RogueStone is billed as a hard-core RPG, and graphics have the look of a pixel art game. In fact, the graphics look like they are straight out of 1982, and RogueStone goes so far as to limit the color palette to something akin to four color CGA graphics, circa 1982. Back to the bit where RogueStone calls itself a hard-core RPG, RogueStone could be considered hard core in the sense that the player’s party starts out with almost nothing, and with no instructions. The group begins at a brick building that contains several dancing vendors. Old school players may get a sense of Ultima II or III based on the look. There are several vendors inside the building, where all sort of adventuring materials can be bought and sold. A starting player has no money (called GP) and no experience (called XP) to buy or claim rewards with. To begin getting money and experience, all the player has to do is wander a few tiles in any direction and they will immediately be in a very strange ‘zone’ that looks like a sort of checkerboard pattern. Things get really strange here. A menu appears and the player can select from: C1-0, B1-0, A1-0, S1-0, Explore, Camp, Portal, or Town. Most of these selections don’t work or do anything useful. Some refer to some code that must be completed first, for example selecting S1-0, then S1-1 results in a message “Clear (A7-0) to unlock”. Eventually the selecting to top option, C1-0, then C1-1, starts a fight between the party and two giant pixelated scorpions.
RogueStone has several options that are unlike options found in most games and a few may actually be totally unique. Aside from sound and music options, of which there appear to be several, RogueStone includes options for selecting the precise shading of the color palette that will be used. In addition, something called the “ColorLog” can be changed at the main menu, which even further changes the palette shades/colors. This is four color graphics on steroids! There is also a character set option, meaning the text characters displayed on the screen. The keyboard configuration can be completely customized and a nice screen was designed to set the controls, one of the better made by anyone for any game. There are several options that don’t seem to do anything when toggled, in fact, with some of the options it is impossible to discern what exactly the setting is set to. There is a save and load game function, which appears work as expected. RogueStone is played with the keyboard, but the mouse can be used for many of the functions, like point and click movement and menu selections.
Fighting an encounter in Roguestone is a visual mess. The party stats are listed at the top, but the meaning of the numbers and letters isn’t at all clear. It’s obvious what the health is when is goes down. The player can select from: Fight, Cast, and Bag. Fight rolls the dice and one of the scorpions takes damage, after several selections are made. Cast may or may not be an option depending on whether the player has equipped the character in the party, apparently what they start with is not automatically equipped. Bag allows use of consumable items like health and mana flasks; the party will start with a few of each. After fumbling through a fight and winning, the rewards are things like 8XP and 5GP, each member of the party will also receive something called “Fel”. What Fel means is a mystery, but might be some form of experience that isn’t explained or obvious. Camping after a battle heals the entire party. The rewards for victory are so low that it would take ages to buy useful items. The cheapest items in the store are buff potions for 40GP that last 40 uses and give +1 to some associated stat. Mystery boxes filled with some random item go for 100-3000GP. There are some other items, possibly stones that go for 1000-10000GP each.
RogueStone doesn’t feel like an RPG so much as an unengaging strange grind in a strange world. It is a mixed bag of interesting retro graphics design and totally opaque game play. It’s hard to understand what the goals are, or where any thinking/planning/strategy is necessary. The fights are mindless, literally just hammering the enter key over and over until the enemies are dead and gaining a small amount of GP, XP, and Fel. There isn’t a sense of danger. After a battle, one member of the party showed as dead, but camping restored him to full health. While there is a tiny bit of dialog with the few NPCs, it’s not enough to give any sense of what the player should be doing, where the characters are, what the world they are in is. The whole idea of roll play is lost in this world; the player doesn’t have any sense of a world to roll play in. It’s unimaginable that menu items like C1-0 could be explained by any dialog, these feel like place holders. Although RogueStone may look a bit like an old school RPG from the 1980s, it doesn’t feel like an RPG at all. The developer obviously has technical ability, however RogueStone is incoherent and not recommended in its current state.