Roguelikes are ten a penny these days. You've probably played at least one; Spelunky, The Binding of Isaac, Rogue Legacy, and Enter the Gungeon are just the tip of the iceberg. It also happens that they're all excellent, each putting its own spin on the permadeath, randomly generated crunchiness that the genre is known for. Full Mojo Rampage, from developer Over the Top Games, is entering a crowded space, then, and in the presence of such good company, it may be difficult for it to stand out.
Set in a cutesy Voodoo world full of magic and trickery, you must complete quests, defeat hordes of enemies, and appease the powerful Loa gods. It's certainly an interesting backdrop; we can't say that we've heard of many games tackling voodoo culture. The main title consists of four lengthy quests, each of which presenting a handful of levels, some special stages or events, and a boss fight. The arrangement of these segments is randomly generated, much like the levels themselves.
Now, four quests might not sound like much, but you won't be making it through them quickly at all. You're expected to die a lot, replaying the same stages again and again to level up and progress further. We found Full Mojo Rampage to be surprisingly challenging, and levelling up takes longer than you'd expect, making for some frustrating early impressions; how far you're able to progress depends on how quickly you can learn the game's systems and enemies before you grow weary of the first few levels.
The core gameplay is akin to a twin-stick shooter, with plenty of cannon fodder attacking from all angles as you search the map for quest items. Throughout the various quests, enemies come in all shapes and sizes: zombies, skeletons, chickens – the usual. Their attacks are varied and, when there's a lot of baddies onscreen, it can become a little too hectic for its own good. Some enemies will drop mojos when they die; these are passive upgrades and give one of your stats a brief boost. They can also drop temporary new weapons and health potions; often there will be too many useful items to carry around in your tiny inventory, forcing you to prioritise your equipment.
Of course, this is all lost when you die, and your progress throughout the quest is also reset. Your XP earned and the medals and coins you collect do persist through lives, however, allowing you to become stronger and discover some new abilities. Medals are used to purchase new Loa, each one bestowing buffs or powers you can take into battle. The default Loa is Baron Samedi, offering a quick dodge and an explosive attack, but later spirits allow you to do things such as self-heal or summon a decoy to take hits for you. There's also the unlockable voodoo pins that can be upgraded with the coins, and these offer simple stat buffs.
This typical gameplay loop of embarking on a quest, dying, improving, and going again is part and parcel for the genre, and yet Full Mojo Rampage just doesn't quite hit the right notes. It can get boring pretty fast, despite a fair amount of things to see and do. There are secrets, loot chests, Loa shrines, and shops hiding in each level, so they're not devoid of content; the game is just a little too hard and not quite fun enough to keep your interest for long.
Outside of the normal quests, you can also try out the daily challenge, survival mode, or play online multiplayer. This is somewhat a mystery, as despite many attempts, we couldn't find a single online session. However, we can tell you that modes include Co-Op, Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, and King of Mojo. It's a shame we were unable to test this aspect of the game, but it seems as though no one is excited about it at the moment.
Full Mojo Rampage is a passable and challenging roguelike that, sadly, doesn't repeat the successes of the genre's best and brightest. While its premise is interesting and presented neatly, the gameplay isn't quite as engaging as it could be, and its difficulty may put people off long before the final stages. The online multiplayer is a nice idea, but is sadly a ghost town, and there is little else to get excited about. Roguelike fans may still find some value here, but for the majority, the magic will quickly wear off.