Can this new Australian game developer take gaming to new heights? Find out in our Rooftop Renegade review.
High there. Here at Qualbert, we love to support home grown Australian talent. Melonhead Games is an up-and-coming new development studio based in the beautiful state of South Australia. Since 2017, their mission is to focus on short burst gameplay and vibrant aesthetics with Rooftop Renegade being their first solo developed flagship title. Development has been bubbling away since 2018, and along the way has garnered national attention in the form of multiple awards including being the PAX Australia 2022 Indie Showcase winner.
A brand new game from a brand new development team – is their first race a gold medal effort, or is this an unfortunate slip and stumble? Launch into our Rooftop Renegade review to find out.
Rooftop Renegade Review – Story
There isn’t much of a story to Rooftop Renegade, the set-up for this game is as basic as it gets. In fact, we don’t really get any backstory whatsoever. I think we play as some kind of thief type person. We are definitely trying to run away from what appears to be a police force entity known as ‘Globacorp‘.
Thankfully, we are packing some sick kicks in the form of ‘hoverblades‘ that allow us to zoom across the city’s canopy in order to make our escape. Why are we running away…I have no idea. To avoid getting arrested there is only one option – we gotta go fast.
Rooftop Renegade Review – Gameplay
The tutorial levels helpfully run you through the basic movement of the game. Press forward to go forward, press jump to jump. Got it? In the air and need to drop down quickly to hit the next rail? Just hit L2. Grinding on a rail is faster than just running on foot after all. The fall/ducking mechanic is also useful to scamper under low railings that impede progress.
At the start of the game we have only the basic hoverblades in our kit bag – these have one additional skill being the speed boost (R2). As the game progresses gems that are strewn around the rooftops can be collected and later used to unlock increasingly powerful blades that have up to four different skills available.
The other three available skills are a super-jump (launch), a short forward dash that can be used to break through techno-barriers and traps (blink) and invulnerability that can be switched on to pass through enemy traps without slowing down for a short period of time (phase). Each of these skills is hard bound to its own button on the controller and has a short period of cooldown after use.
On your marks… set…
In a fast ‘fast-paced action platformer’ (as claimed by the developer) it would certainly be nice to go fast. It is certainly possible to go fast, particularly when using the speed boost while grinding on a rail… unless of course the Globacorp goons that appear in the majority of levels have shot down the railing.
There are multiple paths through each of the game’s 24 main levels. However, regardless of which path is chosen, the Globacorp enemies will use their weapons to slow you down – considerably. Despite being tagged as ‘fast-paced’, the majority of the later levels just make you feel slow. It is hard to get that sense of ‘flow’ that I feel is imperative in these types of games. Unfortunately, the game seems to do its very best to frustratingly slow.
There is a multiplayer option available where up to three other players can take control of the Globacorp team and do their best to slow down player one as they dash through the skies. In single or multiplayer modes, we do have one small way of fighting back – there are some special rails scattered through some levels that when grinded…ground…uh used…cause the Globacorp goons to be stunned for a few seconds. Of course as soon as the stun ends they seem to immediately knock out the next grinding rail you want to use – every shingle time.
In addition to the 24 core levels, the game also has what is called Generator Mode. This uses procedural generation to form infinite unique levels that can be replayed or shared with your friends as needed.
Rooftop Renegade Review – Presentation
This is one area of the game where Melonhead Games were definitely on top of things. The game runs smoothly like a runaway skateboard down a halfpipe, and there were no bugs or crashes to be seen.
Visually, the animation is nice for the efforts of a small indie team, and there are a number of different styles of level that do look and feel different as you play. I did find the choice of having Globacorp take up almost a quarter of the screen a little puzzling. I suppose it could make sense for the multiplayer mode, but it seems unnecessary for single player.
Musically, the game has some great techno tracks that match the feeling of the gameplay – without the unnecessary slowing down of course. Even the menu music has a great subdued beat you get you ready for the challenges ahead.
I am very thankful for the team at Melonhead games providing the Qualbert team with a code for Rooftop Renegade on the house.
My main complaint is that there isn’t enough content here. Yes, there is the Generator Mode where an endless array of levels can be created, shared and raced against friends. But after a while these feel very ‘similar’. I do admit that I was unable to test out the multiplayer mode, however I doubt that this would provide significant longevity to the title.
A decent first up effort that has me hoping the team at Melonhead Games has some more great ideas locked away.
Rooftop Renegade isn’t quite the smash hit game I was hoping for, but as a first up effort there are still enough things here to like that I’ll definitely raise my expectations for Melonhead’s follow-up game.
So, why should you play it?
- Australians wanting to support a local team will find a fun little indie title here
- The dynamic soundtrack houses some bangers
But, why shouldn’t you play it?
- Unless you have a super-competitive group of friends that like action platformers, this is a very short game
A review code on PlayStation 5 was kindly provided by Melonhead Games for the purpose of our Rooftop Renegade review. Enjoyed our Rooftop Renegade review? Check out our other reviews for indies big and small and follow us on Facebook or our brand new Discord Server to join the discussion!