One of the last PlayStation Vita games to ever be released, ScourgeBringer has finally made the jump to the PlayStation platformer after its initial launch on PCs. It’s out on PlayStation 4 as well and fully compatible with the PS5, so PlayStation fans everywhere can now enjoy this roguelike indie gem.
And sure, Sony may have announced that they’re keeping the storefronts open for the Vita and PS3, but that doesn’t mean the process for submitting new games is going to stick around, making this release from Flying Oak Games a bit of a ‘last hoorah’ for the handheld – which luckily is going out on a high with ScourgeBringer, which was developed by the team behind NeuroVoider, another indie title worth exploring.
The ScourgeBringer is, as the name suggests, an entity that’s seemingly hell-bent on bringing destruction and doom upon the world. Manifesting as danger-filled buildings, you enter the ScourgeBringer as a kind of last hope for humanity. As Kyhra, you engage in action platforming inside these dreadful machines, and find out more about the backstory by bumping into written logs along the way.
Aided by a drone called BLAST.32, you use a sword for your main attack mode in procedurally generated sections of levels that ultimately lead to Guardians (mid-level bosses) and Judges (end-level bosses). You can also use dash attacks, which can be combined with your jumps and sword attacks. Later on, you’ll also unlock more abilities and additional attacks called “fury attacks”, but the action is fast and frantic right from the start – gradually building on solid foundations that are laid out through excellent controls. On the Vita, these controls even use the rear touch pad – I couldn’t even remember the last game that did! Great to see a title that brings us back to a time where the Vita’s controls were novel and innovative, and letting us experience that once more.
But although the game has options to make it easier, ScourgeBringer is – even for a roguelite – challenging. Being on the offensive is the way to go, and the game offers little in the way of hiding and thinking about your next move. As a result, you’ll dive into the game’s roguelite aspects before you know it – symbolized by a tree which lets you apply (permanent) upgrades by donating the blood you picked up during your last run. The (chiming) tree also lets you access logs of whatever you’ve run into so far and lets you talk to characters not out to destroy you, so it’s a nice break ahead of the next run. The difficulty level is spot-on as well, and kept me wanting to push forward to try and make it past the next boss or to the point where I uncovered more of the (back)story.
Although ScourgeBringer doesn’t use the top-down perspective that NeuroVoider did and switches to a traditional 2D platformer look instead, the style of its attractive pixel art graphics does look familiar. The game looks great on the PS4 as well as the Vita, but while NeuroVoider was always a smooth experience ScourgeBringer does struggle to keep up a bit when scenes get especially busy on the handheld.
It’s definitely not a dealbreaker though, and ScourgeBringer happily sits alongside games like Rogue Legacy and Spelunky as some of my favorite Vita games in the roguelite genre now. It’s a lot of fun on the PS4 as well and the DualShock controls feel a bit more responsive than the Vita controls (mostly due to their size), but this is one we’ll mostly remember as that great little port we got at the end of the Vita’s lifecycle.