Rogue Command is a deckbuilding, roguelike RTS that works surprisingly well

Rogue Command Header

I have a strange fondness for the days where you open the cupboards to make tea and realise there’s very little there. You find yourself making pasta – there’s always pasta – but you need to cobble the components together from other things in the dusky twilight of your kitchen’s storage. Tinned soup? That’ll work as pasta sauce. How about some dried sultanas? Well, they work in a curry so why not here? Extra points go for the addition of spam or wafer thin ham meant for sandwiches.

Rogue Command takes a similar approach to the RTS, the PC genre equivalent of pasta. Bereft of the regular ingredients that go alongside it, developer feneq has taken the RTS and encased it in a deckbuilder, while also sprinkling in a soupçon of roguelike. It sounds like it should taste play terribly, but this is a gaming buffet that already feels like a filling meal.

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Rogue Command wears its futurism on its robotic sleeve, with a low-poly art style and a minimalist synthetic soundtrack that draws you into the audio space-scape via a lounge bar somewhere past Pluto. It’s what I imagine they play in Mos Eisley when the smuggler shootings have died down and the Bantha’s are snoozing outside.

You begin each level with your engineer, a portly robotic minion who loves to build things. Depending on what cards you’ve accrued in your deck, he can set about building a series of structures that will give you a foothold in the polygonal hills. This begins with a Crystal Refinery, the harvester for Rogue Command’s primary commodity. From there things unsurprisingly take a turn towards the militaristic, and you begin to forge an army of robotic underlings with which to dispatch your foes.

So far, so RTS, and at this stage you may begin to wonder whether Rogue Command’s melting pot of ingredients is entirely necessary. It begins to make more sense when you complete the first level and you’re given the choice of three cards to pick from to add to your deck. It makes even more sense when you subsequently earn a choice of upgrades for your existing cards, creating unique versions of that troop type or structure.

Rogue Command Gameplay

Finally, the roguelike element comes into play, with each run offering a different experience through Rogue Command’s procedurally-generated levels. There’s five angular biomes in place, and as your deck expands and you unlock different upgrades you have to exercise tactics that suit your new-found situation.

Thus far, the tactics still revolve around generating as many resources as possible and converting them into a deadly war machine with which to destroy the enemy AI, while it’s trying to do the same thing to you. That classic push and pull of the RTS is currently in place, and the AI can already offer a cunning amount of challenge, but it’s the ability to muck about with troop types, adding in abilities that will hopefully give you a boost on the battlefield, and the random nature of what cards will come your way, that adds some interesting wrinkles to the RTS formula.

I love the audio and visual design of Rogue Command, and although it’s currently in an early form, it does a good job of justifying the different gameplay elements that it’s brought together. This is one mixed up morsel of a game that I’m definitely looking forward to its stint in Early Access. If you want a little taster of what’s to come, a free demo is available right now via Steam.

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Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.