Juicy Realm Review
Published on May 21, 2018
Release Date: May 3, 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Android, PC, iOS (Played on PC)
Developer: SpaceCan Studio
Publisher: X.D. Network
A review copy of Juicy Realm was provided by the publishers.
When people think of roguelikes, many tend to picture a difficult dungeon crawl filled with randomized loot and dozens of unlockable goodies. Titles like Enter the Gungeon and The Binding of Isaac embody these principles leading to a brutal but rewarding experience. Juicy Realm, on the other hand, sets itself apart from more “hardcore” roguelikes by cranking down the overall difficulty to create an enjoyable casual experience.
Brimming with a cute cartoony visual style, each playthrough of Juicy Realmbegins with choosing one of four playable characters. Each one of them starts with a unique weapon and active ability as they start their journey through the forest. Although they differ slightly in their stats and equipment, I found that the characters have too similar of a playstyle and that their active abilities do not really affect how they play throughout the run. The one exception to this is The Ninja; who is able to set themselves apart from the rest of the cast as they are the only character to start with a melee weapon. The sword is relatively unique, as it is the only weapon in the game that can destroy enemy projectiles when attacking. This creates a close-quarters daredevil-like playstyle that differs from the typical run and gun that the game encourages.
On their path to victory, each character will have to fight through a variety of dangerous environments. The game has four different stages each with a unique theme that is visually pleasing to look at as you battle through them. The levels aren’t all sunshine and daisies though, as they each come with unique hazards and foes ready to stop you in your tracks. One note to make is that multiple stages make use of enemies that explode and damage the player after death. It’s an okay game mechanic to include but is somewhat overused and can get annoying over time. The visual effects, although beautiful to look at, can also get in the way. One minor complaint on two of the stages is that cloudy particles can sometimes make it very difficult to see enemy projectiles or even yourself.
What’s a roguelike without an assortment of weapons? Juicy Realm makes use of two weapon types: ranged and melee. Ranged weapons are usually your primary choice as they allow you to take out enemies from a distance. Even though there are some unique and humorous guns to choose from, many of the game’s ranged weapon’s feel too similar. For example, the MP3 and the AK47 are both medium-ranged automatic weapons that shoot projectiles. In other cases, weapons behave the same as standard guns but just fire different looking projectiles. Some melee weapons contain fun and humorous references such as “PlayerUnknown’s Pan” (a reference to the frying pan from PUBG), but they all feel very similar to use except for projectile destroying sword that The Ninja starts with. Overall, the game doesn’t include enough weapons that alter how you play the game, making subsequent playthroughs dull or lackluster.
The most unfortunate part of Juicy Realm is the lack of replayability. Although the different enemies and stage designs add a little flavor, there are far too many constants between playthroughs. First and foremost, the game doesn’t offer the ability to unlock new weapons or characters. This leads to a low incentive for the player to complete the game multiple times or play the game in unusual ways to unlock new things. Next, the bosses for each stage are always the same which results in predictable and repetitive gameplay. Finally, the game’s casual nature is a detriment for anyone looking for a roguelike that they can sink dozens of hours into as it is too easy to complete. I was able to beat the game on the hardest difficulty with all 4 characters in around 3 hours and only died once for my review. Additionally, the game’s difficulty just seems to increase the HP of the enemies which end up making most enemies walking bullet sponges. Even then, if you find the game too hard, Juicy Realmhas a “duo” mode that allows a local friend to hop in and join the fun.
While the gameplay resonates with what roguelike players love and desire, Juicy Realm doesn’t do enough to set itself apart from the competition. It’s easy to tell from a single playthrough that the developers may have spent a little too much on the visual design than the actual mechanics. Still, Juicy Realm is a sweet change of pace from more hardcore roguelikes that warrants a playthrough for those looking for a more casual experience.