When you think about running and jumping across rooftops, performing various parkour stunts to escape, you probably think of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Now imagine a game where you just jump across rooftops and other obstacles, trying to escape enemies who never stop chasing you. That is Rooftop Renegade, a side-scrolling platformer where your goal is to run to the end as fast as you can. You must navigate obstacles and dodge the disruptions that enemies throw in your way to slow you down.
Rooftop Renegade puts you in the shoes of Svetlana, who has stolen crystals from Globacorp, a sinister company that uses the crystals for evil. Svetlana must race ahead of her pursuers to ensure she doesn’t get caught, moving through various areas to escape their sight. The story doesn’t get more complex than that, as the focus is primarily on the gameplay.
Race your way to the other side
Svetlana will run across various obstacles, jumping and ducking to keep moving and maintain her speed. She must reach the end point on the right as quickly as she can, while ensuring enemies don’t catch up. Gameplay is simple, as you quickly learn the various controls necessary to get past obstacles and use powers. You can easily learn to play and start speedrunning, which is great for players who are looking for an easy game to pick up.
The designs of each area are themed around the far future, with technological advancements allowing for accelerated platforms, glowing railings, and speed-boosting portals. It’s a sleek, yet simple design that can be easily seen at high speeds. The scenery rushes by you, but obstacles and terrain are obvious enough that you know what to do. Gameplay is fast enough to challenge your reflexes, but not too fast to the point where you can’t see anything.
To provide some extra challenge, Globacorp has a team pursuing you from behind, catching up to you if you stumble too many times. There will also be a security guard force that you can see if you zoom out and who will target various parts of the level, destroying footing or activating traps. You don’t know what’s going to be activated in advance, forcing you to pay attention and adjust your plans accordingly. Everything in this game is visually distinct, even with the fast pace. That makes it easier for players to decide how they approach obstacles, or see the part of the level that is being targeted. You are never confused about what is coming next, which helps you form a plan. Even if something trips you up, you know what to look out for when you repeat the level later.
You see everything you need to know
Svetlana has various shoes called hoverblades, which give her unique abilities to navigate obstacles. Svetlana can only give herself a quick speed boost at first, but you gain access to more advanced hoverblades as you progress. You might find some obstacles slow you down during a run, which can be overcome with new abilities from future hoverblades. It provides a good incentive to progress through the game because you can return to past levels and get better times.
The entire point of Rooftop Renegade is speedrunning, and you will play each level to get from start to finish as quickly as you can. Levels will often take no more than two minutes if you don’t stumble, which makes it easy to go back and replay the game. It’s also easy to remember what you did last time, as the game provides a phantom that ‘remembers’ your past performance. You can compete with the phantom to cut down your time or gather any crystals you forgot about last time.
One special aspect of Rooftop Renegade is that apart from being captured by enemies, it’s almost impossible to fail levels. Unlike other platformers that have bottomless pits or flame traps, there are a few obstacles you can’t recover from. The worst thing an obstacle can do is make you lose time. Removing the threat of failure makes it easy to learn from mistakes, but also reduces the difficulty of the game.
Failure isn’t the end of the line
It can get frustrating if deaths and incapacitation stall every run. Even if Svetlana loses her footing or misses the right timing, there’s always another path forward. You might not get the best run right away, but at least you know what went wrong and how you can recover. This helps improve your skills for future runs while ensuring you can eventually complete your run successfully.
Unfortunately, Rooftop Renegade’s sole focus on speedrunning is a double-edged sword in a few areas. Progression to new levels is tied to your rank, which increases as you play through levels. To progress to new areas, you must increase your rank, which requires replaying past levels. While this is a great incentive to improve previous times and get the best ranks possible, there isn’t much else to do. You can’t break up the monotony with other activities because there is only one activity. Unless you enjoy constant speedrunning or take frequent breaks, it’s easy to lose interest or burn out your desire to continue playing.
Locking away new hoverblades until your level increases only exacerbates the problem. Being able to try out new abilities in focused games like these typically helps players feel they are making progress. Replaying levels doesn’t provide much progress towards the next rank and in turn holds back your progression. By the time you reach the next goal and obtain any bonuses, it’s hard to feel the rewards are worthwhile because they could have helped before. When you get them, the only thing you want to do is move on.
Keep going until you get better
Getting through levels is not too challenging but getting the best rating (an S-Rank) is difficult, sometimes to a frustrating degree. You must grab as many crystals as you can while avoiding obstacles, but on some levels, getting disrupted even once is enough to lower you to an A-Rank. Even going through a level without any issues and grabbing many crystals isn’t enough at times. Rooftop Renegade demands precision and practice, which often means playing the same level repeatedly until you get an S-Rank.
Rooftop Renegade is an enjoyable experience that’s easy to pick up and lets you get started right away. Speeding through environments has never looked this great, and it’s easy to pick yourself back up if you ever fall. While there are unlockable levels and gear to motivate you to progress, the monotony of repeating the same activity can get to players. If you’re truly into speedrunning and beating your own records, this is the game for you.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher
- Melonhead Games
- Melonhead Games
- PS4 / Xbox One / Switch / PC
- February 17, 2023