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The local multiplayer railgun platformer has just received its first pre-launch demo on Steam. We’ve had Rooftop Renegade on our radar since we spoke to Patrick from Melonhead Games this time last year at PAX AUS and it’s now time to take a deep dive into what works about this wacky concept and what needs some tweaking prior to its full release.

Disclaimer: This demo was played on a PC with an Xbox One controller.

Svetlana is equipped with some awesome neo-futuristic skates that are referred to as “Chrono-Kicks”, giving her the ability to slide and grind throughout the levels which are made up of the dangerous rooftops of this city. Not only are the rooftops dangerous but she also needs to watch out for the Globacorp Command aircraft vans that are chasing after her, as well as the gunners that will stop at nothing to shoot the pathways ahead of her in order to slow her down.

It takes a few runs through the tutorial to get your head around the control scheme. There’s a lot to factor in and it may come across as overwhelming at first. However one you get the hang of the controls and find your rhythm, you’ll easily find yourself in the zone. Rooftop Renegade is fantastic for speedrunners given that there are a lot of ways to minimise floating time by holding down the left trigger to dive/slide, holding down the right trigger will give you a boost, pressing the B button which allows you to shift through electric hazards and pressing the Y button to launch herself to higher and sometimes, to more optimal platforms. The rails and ring boosts give the player clear indication to where they will gain the most speed and it’s these paths that they’ll ideally want to take (if the shooters don’t take them out first). One issue I did constantly find was that it was difficult to determine when my meter had been filled up enough to use all of these abilities as I was too focussed on what was coming up next and the meters weren’t clear enough to have me fully aware of it.

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You can collect Shards along the way, increasing your score and what I hope will be the game’s currency to purchase more upgrades (cosmetic or not) in the game’s full release. The game will also take into account how long it took for you to complete the level and give you a final rating as you’d expect in most modern arcade-style titles. However on my first run-through, I crashed a lot, was almost caught several times by Globacorp Command and missed a whole lot of shards and yet I still received a perfect S rank. This may need to be addressed as it didn’t seem to accurately reflect my efforts.

The art style is crisp and lively with a wonderful attention to detail. Made in Unreal engine, you can see just how much effort Melonhead Games have put into making sure that Rooftop Renegade is an instantly eye-catching game, one that will make any spectator beg for a turn. The soundtrack that plays over the top is adrenaline-pumping and upbeat, perfect for this fast-paced and frantic gameplay. Each boost gives off a satisfying whoosh sound and the glowing neon lighting that Svetlana would leave behind her was immensely satisfying, I just wish there was a little bit of rumble to accompany that feeling.

The full release in 2021 (PC; Switch promised but with a TBA release date) will feature endless level combinations, a local-multiplayer mode where three more players can take control of the gunner (would have loved to have tried that out in the demo), online leaderboards and three unique worlds. What I did feel was missing and what concerns me about the game’s full release is its lack of plot. The world has been built and there’s a reason Globacorp are chasing after Svetlana, I just wish there was a story mode with cutscenes (even in a rudimentary comic book style) to provide more emphasis and motivation to the player. The gameplay is sleek and can absolutely be enjoyed with friends and family in local multiplayer or even single player with those online leaderboards, but a story would flesh out this upcoming gem wonderfully.

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Posted by Alex Harding

Lover of chocolate and admirer of video games, Alex is the chief writer/editor of Switchaboo.