25 August 2018

ORJ: Hero Trap

With the resurgence of the roguelike genre, many of the classics (NetHack, ADOM, Angband) and newcomers (Caves of Qud, TGGW, Golden Krone Hotel) are gaining in popularity and renown. But there are so many hidden gems, obscure roguelikes few people know about and play, even though they would deserve much more attention. Here is one of them.

Floor 2, full of krakens. Only in Hero Trap.

Hero Trap is another browser roguelike that can be played here. It was created as a contribution to the Seven Day Roguelike challenge in 2017, taking up the ninth place on the overall ladder. It has a pretty cool design goal:
Make a traditional roguelike, but the very first monster kills you if you try to melee it to death.
It was successfully completed in the seven days, and later received a few more updates to fix minor bugs and add some new features. I love it.

Fighting a graveyard full of zombies. The game has
four-directional movement, so thankfully the kraken
cannot attack me.

The game is true to its design and throws monsters way too strong at you. Fight and you will die. However, clever rogues will survive, and you are playing as a (soon to be legendary) rogue!

The game also does a very clever thing with its monsters - the monsters are split into uppercase (next to unbeatable) and lowercase (hard but beatable). It's so intuitive and simple idea, yet I have not seen it in any other roguelike. It offers the most important information the player should care about and requires no spoilers or memorization. And this is still not the last clever thing about monsters Hero Trap has to offer.

Soon, you will have inventory full of unknown magical items.
Don't horde them, use them. You really, really need them.
While uppercase monsters are mostly unbeatable by conventional means, every one of them has a weakness you can exploit to overcome them. Golems are powerful killing machines, but much slower then you. Krakens cannot leave water. Faceless cannot sense you if you don't move. Saws only move in straight lines, no matter what you do, and dancing between them is really fun. Unicorns are peaceful unless you disturb them. Jabberwocks are... jabberwocks will kill you no matter what you do, so don't even try. On the plus side, they only appear very late in the game, when you have magic items are your disposal.

Quaffing unknown potions and reading unknown scrolls
is not a bad idea in this game. There is nothing that
would directly kill you and no other way of identification.

Even the lowercase monsters (or "you can kill those, but still be careful" monsters) have unique quirks and gimmicks. Monkeys steal your items and run away. Harpies come in groups and try to fly over your head to surround you. Dwarves will dig to get to you. Zombies are weak and slow, but there is a nigh endless horde of them. Fungi grow constantly, quickly filling the dungeon. Bloats cannot attack, but they will explode if you hit them. There is one monster for every letter of the alphabet, and every monster has a unique power. You won't find boring monsters in this game.

Damn you, mimics!

What's more, monsters have nice short descriptions that will hint at their behaviour and weaknesses, so you can be prepared even if you never encountered this type of creature before. Once again, no spoilers required to make informed decisions about the way you play, and clever play will get you further than mindless hacking. You will feel as a genius the first time you find a way to abuse a monster's power to your advantage.

This is my equipment for most of the game.
While it's better not getting hit, it still helps if
your enemies kill themselves as they attack.

No, it is pretty badass. In a game where stealth
will save your life, releasing clouds of impenetrable
darkness from you sword is very cool.

As if this was not enough, Hero Trap offers an interesting take on magical items. There is a set of enchantments, but they can appear on different item types. Every game, an item type is assigned to each enchantment - so you may have potions of healing in one game, but only armours of healing in another.

Discoveries at the start of the game. Here you
can see all the different possible enchantments.

And this is an end-game Discoveries screen.
That armour of death might sound strange, but
it was crucial to my survival at one point.

The item type also influences in what way you can use the enchantment. Wand of teleportation can be zapped at any creature you see. Potion of teleportation can be drunk to teleport yourself, while a scroll of teleportation will teleport every adjacent monster. Sword of teleportation will sometimes teleport struck enemies away. Armour of teleportation will also sometimes teleport attackers away, but may also randomly teleport you. Some items are very useful, some are double-edged or situational, but you will need them all to survive.

Ogres, giant beetles, lizards and pixies?
I'm sure this floor will be alright.

Or not? Whew, that one was really close.

Anyway, you can read the development and release thread of this game here, if you're interested, and once again, play it here. And if you win, let me know, because I keep dying just short of the final floor.

Yeah, floor 23 of 26. It went so well until the nymphs
stole my sword and wands, then surrounded me
without a way to escape or kill them fast enough.

Happy hacking and don't die!

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