420 years after a cataclysmic event destroys the Earth as we know it, demons, robots, and other creepy creatures roam the planet. To make matters worse, the basic laws of physics and nature have gone out the window, rendering the Earth a treacherous hellscape. This sets the story for I, Dracula: Genesis. As the last line of defense against these foes, players assume the role of Hunters, fighting back against the monsters that now rule the world. I got to go hands-on with an early buid of the game on Steam, playing with mouse and keyboard.
MoreGames’ has said explicitly that the development of their Roguelite was influenced by The Binding of Isaac. This is evident as the player moves from location to location, taking on an assortment of dangerous foes. Before jumping into a session, players choose from up to 20 unlockable characters, each of which has their own unique abilities. These abilities can boost the chance of finding special loot, or allow the player to regain a fraction of health before a boss fight. Each "island" that you reach effectively works like a room in The Binding of Isaac, or many other Roguelites. Each isalnd has a randomly set number of enemies, which the player must defeat all of in order to gain access to move to the next (or previous) island. I found myself constantly moving around in order to avoid the attacks coming in from different directions, while firing back at my enemies.
As a Roguelite, I, Dracula: Genesis delivers on what players expect from the genre. From the jump, gameplay is challenging. Just naturally exploring the world, I found myself in the clutches of a necromance wielding boss. I was caught off guard by the encounter, but I should’ve paid attention to the flashing skull with horns above the pathway to the platform. After my quick demise, I was given a stat sheet listing my kills, play time, and other miscellaneous information about my run. The second time around, I was much more equipped for battle.
Live, die, repeat
This is the draw of a good roguelite, and what MoreGames gets so right with I, Dracula: Genesis. Deaths feel truly crushing. Every time I lose with a rare piece of gear or after making substantial progress, I feel defeated. However, I also go into my next run better informed on how to survive and make my way through the levels. It’s this loop of losing, learning, and improving that keeps the gameplay feeling fresh.
The world layout is procedurally generated, so no matter what, you’re never entirely prepared for what could be waiting around the corner. Because of this, some runs will feel particularly unlucky or unfair, but that’s the name of the game. The map is split up into different “universes” which players must pick from before setting out on adventure. Similar to the playable characters, universes have their own stat and ability changes, which influence gameplay and strategy.
Endless ways to play
I, Dracula: Genesis boasts over 1200 items, including weapons, gadgets, perks, consumables, and more. This makes for a vast number of possible combinations in any given run. From modifications that allow weapons to shoot flaming rocks, to lasers that slow down enemies, there’s an endless number of ways to take down the adversaries in I, Dracula: Genesis.
The visual style of I, Dracula: Genesis is where the game really finds its identity. The isometric camera angle is a staple of the genre, and provides the player with a solid view of the playing field. The characters and creatures are well-detailed, with many of them looking like they were plucked from a retro sci-fi horror game.
I, Dracula: Genesis is a more than solid roguelite, taking all of the elements that define the genre, and implementing them exceptionally. The developers’ dedication to creating an endlessly replayable, yet challenging experience shows in the wide variety of enemies and customization. MoreGames could really knock this out of the park by implementing more universes, weapons, and enemies in the full release. This is only a chunk of what will come when MoreGames’ I, Dracula: Genesis hits full release next year.
These impressions are based on a digital download code provided by the publisher. I, Dracula: Genesis will be available for early access on Steam fon May 22.