Source of Madness is one of the many roguelites that flood today’s digital stores, trying to propose something new to the players or, at least of carve out a slice of the public. In this case we are faced with a title that seems take inspiration from Dead Cells, to then break away very clearly.
The game focuses on procedural generationwhich this time he understands even the enemies themselves, and on combat, the central focus of the experience and, in a certain sense, the only source of fun. So let’s see if Source of Madness is worth getting your hands on in our review.
Source of Madness tells in flashes
The Source of Madness story it never comes thorough too much and, on the contrary, it comes relegated to a few dialogues and short cutscene, which however remain very cryptic. What we do know for sure, though, is that our planet was invaded by “Blasphemous and indescribable horrors”Lovecraft would say, which run around undisturbed to the various lands, bringing death and terror.
Our character, on the other hand, it is part of a cult that stands in the way of this invasion of terrorthanks to various Magic powers. The acolytes of this organization will therefore seek to face the hordes of creaturesin order to find the source of this madness and solve the problem.
Starting from these premises, Source of Madness hardly delves into the story, limiting himself to proposing short dialogues spoken by enigmatic characters and sporadic cutscenes that do not go into too much depth. The result, therefore, is that of a pleasant side dish which, although they never become central, still manages to thrill thanks to a unique and eccentric style.
The centerpiece of Source of Madness
Source of Madness, as often happens in the genre, focus on pure gameplay, trying to break away from the huge competition that exists today between roguelikes and derivatives. To the base, the title takes up the same structure that we have learned to recognize: we start from a hubyou explore a dungeon randomly generated, yes he dies and starts again.
After death they can unlock different elementsranging from careto new ones classes (although not too impactful), to various bonus. The final result is therefore that of typical loop of “rogue” gameswith a huge emphasis on combat.
Source of Madness dungeonsin fact, they are never too complex and often are reduced to mere containers without too many things to discover, where the main purpose of the player becomes to face hordes of enemies that bar the way. We simply start from point A and arrive at point B, with few detours and few secrets in between.
Own level design is Source of Madne’s most obvious flawss. The dungeons are indeed empty and free of environmental interactions significant (as happens in games like Spelunky, Dead Cells and many others). Then there are few tactical opportunities to be exploited (such as hills, platforms, etc.) and very few secrets to discover in the various runs.
To this are added the procedurally generated enemies which, from an aesthetic point of view, are the envy of the Dunwich Horror, from the point of view playful I’m really awful. And not in a good way. These are indeed of the shapeless masses of limbs, bodies and tentacles, “Mixed” in one creature that often yes it simply advances towards the player, attacking him with little or no animations.
Not only. Each enemy sports ragdoll physics that manifests itself in every movement, where various limbs and protuberances impact with the various surfaces. On paper this would be an advantage, me in practice we often see enemies getting stuck in the bottlenecks, in the differences in height and in some cases even blocking the player between a wall and the body of the creature itself.
To this are added the large bosswhich lead to the extreme this unfortunate choice of game design. These are often shapeless creatureswith attacks little telegraphed and, due to ragdoll physics, on which it is possible to climb. In fact, just jump above the back of the monster on duty to start shooting burst darts without being able to be hit.
We are therefore in front of bad AIaccompanied by a shortage of animations and from attacks with excessive damage (since they are often almost impossible to see), to which they are added enemies generated without a logical sense and limited in their patterns and movements.
And how does our character deal with these horrors? We have at our disposal two spells and two artifactswhich can be used with the shoulder buttons.
Spells are our main weapon and are fairly varied from each other. They can in fact include fireballs, lightning bolts, stone spears, boulders to load and more. Each spell then boasts different bulletswho travel in the game environments in a convincing way, impacting with various obstacles and demonstrating credible “physics”.
From this point of view, therefore, Source of Madness starts well. Here too we find, however critical issues. For starters, artifacts can only be used after one long cooldown period and, consequently, they have little impact on general gameplay e on most fights.
The spells themselves, then, are too few to generate enough variety of situations and, likewise, they don’t have passive traits (such as gifts in Hades or traits in Dead Cells) that can add further depth or variety to their use, which often boils down to spamming two buttons.
This, added to the unsatisfactory procedural generation – both enemies and dungeons – outlines a repetitive and shallow gameplay; which has the potential to become more interesting, but only later more development timewhich can give the various game mechanics a refinement that is now missing.
For now, in fact, the scenarios are too empty and the situations too similar to each other. Moreover, this problem also affects the central hub, which in turn is empty and devoid of satisfactory interactions. To this is added a certain dispersiveness that, in an environment not randomly generatedit is difficult to accept.
In summary Source of Madness proves to be a title that rests excessively on the classic roguelite structureproposing however not very varied and uninteresting dungeons and enemiesflanked by a combat system that starts from a good foundation, but needs to be refined and detailed. In other words, it gets better.
You can watch, but your mind may give way!
The aesthetic sector of Source of Madness is the most successful part of the game but, unfortunately, it is not enhanced by the bad technical sector. In fact, the title has very bad or absent animations, both for the enemies and for the characters encountered. The environments then alternate really beautiful and detailed views, to others with low resolution textures, with a not very exciting final result.
The artistic sector, on the other hand, is very successful, since it manages to recreate the typical Lovecraftian atmospheres very well. We are in fact faced with indescribable creatures, terrifying and gray landscapes and a palette of colors that are never too bright. Undoubtedly, it is this very particular aesthetic that has attracted many players but, as always, this is not enough to promote a video game.
Finally, the sound sector is of a good standardthanks to the very successful music, accompanied by monstrous verses and always good effects.