Full Mojo Rampage is difficult to describe. It’s a rogue-like dungeon crawler, it’s a twin-stick shooter and it’s also an RPG. All of these things are wrapped in a charming Day of the Dead art style that belies the frustration to come for players who aren’t accustomed to the rogue-like genre. There is also the option to go online and play with friends or strangers in various game types like co-op, capture the flag and deathmatches.*
The story is basic, players take on the role of a voodoo apprentice and are sent on various quests by Loas, or voodoo gods. There are a total of four quests to complete and would feel short in most games, which is where the rogue-like part of the game comes into play.
Death during a quest means going right back to beginning and losing any items or equipment picked up, stretching a 40-50 minute endeavor into something much longer. It feels incredibly punishing because the equipment (Mojos) and items influence a player’s success more than leveling up the character does. Being mowed down within a minute of walking into a dungeon just because of a lack of equipment or items happened far too often. There are Pins that you can choose from to add health, strength or speed to your character but feel like a drop in the bucket compared to the challenge presented.
It’s a shame because the Mojos available to players hinted towards customization to get the most of whatever playing style someone enjoys. It could’ve meant that players could strategize and key in on whatever made the game the most fun for them. Instead it feels like a lost opportunity.
The randomly generated levels are a double-edged sword. Players aren’t able to learn a level and use that knowledge as a means of progressing. It’s a necessary mechanic, though, as the constant deaths would be less palatable if it meant having to trudge through the same level again and again and again.
Dungeons come in various sizes and types, and they all have their hidden areas that can be explored. This is where the rogue-like aspect strikes again. Instead of having exploration as a reward for players who choose to go out of their way to do so, it feels like a task that needs to be completed in order to attain the ever valuable goods that will lead to success.
The aesthetic of the game does much to lessen the blow of the harsh gameplay mechanics. It’s not a visual tour de force, but it has a lot of character. The Loas all have their own quirks and backstories that drive the minimal story forward, and other gods within the game also have a sense of humor. The music is likewise cheery with just a bit of menace thrown into the mix. Having a more diverse set of tracks would’ve been appreciated, though.
Full Mojo Rampage has a lot of interesting elements as a game, but fell on the wrong side of frustrating to really let those elements shine. Fans of the rogue-like genre will likely find plenty to like here, but everyone else should wait for a sale before checking it out.
*Unfortunately we were unable to get a sense of online multiplayer, as attempts to find an online match were unsuccessful.
Note – We were provided a review copy of the game by Nicalis