At first glance, with the god-awful blocky font and Minecraft-aping ways, Rogue Islands looks like a clone in a long, long line of clones. Yet Rogue Islands is anything but. It's a game which looks like Minecraft but with the difficulty level of Dark Souls, fused with the soul of Spelunky. Rogue Islands is a frenetic first-person shooter action game with procedurally generated levels and a hideously addictive just-one-more-go factor.

Developed by Big Fat Alien and Blue Sock studios and published by Keystone games, Rogue Islands is a magical FPS which uses voxel-based graphics, but with the heavy principles of Rogue lite elements. The entire game serves as a deep reminder to "never judge a book by its cover", a mistake all too easily made by many of us.

The story is about a Gnome druid called Motwart who is on a journey to save the islands from the deep root creatures which have made their demonic invasion on the Islands. The story's not great, but nor is it exactly a selling point for Rogue Islands. It's simply there. Thankfully there's plenty more to adore about Rogue Islands, and the gameplay isn't just the saving grace but also a game-changer.   

The main objective in Rogue Islands is to move from island to island, finding and closing some portals, and then searching for fuel for your boat to get off the island. It sounds simple in theory, yet it's anything but in practice. Strange creatures like skeleton monsters and floating heads fire at the player from afar, while ghouls come out at night. The difficulty of escaping these monsters gets intense when night falls on the Island. As the skies darken, ghosts start hunting the player down en masse, along with a litany of other monsters also. Any thoughts of escape from simply legging it to the portal are swiftly quashed, Rogue Islands layering on several survival elements to liven up proceedings. it quickly becomes apparent that eating various foodstuffs available on the Islands is a necessity to survive, else hunger can quickly lead to the crushing blow of mortality. There is also crafting by which you can craft Nightmares (tokens which act as an extra life, allowing the player to respawn at the start of that particular level) and other stuff necessary for the journey across the different islands.

There are three difficulty settings offered: Explorer, Nightmare, Permadeath. The names alone speak volumes of the predicament you're getting yourself into. Suffice to say of Permadeath mode, crafting Nightmares is a no, no, while Explorer offers for some respite for those who don't want an aneurysm while playing a game.

Depending on the difficulty, Rogue Islands can become insanely challenging.  The Islands are procedurally generated, although it's difficult to tell without close inspection, which is the best compliment that can be given to a procedural environment.

Meanwhile, the audio in Rogue Islands is a bit unexpected. It's loaded with classic 8-bit chiptunes and effects which we all loved to hear back during the 90’s console heydey, coupled along with a resonant soundtrack which pairs tremendously with it. The music, which ordinarily shouldn't go well with this game, yet provides the sensation of being constantly on the move, growing in intensity when enemies approach, escalating as you make your way across the island.

Rogue Islands, even though it looks disarmingly simple at first sight, is a challenging and immensely enjoyable game for those who love to play challenging titles. It’s a simple take on the survival genre mixed with gung-ho FPS action makes it a really unique and memorable experience. I'm a relative newcomer to the rogue-like genre, yet I adored Rogue Islands, poised as it is perfectly between enjoyable and challenging.