PEGBRJE: TEOCALLI and 9 Till Void
Roguelikes coming to a station near you
TEOCALLI is a 1bit roguelike made by coldrice, the indie dev that brought us Interstellaria from before (which I still have and still enjoy). In this adventure, players are exploring a Mesoamerican temple in the hopes of finding the only healing treasure to heal the beloved of our protagonist. Will we make it, or will we crumble to the defenses of the temple? Do note, this game appears to still be in alpha, so this overview may not hold up in the future.
TEOCALLI is a pure simple exploration of a 13-floored temple, utilizing movement as the main way of interaction. Each time the player moves, the world state is updated; meaning that if the something needs to move, it waits until after the player has completed their move. It’s a turn-based system focused on the player as the ‘turn’, a system we’ve seen in a few roguelikes in the past. Attacking is as simple as moving into the space of an enemy for them to take damage, and if they were planning on moving into the space of the player they will retaliate. This expands into other styles of hazards, from enemies that can attack at range to traps that spring at specific ‘turn’ intervals. There’s also the floor puzzle of sorts, in which the stairs to continue are blocked by defenses. To break these, players will need to find the button to open them, but this can be tricky to locate. Some times there are keys to find to get through to the button, other times there are trap paths. What one finds is always random, so adaptation is key.
TEOCALLI is not trying to hide or trick, but instead lay out everything on the floor and allow players to simply do. There aren’t many excessive elements to bog down or confuse, just the merchant that sells items for cacao dropped by enemies. How you get to the 13th floor is completely up to you; kill everything, avoid everything, or speed run your way to an early death to allow the gods to claim your soul. If you enjoy roguelikes and want something more in the veins of a ‘return to form’ of sorts, try this out.
9 Till Void is a deckbuilding roguelike made by Ben Allen, an indie dev out of the United States making dozens of games with GameMaker Studio. In this title, players are the Spellsword, attempting to build their decks in order to attack the enemies and reach the heart of the darkness threatening the lands. Except, there’s no deck, nor are there really cards; so what’s going on?
At its core, 9 Till Void follows a similar loop to TEOCALLI before it, where each move players do is considered an action, and enemies perform their action afterwards. Items are littered all over the ground, between mana coins, gold coins and ‘action’ tokens where players gain another action to perform. Every so many turns the map shrinks inwards as the void attempts to claim the level, limiting the amount of grid that players can explore and turning unclaimed items into deadly tiles. So where does the deck come in?
In truth, the deckbuilding is more of a ‘row builder’, if that makes sense. Cards are purchased with those gold coins at the end of every round, and are hung on the sides of the grid. Players can only utilize the cards that are in the row that they are in (unless specifics allow them to ignore this rule), making each movement more critical than ever. Rather than allowing players to simply attack anything, they much understand which row they are in or where they need to be in order to remove the enemies that are assailing them. Since there are dozens of card styles, it’s up to the player to determine which row would benefit an ability most, such as abilities to assist in escapes on the top and bottom. It makes each move extremely important, for players can get run down by enemies really quickly if they are lacking in a specific resource, or don’t have certain cards. Thankfully, the default card for every run start is the magic punch, so there’s at least some combat ability early on. However, once a card has been replaced, it cannot be undone, so plan each run accordingly.
It’s a fantastic twist on the style, as 9 Till Void wants players to think a bit differently outside of just ‘self preservation’ for roguelikes. Having to juggle cards and their placement can be super challenging the longer the game goes, and can be super rewarding when it all comes together. It can take a while to get into the groove, but anyone looking for a roguelike that alters the formula will definitely want to try this out.
Your loved one has become ill, and only the healing treasure from a desecrated meso-american temple can heal them…