The Serpent Rogue, developed by Sengi Games and published by Team17, is an interesting blend of survival, crafting and action adventure set against a medieval fantasy backdrop. It’s out for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch and PC – we checked out the PS5 version.
At the start of the game, you’ll select your warden character, who looks a bit like a medieval plague doctor but has magical powers thanks to the power alchemy. Besides conjuring up useful items and weapons, this also means you can shapeshift into a variety of animals. Your goal? To defeat the evil that’s spreading by way of the titular Serpent Rogue, often referred to as “the corruption” in the game.
Crafting is a huge part of the experience in The Serpent Rogue, but doing so feels rather experimental at time, as recipes that will successfully make things for you aren’t very abundant. You might get lucky with a combination if you experiment, but chances are that you’ll get frustrated with the system as well – unless you’re not on your first playthrough or using a guide, which is a bit of a shame as it takes away from that initial experience somewhat. If you love crafting and experimenting, however, then this’ll be perfect for you.
As you’d expect, resource management is also important in a game like this, and in roguelike fashion you’ll lose everything you were carrying when you die – with one chance to recover it all if you manage to make it back to where you fell before you die again. If you fell in combat in an area swarming with enemies, that might be a tall order. Special chests that you find in towns can help in this regard, as whatever you store in there is safe and can be accessed from similar chests in other towns as well.
Your relationship with the environment around you goes beyond just finding resources and crafting – you can even try to tame some of the wild animals and have them join your side. This can make all the difference in a battle, or give you just enough time to get away from one before getting overwhelmed. They’ll stick around until they get killed in combat, and are useful allies in a dark and hostile world.
That world is visually presented with a cell-shaded like style, though it’s not as detailed as a the style in a game like Borderlands 3 or Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, which made us wonder why The Serpent Rogue isn’t available for last-gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles. With the game being available on the Switch, it seems unfortunate that the player base is limited to next/current gen only on other platforms. From an artistic point of view this game looks excellent though, and some of the visual effects are striking in how they paint a world where ‘corruption’ is trying to take hold.
With a challenging level of difficulty and the chance that crafting might frustrate players, The Serpent Rogue isn’t for everyone. Its world and story are excellent backdrops for an engaging action adventure though, and with a ten hour campaign there’s a good amount of content here.