A brutally difficult but engaging platformer that’s packed with a unique charm.
Platformers are one of the oldest genre of games. Industry titans such as Nintendo immortalized the genre through mascots such as Mario and Kirby, while pushing it forward with each new offering. Games such as Sonic Mania and Super Mario Odyssey have reignited the spark of the genre and titles such as Rumours from Elsewhere by Notte Studio Games have risen from it. Adventurers beware, however, as the Gauntlet of Greed in an unforgiving place.
The main menu of Rumours From Elsewhere greets the player lovingly with “prepare to die” written at the top before hovering over any selections. This isn’t a lie, either, as deadly traps and vicious enemies will stop at nothing to halt your advance. You’re also timed and once the Prince of Persia inspired soundtrack turns grim, your time on the level is short. Thankfully, the platforming is solid and the controls are responsive to make for a smooth gameplay experience. This is all presented in the tutorial, which the game prompts you with immediately when you begin the game. While it’s a good primer, nothing can prepare you for the pace the game expects from you.
First, you must choose your character and pet. While the selection is limited at first, it grows the further you delve into the gauntlet. Each of these characters feels different from one another and while they all may come with a quick dash, they offer varying playstyles that reward skill-based play. Each character has four skills which include a basic attack or combo that you can use to defeat foes and maneuver through each stage. These skills trigger cooldowns when activated similar to an RPG and have different properties. From stunning enemies, to poisoning them, to being able to shift passed them, the combat system in Rumours from Elsewhere is robust with skills that offer many ways to move through each stage.
The cooldown-based combat allows you to easily string together combos with your skills while keeping an element of depth. Blowing all your skills on a big, impressive combo may not be an ideal strategy when surrounded by enemies who can swarm on you. There is also a stamina gauge to consider which, when depleted, will slow your character significantly until they gain it all back. This dash of soulslike style keeps the gameplay fresh and has a great flow when you begin to master it. It also allows each character to feel unique when combined with their own unique aspects.
Each character has a feeling that is as distinct as their design. The visuals of Rumours from Elsewhere are colorful and have a unique flair that pops as you make your way through each stage. Whether it be the rogue-like Bride who focuses on backstabbing and maneuverability or the offense-focused Highwayman, each character brings a unique element to combat in the gauntlet. Each enemy has a simple yet distinctive design, from the wild dogs to cave-dwelling shadow-beasts, that is fully appreciated when they have your back to the wall or you’re hunting them down for their gold. Since the only way through the gauntlet is by unlocking chests with this gold, you’ll find yourself picking your battles and learning boss fights like the back of your hand as you rush through the gauntlet before the timer expires and you’re hunted by a ghostly figure who kills you instantly with one strike. This can lead to moments of frantic platforming to get that last treasure before dashing to the exit in the darkness.
While the visuals are good and the combat is top-notch, Rumours from Elsewhere is not for the leisurely gamer. Each death starts you back at the beginning of the game, no matter where you die or what character you pick. This makes the learning curve absolutely brutal when taking into account the huge amount of enemy types, stage timer, and the random placement of treasures and exits. While you keep materials to craft new weapons and trinkets to help on future runs, there are multiple trees with robust offerings for the different sets of gear and trinkets in the game. While this can make taking another run tempting, you’re never guaranteed to come across a newly-unlocked item in your next run. In addition, each piece of gear you craft could come with stats or traits that negatively affect you. Since each character plays through the same world, it all comes together to create an experience that feels more trial-and-error than it needs to be.
Rumours from Elsewhere is a polarizing experience. It has fantastic fast-paced combat that rewards the player for learning all of the applications of its unique cooldown-based skill system, along with solid visuals and a fun soundtrack. There is also a ton to unlock and a co-op multiplayer mode to round out the gameplay. Unfortunately, it comes with a steep learning curve that demands mastery lest you start the whole game over. Combined with a deceptively shallow and bloated crafting system with negative traits to punish hasty weapon choices and you’ve got a punishing experience fit only for those willing to master it all.
– Tight, cooldown-based combat.
– Solid platforming.
-Tons of unlockables.
– Brutal learning curve.
– Bloated crafting system.
– Shallow Roguelite elements.
3 out of 5.
Review code provided by Notte Studio Games. Rumours from Elsewhere is out now!