A LITTLE over two years ago I played a demo for a little indie game called Rooftop Renegade. I did it on stream and even got to talk to Alex Ferrabetta, Environment Artist & UI/UX Designer for Adelaide developers Melonhead Games. Even back then the gameplay was fun and well rounded, so I was excited when I heard that Rooftop Renegade had received a release date.
Starting as a product of Global Game Jam in 2018, Melonhead Games have been recipients of the Epic Mega Grant and the South Australian Film Corporation Games Innovation Fund 2019. With multiple award nominations and wins, including PAX Aus 2022 Indie Showcase winner, Rooftop Renegade is shaping up to be a wonderful indie title.
The concept of the game is Big Evil CorporationTM Globacorp is doing bad things and our heroine Svetlana is trying to escape them. She races through stages using kicks with different abilities to outrun the Globacorp van. In her way are obstacles such as laser barriers to slow her down but there are also boosts like blue grind rails that increase speed to help.
Some stages have Globacorp goons following you and shooting at the environment. If hit, blue grind rails no longer give boosts. Parts of the stage are destructible and will explode if shot, leaving a hole that Svetlana can fall through.
Travelator-style platforms can also be shot and change direction, impeding our heroine further. Players will occasionally find pink grind rails that, when grinded upon, will temporarily disable the goons.
As stages are completed Svetlana levels up, unlocking more stages and extra kicks. The starting kicks contain a single ability: boost, which gives a short burst of speed.
There are three other abilities: Launch provides a mid-air jump, blink breaks through obstacles, and phase lets players simply pass through said obstacles. With eight kicks in total, all with a combination of those abilities and modifiers that decrease their recharge time, there’s some flexibility in choosing the kicks that suit the player.
There are reasons to revisit stages thanks to the ranking and levelling systems. Sets of stages are unlocked as players level up and just rushing through isn’t enough to unlock the next set. Going back to previous stages is a must to progress to new ones, but the inclusion of a ghost makes this experience less tedious than it could be. Whenever I saw the ghost of my best run I was pushed to get in front of them.
Rooftop Renegade looks stunning. There are three different stage backdrops; my personal favourite is the clouds where the brightness contrasts to the cyberpunk city or barren moon.
The levels still look amazing, it’s just that the cloud stages stood out to me. And the music fits so well with the game’s style.
The synth-heavy score gels incredibly well with neon-against-dark backdrops, or the fluorescent colours in the clouds – It’s no wonder the soundtrack is being released on Steam as well as music streaming platforms.
Along with the Arcade Mode, there are two additional modes: Generator Mode and Party Mode. Generator Mode randomly generates a level that can be shared with friends through a seed code and Party Mode is the multiplayer mode of the game.
One player takes control of Svetlana running through a level while up to three others take on the role of one of Globacorp’s goons; they shoot the environment to slow Svetlana down enough for the Globacorp van to catch her.
Party Mode is for local multiplayer only and unfortunately I was unable to try it out, but given how chaotic some of the single player stages got with the AI goons, I can only imagine how fun Rooftop Renegade would be on the couch with mates.
I had a lot of fun with Rooftop Renegade but there was a small thing that I think can be improved. When completing the 24 single player levels I mostly got A ranks with a handful of Ss and a couple of Bs, so I was doing reasonably well.
By the time I’d run through the last stage I was at level six. That meant a decent amount of grinding to unlock the last two kicks at level seven and eight. Generator Mode adds some variety to the stages but doesn’t increase your level. I found that I was pacing my own ghost, not improving my time on stages just so I could unlock kicks (and stages early on).
In The End
As a whole Rooftop Renegade is very fun. I found myself searching for the perfect route through stages to get that S rank, and with the stages that featured goons, there was enough randomness to it that kept things interesting.
Rooftop Renegade is out February 17th on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Playstation 4.