room and watch as swift zombies, massive flies and beetles the size of sheep crowd you. If you were unlucky enough to begin in the jungle, then replace those beasts with Velociraptors, fireball-shooting birds and anthropomorphic Pteranodons that pummel you with magical pillars of light. In either case, be ready for a brawl. You hack away at the forces of evil, paying no heed to your health and maybe blocking occasionally. Your hit points slowly fade, but you persevere and win the match.

Pylon: Rogue (PC) image

I'm also going to guess you did little to mitigate the damage you took in the first stage, when doing so is paramount. Pylon: Rogue sees a lot of comparisons to Diablo, but the truth is the two games are only mechanically similar. Where Diablo showers you in potions and features numerous rejuvenating shrines and fonts, Pylon: Rogue only infrequently tosses you restorative power ups. Ignoring the basics of self-preservation, which comes as a result of inexperience, will get you killed by the second or third room.

You respawn, you try again, you perish, you return to square one many times over. You struggle until you learn the only way to survive while using the short-ranged warriors (which also includes a golem named Rokk) is through proper timing. Whenever your foes approach or strike, you can cancel the damage by holding the Block button. The only snag is that defending bears a time limit, and then you're vulnerable again. With practice, you learn to time your cleaves and blocks well enough to finish the entire level and earn money and loot. The latter of those two provides you with either replacement armor or weapons or an accessory that grants you passive bonuses. For instance, you might gain a ten percent increase to your critical damage, or acquire shoes that leave an enemy-slowing trail of slime wherever you walk. The bottom line is that loot is helpful and necessary for victory.

You fight, you succeed, you advance, you falter, you fail, you die, you lose everything, you take it all from the top.

Pylon: Rogue is uncompromising. Later stages inundate you with so many powerful creatures that defending with short-range characters is all but useless. Eventually, you have to lower your shield, but the onslaught doesn't let up for even a second. You might be able to stymie some enemy strikes, but injury becomes inevitable. Worse than that, there are moments where pieces of the environment obstruct your view, preventing you from properly timing your guard ability. The experience grows so frustrating and borderline unfair that it becomes wearisome.

Pylon: Rogue (PC) image

If you don't like Looticus' sword and shield, your alternatives consist of either picking Rokk or equipping Looticus with dual shields. However, either case leaves you with clumsy dash maneuvers rather than standard defensive capabilities. Granted, these moves are helpful for escaping tight throngs, but Pylon: Rogue's combat forces you to rely on evasive maneuvers so much that you end up dancing all over the battlefield, rather than slicing the opposition.

Thankfully, there's one final recourse: Ms. Underhood, the ranger. Underhood carries a bow with infinite arrows, can fire multiple missiles simultaneously via charged shot and utilizes a backflip to avoid harm. Unlike her cohorts, Underhood's dodge technique is smooth, allowing her to travel quickly all over the arena. Because of this, you can easily control the horde by leading them to one part of the map, then swiftly flipping your way to the opposite side. Once there, you can unleash a flurry of projectiles on your confused assailants.

Let's face it; loot is what makes Pylon: Rogue's world go 'round. The more loot you secure and the more mayhem you cause, the more entertaining the experience becomes. Underhood possesses a knack for gathering goodies more quickly, which causes them to pop out of ordinary treasure chests more often. Before you know it, she switches bows a couple of times, finds an orange to squirt in her targets' eyes and obtains a relic that lets her randomly teleport in lieu of receiving damage.

Pylon: Rogue (PC) image

However, Underhood's talent for plundering doesn't diminish Pylon: Rogue's repetitive nature, nor its frustration factor. You still die often, and death is still permanent. Though the game is enjoyable in spurts, it's not the type of title that warrants a full-blown project. Modern roguelike and roguelite titles work around this issue by offering you tantalizing unlockables and permanent bonuses. Sadly, Pylon: Rogue's unlockable content mostly consists of new pieces of loot. They're neat rewards, to be sure, but they don't motivate you to keep pumping countless hours into the game.

Pylon: Rogue will draw a wide range of responses from players. Some will delight in its bone-crunching difficulty, while others will forego the experience entirely because it's not their thing. Still, there will be folks like myself, who manage to squeeze a little fun out of the experience despite holding some serious gripes. Pylon: Rogue isn't a bad hack 'n slash title, but it is definitely a little rough around the edges.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (September 29, 2017)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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