Ultra-Indie Spotlight Sunday: Jupiter Hell Is Rogue, No Lite

These folks have fallen for one of the classic video game blunders. Never make your space colony on a planet that’s the entrance to Sheol. So it seems that mistake has been made again in Jupiter Hell. You arrive back at base after your usual spaceship rounds only to find that the whole complex is overrun with demons and zombies. You’ve only one chance to get out alive. It’s time to rip and tear, only this time, in a turn-based fashion. 

Conceptual Meta-Wank:

More often than not, when a game calls itself a roguelike, what they really mean is roguelite. Taking elements from Rogue generally means that the game has some procedurally generated elements, progression between deaths, and gameplay that ranges from Hades’ hacking and slashing, Golden Light’s stalking and sneaking, and Slay the Spire’s card-playing. But these are not actually like Rogue

A roguelike actually has to be like Rogue to be called as such. For instance, Jupiter Hell. This stretches the limits of what a roguelike is, seeing as the game isn’t in ASCII art and isn’t sub 50 kilobytes. Besides that, however, Jupiter Hell has successfully taken a classic genre and mixed it with a completely different genre: the first truly roguelike boomer-shooter.

Non-Wanky Game Recap:

The gameplay for Jupiter Hell is a lot like Rogue. Obviously. But there are some significant differences. For instance, it’s in 3D with combat more of an isometric shooter than an RPG. Every turn you can move your character around the corridors. Your character moves, and every other NPC moves too. Should you encounter one, they will generally try to kill you immediately, and you them. Some shoot with guns, others with claws and fireballs. And some will deploy special abilities like a smokescreen to shake things up. 

What Works:

Jupiter Hell is a turn-based game, but don’t let that fool you. This is still a fast-paced bloodbath that at times feels just as intense as DOOM. The game goes as fast as you can play it, with enemies reacting simultaneously to you. And the more enemies you encounter, the more they swarm you. And unlike roguelites, there is no carry-over progression. Once your Doomguy Jupiterfella dies, you get to start over again from scratch. Good luck!

What Doesn’t:

Although I recognize that this is intended to be played like a roguelike, I still miss some of the modern elements of video games. Namely, the use of the mouse. Jupiter Hell is entirely on keyboard, which has its positives. I can play it in bed on my back with my laptop battery burning my sternum. But I would have liked for the option to use the mouse too, and play the game more methodically like XCOM

How To Fix It:

Obviously adding the mouse in gameplay would be a big ordeal for little payoff. There’s no “turn-mouse-on” button in Unity or whatever engine they used. Jupiter Hell could have used some easier access for the menus, however, so that players could more easily change the key layout to their liking. Or perhaps some pre-made alternate layouts. Either way, this is not a dealbreaker by a long shot.

Wanky Musings:

Jupiter Hell is cool not just because it made DOOM into a roguelike. It shows just how intriguing and fun a combo of two unlikely genres could be.  Why not make Silent Hill into a Deus Ex style RPG? Or Dead Space into a visual novel? Or whatever your favorite horror franchise is into a gacha mobile game? The possibility for future game developers to experiment with clashing genres is infinite.

You can buy Jupiter Hell on Steam by clicking here