In 2015, the Brazilian development team of Rogue Snail put together a single-player free-to-play looter shooter that introduced a band of space rebels fighting against an evil empire of space ducks. Rogue Hunters: Rebels was originally released as a solo (though it later received local two-player co-op support) standalone tale, but Gearbox Publishing looked at the struggle of a downtrodden band of freedom fighters and a mallard-based menace and saw the potential for something greater. Eight years later, Gearbox and Rogue Snail have teamed up for a new chapter in the latter's space saga called Relic Hunters Legend.
Relic Hunters Legend follows a young amnesiac lost in space with no recollection of their whereabouts or identity. This person soon stumbles across one of the original Relic Hunters, a donkey man named Ace. The rest of the Relic Hunters soon arrive to save the silent unnamed protagonist from the forces of the Ducan Empire, a warlike race of feathered fiends led by the evil Duke Ducan.
There are some major differences between Legend and its predecessor. First off, the pixelated style of the original game has been left behind in favor of a more hand-drawn, cel-shaded art style. Instead of looking like a game out of the 1980s, it now looks like a more modern cartoon show. The quippy main characters add to that aesthetic greatly. Once the opening chapter introduces characters to the various Relic Hunters and their fast-paced humor, it becomes clear that the game is targeting all ages.
The other big step forward from Rebels is mainly in the sequel's broader scope. Legend can be played as a standalone story like the game that came before it. However, this is mainly being designed as an online action RPG where friends can jump into short sessions, complete some objectives, beat some bosses, and collect some sweet loot. That loot comes in the form of improved weaponry, gear, or materials to upgrade whatever's on hand. Looter shooter veterans should have a general idea of how this all works.
Legend's main draw looks to be the charming characters and their cartoonish story, but it certainly helps that it feels like a perfectly competent twin stick shooter. Players get an option to set their controls at the start and those who approach it as a traditional twin stick shooter will, in fact, receive a damage bonus. While it's not quite bullet hell, the high number of dangerous critters and big bad bosses will have characters scrambling. Sometimes, it'll send them scrambling off a cliff, which isn't particularly fun, but that's the beauty of being in Early Access, is that things like that can be addressed.
There's no word on how long Relic Hunters Legend will be in early access, but Rogue Snail hopes to be hard at work on this for a long time. After all, the game has been in development for several years, with Gearbox only taking over publishing duties last year, so why rush a release date? The studio prides itself on being fully remote and crunch-free, but that doesn't mean they won't be constantly monitoring the game's Discord channel for ways to improve over the course of its development. Relic Hunters Legend is on Steam Early Access starting today.
These impressions are based on an early PC build provided by the publisher. It may not be representative of the final product.