- Genre: Action, Platformer
- Developer: Melonhead Games
- Publisher: Melonhead Games
- Release Date: February 16, 2023
- Platform: PlayStation, Steam, Switch, Xbox
- Price: $17.99
- Reviewed on: PC
A review of Rooftop Renegade? Yes, I am as surprised as you and the other readers. The fact is, I was never meant to add to my workload and review a game and much less multiple games. See, I had this grandiose idea about me working less in 2023. Obviously, I broke that New Year’s resolution like you did yours about going to the gym. Yes, we all know you did, so there is no point in denying it. Also, you are here reading a game review after all. So consider yourself busted the same way I was by the guards of Globacorp in Rooftop Renegade.
Poorly optimized hitboxes
Why do you act all surprised? It should come as no surprise that I am a mediocre gamer. So it was just a matter of time before I would get caught by the guards of Globacorp, or more specifically the pursuit van called Thrasher. OK, I am just partially to blame for getting caught. The main reason for me getting caught was me getting stuck in a hitbox—a poorly optimized hitbox at that. But what is a hitbox, I hear you ask? To answer that question I am going to refer to the highly trusted source known as Wikipedia and what they have to say about the subject.
I know Melonhead Games, the developer behind Rooftop Renegade, does not want to hear this. And I can not say I hold it against them either. I mean, who wants to hear that the game you have been working on for a long time have what others perceive as issues? But part of my job as a reviewer is to point out issues where I see them. And I have seen quite a few—some game-breaking, and some based on personal preference. But do not worry. I will round this review off with some good points as well.
Non-negotiable rules of a genre
Albeit being an arcade game, Rooftop Renegade is also a precision platformer. As such you expect it to follow some non-negotiable rules. But the way hitboxes work in the game, it can not. Take the press image above as an example. Yes, although I took some good-looking screenshots of my own I decided to take the lazy route and use one of the press images to better illustrate my point. And before you criticize me for it I would like to remind you about that New Year’s resolution you broke. You know, the one about you being “too lazy” for the gym.
As you can see in the image, the guards of Globacorp are doing a number on the transportation tubes. Now, imagine that you reach the rightmost side of the destroyed tube and get stuck for a hundredth of a second or more. That is what happened to me on multiple occasions. I know what you are thinking. This issue is so bad on its own there cannot possibly be any more issues, right? What would you say if I told you there is? And what would you say if I told you that there is one particular issue that is as bad or worse?
The critical point of an edge
The issue I am referring to has to do with hitboxes colliding. Think character and edges of platforms. Even if you hit an edge straight on, you never know if you will be sent upwards or downwards. The fact is, you could be above and beyond the critical point of an edge and still be pulled down as if you were meant to fall through whatever empty space you are close to. This is also true in the opposite direction, especially around rails. I can not count the times I have been below a rail just to be pulled upwards and placed on the rail.
I do not know how it is for you, but if my brain registers an assumed direction, it is already processing said direction and the direction and obstacles after it. So when a game decides to change the rules on the fly and send me in the opposite direction without any apparent reason, it becomes a problem no matter if I get stuck along the way or not. I would go as far as to say that getting stuck for a hundredth of a second or more is the lesser of two evils.
But what does this mean for you? Well, it depends on you and what you are looking for. If you are looking for a precision platformer, Rooftop Renegade is not for you. If you are looking for a less stringent arcade experience, Rooftop Renegade might be worth a look. I say might as even the arcade side of things comes with some caveats.
Preferences of an accomplished renegade
Oh, you thought I was done being a negative Nancy, eh? To your defense, I thought so too. But I find it hard to stay silent when a game gives me a reason not to. And with that in mind. What I am about to shine some light on has to do with my personal preferences rather than any actual faults with the game. I mean, I did finish the game before writing this review after all. So in that sense, Rooftop Renegade is a highly playable game even if we account for the issues I mentioned above. And that is a good thing, right?
What is less good is the fact Rooftop Renegade is a short game with bad pacing and not enough content. There are 3 worlds and 8 unlockable ranks in total. The first 5 ranks are tied to 24 levels in the arcade mode and 5 hover blades. The other 3 ranks are tied to 3 hover blades. Why Melonhead Games decided on this particular split between levels and hover blades I do not know. But I know it feels wrong and that I would like to see a more well-distributed split across the ranks during a longer period of time. As a point of reference. It took me less than three hours to unlock everything.
Another thing I would like to have seen is a ladder and some semblance of a storyline and accompanying missions. This could have helped in giving the arcade mode some substance and differentiate it from the generator mode. As it stands, there is no real difference between the two modes other than their names. And that, dear reader, is a wasted opportunity if I ever saw one. But as bad as the arcade mode is, as good the party mode is. Let me guess. You did not think I would keep my word and end this review on a good note, right?
The roles of runners and chasers
Rooftop Renegade has a multiplayer option called party mode. But be aware it is offline only. Yes, I know, multiplayer games should have online support in 2023. But I also know that netcode can be quite costly and time-consuming to implement. And let’s be honest, there are ways around it if we really want to play Rooftop Renegade with our distant friends. But I digress.
What I like about the party mode is the asymmetric setup in which one player takes the role of a runner, and up to three players take the role of chasers. The runner has up to four abilities and access to disruption rails, while each chaser has loadouts consisting of a weapon and a special. The goal of each chaser is to slow the runner down so Thresher, the pursuit wan, can catch up and haul the runner away. It might sound like a simple concept—and it is. But the important thing is, it works, and maybe even more importantly, it hides much of Rooftop Rengade’s issues.
Whether or not the party mode is a good enough reason for you to buy the game, I cannot say. But I can say this. The arcade mode, which I feel should be the strongest part of the game, is not.
Disclaimer: Rooftop Renegade was provided to me by the PR firm IndiEXP on behalf of Melonhead Games for review.