RISK OF RAIN 2 is an incredibly charming 3d roguelike game that is a blast to play in its current state. There’s something about this game that really tickles my simple monkey brain, which could be either the endless pursuit of shiny items or the dinging noise that plays when you score a critical hit. Either way, there’s something innately appealing to me about survival games, and RISK OF RAIN 2 ticks all the boxes.

The premise is this: you land on a foreign planet as one of six characters. Each character has their own abilities and strengths, which help you slay heaps of enemies. Once landed, you begin searching for the teleporter, which moves you to the next level. As you search, you encounter enemies to destroy and tons of items to pick up. Each item is stackable, giving you the ability to stack items on top of each other many times over. You continue through levels, picking up items and defeating bosses until you inevitably die, at which point you choose a new character and do it all over again.

This may seem really repetitive, but RISK OF RAIN 2 handles this really well due to its roguelike format. Each new run you play is a whole new experience. Level geography is slightly different, item boxes spawn in new locations, and you collect new items as you move on. This means that each time you start over, you play a slightly different character in a slightly new environment.

The Mercenary stares down a group of Wisps in RISK OF RAIN 2
Image courtesy of Hopoo Games

Early Access

The game came onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere in late March, after its reveal at PAX East. It is currently in early access, which essentially means that they released an early build of the game and will continue to release free content while current content can be played. So what kind of content can we expect in the coming months?

Fortunately for us, there are a few hints in the game already. RISK OF RAIN 2 features a logbook, which chronicles each character you play, each item you find, and each enemy you encounter. Interestingly, there are quite a few blank item spaces. Each space’s accompanying text reads “This piece of content is still in development. Come back soon!” Additionally, there are four empty character spaces which read the same. In this case, the game is suggesting that we can expect new items and characters once new content starts being released. Additionally, I would expect new stages and bosses, as these aspects aren’t as varied as the items.

Surprisingly, RISK OF RAIN 2 has few bugs to speak of for an early access game. Given how many items there are and how they can interact with each other, I’m shocked there weren’t any unforeseen consequences. Other than the occasional “fall through the bottom of the map” bug, the game feels incredibly stable and would play like a finished product if it weren’t for the lack of content.

Knowing all of this is really exciting as a fan of the game so far. I’m already very impressed with its current state. Being told that new content will work its way in only makes me want to play more.

The Engineer looks proudly at the havoc he's caused
Image courtesy of Hopoo Games

RISK OF RAIN’s Item Insanity

The way that RISK OF RAIN 2 handles its items is what makes this game truly stand out. There are currently 75 items that are unlockable through challenges and spawn in levels, all of which vary in rarity. Each item has a relatively simple effect: maybe increasing your critical chance or applying bleed damage to your hits. This leads to some pretty wild combinations later on, since every item can be used simultaneously, and they all stack on top of one another. What this means is that by the time you collect a ton of these small-effect items a few times over, you can create chain reactions of exploding enemies that heal you, all while you’re sprinting around the stage at the speed of sound.

Obviously, this leads to some pretty powerful character builds, but the game’s attitude toward this feels refreshing. Creating a character build that ends up being way too powerful is encouraged by these mechanics. The game wants you to feel like a superhero, which is incredibly refreshing in a world full of carefully balanced hero shooters, like OVERWATCH or RAINBOW SIX: SIEGE. It gives you the opportunity to blast through dozens of enemies at a time while making you feel absurdly powerful. This is absolutely the best part of the game and is obviously the intention. The first RISK OF RAIN followed a similar format in a 2d platformer package and was incredibly effective. It isn’t surprising that they kept this aspect of the game, as it’s the part that feels most integral to each game.

RISK OF RAIN 2's Mercenary slicing and dicing
Image courtesy of Hopoo Games

The Third Dimension

Many fans of the first game have been cautious of the game’s switch from 2d to 3d. This is completely understandable. It’s hard to imagine that the first RISK OF RAIN gave way to what we have now. For fans that are still hesitant to give it a try, it’ll probably be a hard change to grapple with but I think it pays off. Navigating a 3d environment as familiar characters can definitely be jarring. But RISK OF RAIN 2 has effectively captured the spirit of its predecessor.

RISK OF RAIN 2 is simply just a really fun game. The fact that each time you play is different from the last and that item stacking leads to you feeling invincible makes for a really good time. Not since SKYRIM have I put ten hours into a game its first day. And that’s high praise coming from me. It’s been a blast clearing levels with friends, which makes me excited knowing that new content is on the way. If you can spare the $20, I can’t recommend RISK OF RAIN 2 enough.

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