Leap of Fate (PC, 2016)

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth reigns as one of my favorite games of all time. Its predecessor, and games like FTL, made me a fan of roguelikes for life. While I do not seek out roguelikes all the time, I always have an eye open for new ones to try. After hearing about Leap of Fate, I had to try it, and I am so glad I did.

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Leap of Fate is action-oriented roguelike. The setting is similar to Shadowrun in that it combines fantasy, technology, and horror. More importantly, it strikes a great balance between intense bursts of action and resource management.

Resource management is one of my favorite aspects of roguelikes. Without proper management, you often miss loot (wasting keys), cannot purchase anything (no money for cash shops), or you lack the added firepower for boss encounters (special abilities). Managing what have can often make or break a run assuming the gameplay does not break you first.

Leap of Fate has all of these things. It also has an interesting card aesthetic. Rather than rooms in the traditional sense, each area is a different card. It works especially well and eliminates one of my biggest issues with dungeon-oriented roguelikes: backtracking.

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The gameplay is action-based. Each character you unlock has a different style of attack. The game played great with an Xbox One controller. It is more or less a top-down twin stick-style shooter. Every character also starts with a movement power and a special activated ability.

Unlike a game like Binding of Isaac which has you finding items with passive stat boosts, Leap of Fate relies on a randomized series of talent trees which are upgraded over the course of a game using the same resource that is spent in the shop. Though the talents never change (only their order does), I liked that the system maintained a sense of both variety and accessibility. Variety in that every playthrough will feel different. Accessibility in that everything that can be unlocked is right there in front of you.

One more mechanic worth mentioning: Leap of Fate features a secondary currency that is not lost on death. While the game is a roguelike and death does mean game over, start again, this added currency gives players a reward for repeat failures or repeat successes. The item shop typically sells at least one item for this special currency, which is great when you have not earned enough of the other stuff. Furthermore, it can be used to continue the game, but only once per run. It certainly makes Leap of Fate a much friendlier experience.

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Beyond the gameplay, Leap of Fate is ugly, the story did not peak my interest, and I ignored the music.

I bought Leap of Fate on a whim after reading about it. 2016 is still young, but this is definitely one of my top picks for the year. It is a well-done little roguelike that does not rely on obtusion or difficulty to confound players and inflate playtime. It is a great game for anyone looking to try a roguelike for the first time. I found it rewarding enough to unlock everything for each character in Normal Mode and I am still working on Hard Mode unlocks (the latter has been pretty challenging thus far).

If you want an action RPG that is pick up and play friendly or you want a more casual roguelike, Leap of Fate is hardly a leap of fate. It is guaranteed fun.

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