Preview: Danger Scavenger

29 Jun 2020

I’m something of a casual fan of rogue-likes. I don’t play them heavily, but they’re always a fun diversion when I need to break up my usual gaming schedule. It doesn’t happen that often but, as luck would have it, one was placed on my figurative “desk” to try out.

Here we have Danger Scavenger, an interesting sci-fi rogue-like twin-stick mashup, which launched into Steam Early Access ($14.99) on June 22nd, 2020 by indie studio Star Drifters.

Like many of its genre, Danger Scavenger starts off with a simple premise: Pick a character, choose your weapons, and blast enemies in a procedural-generated world. Proceed to find items and upgrades and get as far as you can without dying. When that happens, unlock more stuff, start over again, and push further without end. Simple but satisfying.

This game evoked memories of Crypt of the Necrodancer with its item system, multi-floor dungeons, and unlock system. Then just add in a dash of Smash TV with the enemies, bullets, and bombs all over that you blast twin-stick shooter style, and you have yourself a fun formula.

The game is aptly named. It has proven pretty darn difficult, needing several re-plays for me just to get to the first boss. Of course, I know many of you relish a good challenge, and Danger Scavenger certainly provides.

Though it is pretty hard, you have some control over what kind of challenge you get. You have several path options as you ascend skyscrapers, and the choices you make along the way determine what weapons that both you and the enemies, including the dungeon boss, get to use. You might enter an elevator labeled “Mines” and find an explosive weapon, while the enemies all start scattering land mines and grenades everywhere, for example. If you just can’t hack the difficulty and you need help, the game does offer local co-op. Here’s hoping they add support for Remote Play Together, though.

Of course, like every game that goes into Early Access on Steam, there are quirks and areas for improvement. The towers are a bit long and somewhat repetitive, with not a lot of variation in the terrain. Your path forward is always straight-forward, without a lot of need for exploration. Here’s hoping they add more world elements – walls, more types of objects, maybe some minor puzzle elements or other less static features to the environments to improve the variety and stave off the repetitive feeling.

There was other one thing that really started to eat at my enjoyment after a while. Shops can randomly appear where you can spend the Scrap that you’ve collected to buy additional upgrades or restore health. You get some by defeating enemies like you’d expect, but a considerable amount of your supply comes from smashing the crap out of literally every object on each floor. If you want to buy upgrades, you’ll need to spend an extra minute or two on every single floor breaking all the objects, which gets tedious pretty fast. My suggestion here would be to just move most of that scrap to the enemies and other occasionally useful items to the destructible objects, then they remain useful but you feel less obligated to spend as much time smashing everything in sight just to have enough money.

All told, Danger Scavenger is shaping up to be a pretty fun sci-fi romp if you want an indie rogue-like on a budget. You may want to watch the game and see how it progresses in Early Access first, as there are currently still a few asterisks attached to that fun.

Preview copy provided by Star Drifters for PC. Screenshots taken by writer. Featured image courtesy of Star Drifters.