As a male human man, I can attest that moustaches give superpowers. It is the source of my amazing journalism abilities, though not all moustaches were created equal. Some were made to be godly, and that is what Rogue Stache seeks to show us. Set on a mustache-only spaceship invaded by floating eyeballs, WubsGames have shown that they truly understand the modern gamer’s needs.
Jokes aside, this roguelite really caught my attention: it has a striking pixel aesthetic that really comes into its own with the lighting used. The levels are kinda dark, not so much that you can’t see anything in them but enough to allow the player’s torch to cast striking shadows in the background. The music is also really great, but I found it very repetitive quickly and I wish there were a few more songs to loop through for some variation.
I found the gameplay really very satisfying, with enemies exploding into green experience balls and gore when they die and the guns all feeling unique with their own fire patterns and recoil. The recoil is important, as some jumps in the platforming can only really be made by utilising a rocket jump or a clip from the machine gun. Ammo conservation is also incredibly important, because each gun comes with a number of reloads rather than ammo. Fortunately, you have unlimited ammunition for the basic weapon, the pistol.
Rogue Stache gives a number of weapon drops throughout each level so you’ll never be wanting for ammo, although the drop rate can be increased with the use of the hat system. During the game, you can collect golden coins which can be used in a strange hat slot machine accessed from the main menu. The hats can come with up to three random buffs, depending on the number of coins used, and these can be exceptionally useful. I stuck with a pair of goggles that gave me 15% increased damage, two more inventory slots and a guaranteed weapon drop from each wooden crate - I had an extreme excess of weapons to use.
This isn’t the only instance of out-of-game buffs, as with each death the players moustache is leveled depending how far they got in that run. The starting moustache gives you more health with levels, but there are other styles that can change how you play. These moustaches can be bought just before starting a new run using the main currency of the game, which is also used to buy starting weapons. All of the weapons can be bought from the start, although some cost a ridiculous amount.
This makes sense though, since one weapon in particular is even described in-game as “OP”. The Death Ray can one-shot the bosses, which occur every fifth room. As of writing, I’ve seen four bosses, though I’ve never been able to beat all four in one run to see what is past that; Rogue Stache is a crushingly hard game at times, even with the ridiculous weapons and what I refer to as the “Get Out of Gaol Free Button”.
The “Get Out of Gaol Free Button” is the protagonist’s moustache super power: he suddenly has little regard for the actual mechanics of shooting, instead firing significantly faster than is possible with unlimited ammunition. This ability can also be upgraded every five levels earnt in a playthrough, turning enemies into chickens, restoring health or becoming entirely invincible for the duration to name a few. To help balance the game somewhat, you can’t activate this in a boss fight, but as long as you have one of the four explosion based weapons boss fights aren’t all that bad.
My main complaint with Rogue Stache is the lack of control customisation: there’s a dash activated by double pressing a direction and I would much rather have that bound to a dedicated button. I always find double pressing buttons on a keyboard hard to control, and in Rogue Stache I dash all over the place as I constantly change direction. I understand that some people like that style of control, but I’d like the option to change it to holding shift and a direction key for example, just so I can dash when I want to and not into a spike pit accidentally for the hundredth time.
Rogue Stache is really one to watch out for: it’s clear that WubsGames have more to add, and several layers of polish to clean off some of the dirtier edges but this is well worth the money they’re asking for. If you’re in the market for a stylistic and satisfying roguelite, you can’t go wrong with Rogue Stache. With regular updates and a strong and positive presence in the forums, I fully expect this to be a fantastic game when it leaves Early Access.