Escorial is a broughlike – that is, a roguelike in the style of Michael Brough‘s roguelikes (868-HACK, imbroglio, Cinco Paus to name a few). Basically, they’re de-constructed roguelikes on small grids, focused on mechanics that make you think about your position in a chess-like way. Well, most of them are anyway. Genre definitions are tricky!
It’s worth saying that Michael did not coin this term himself, and does find it a bit weird –
Well, whatever we want to call them, I think it’s really fantastic to see more people making games in this genre. There’s a lot of cool design space here waiting to be explored, as Escorial demonstrates!
It’s kinda built around what I think of as the “Super Crate Box” mechanic – in order to make progress, you need to change your current powers and adapt to new ones, while your enemies get tougher and tougher. Here, you have not one, but three powers to consider, which makes the moment-to-moment gameplay an interesting mix of short and long term planning, as you try to figure out which power you need to swap out, and which you need to hold on to as long as possible. It’s a lot of fun!
Escorial starts out pretty slow, and I admit I bounced off it during my first pass through this year’s seven day roguelike entries. There were a lot of good games released this week! But I found myself coming back to this one again, and again, and again, appreciating the little things it does more and more each time, until eventually it became very clear to me that this was my favourite game of the jam.