DEMO REVIEW: ‘ScourgeBringer’ Is Fun But Doesn’t Do Enough To Set Itself Apart (Xbox One)

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Xbox’s Summer Game Fest has been well underway and one of the titles coming soon to Xbox One is the brutally challenging cyberpunk rogue-like ScourgeBringer. It is has been touted as “Dead Cells meets Celeste” by developer Flying Oaks Games and this is an apt description even if this brief demo never truly reaches the heights of those highly acclaimed titles.

If you’ve ever played a rogue-like then you’ll be immediately familiar with the setup here. You’ll go room to room clearing out enemies until you inevitably die. And you will die a lot because this game revels in its difficulty, but never to the point where it becomes frustrating or unfair where you want to rage quit. As with other rogue-likes, death isn’t the end of your journey. You’ll respawn in front of a literal skill tree where you can purchase upgrades for health, combos, and general power-ups for your basic slash and pistols attacks. The genre builds itself on the concept of trial and error, so, a death is just a chance to power up and give it another go. And progression is paced very well so it won’t be long until you’re a bit stronger than your last run and ready to take it on one more time.

ScourgeBringer plays like an amalgam of other 2D action-platformers. The traversal and platforming is most reminiscent of Celeste as you’ll jump from walls and double-jump to navigate the world while also mixing it in with combat. There isn’t as much platforming in that game’s style though since there is less of an influence avoiding environmental hazards and more so on clearing out rooms full of enemies so you can move on to the next room.

The combat owes a lot to titles like Dead Cells and Blasphemous but with much more vertical movement thrown into the mix. You’ll slash your way through enemies and large area bosses with some assistance from your handgun that regenerates ammo as you deal sword damage. Movement is key here because if you stay still for too long, it won’t be long until all of your opposition converge on your position so you’re going to have to jump, dash, and slash to avoid getting completely overwhelmed.

ScourgeBringer Skill Tree

I’m always a fan of vibrant pixel graphics and the visuals in ScourgeBringer are a sight to behold. Everything is incredibly stylized with a very cyberpunk vibe running through it. The particle effects from attacks and projectiles are beautiful as are all of the animations for every asset on screen. It’s clear that a lot of care was put into the art style and it’s where the game stands out most prominently.

All of the comparisons that have been made towards ScourgeBringer may have been a disservice because it becomes hard to remove that from your frame of mind when playing through it. While it does do a lot of things very well, it doesn’t do any of them remarkably different from those other titles that have been touted by the team as it’s closest influences. The game is still in early access and could still evolve and will need to if it hopes to truly set itself apart from its counterparts.

ScourgeBringer is currently available in early access via Xbox Game Pass for PC with console versions for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch releasing later this year.