December has been a fantastic month for the Nintendo eShop. From game of the year contenders such as SteamWorld Heist to solid fun like Minecraft and FAST Racing NEO, there have been plenty for Nintendo users to enjoy. Now, the last major eShop release of 2015 is ChudChud Industries’ Temple of Yog, an intriguing rogue-like that takes advantage of the Wii U’s dual-screen setup.
The titular temple has both a light and shadow world a la A Link to the Past. Temple of Yog displays this to the player by showing off the light world on the television while the shadow world is relegated to the Wii U GamePad. It’s an interesting setup, and one that divides the player’s attention. You only take damage in the world you are currently in, but it’s still important to know what dangers await on the opposite screen so that you know when it’s safe to go between them. It’s also worth noting that you can still play the game on just one screen (off-screen play works fine), but you really lose what makes Temple of Yog interesting.
Temple of Yog will feel instantly familiar to anyone who has played a dual-stick shooter. Players aim, and shoot, their magic attacks by using the right analog stick while they move with the left stick. It’s a basic setup, and one that makes the combat feel satisfying. Additional depth is added to what is otherwise a very simple control scheme by allowing players to morph into the other worlds, and use special abilities by using the GamePad’s triggers.
As its name implies, this is a dungeon crawler that has you roaming from floor to floor. Players will quickly find it necessary to morph into both worlds since the level’s exit can be located on either world. There is also some light puzzle solving in figuring out how to get around the dungeon floors as you’ll often need to morph into the shadow world in order to reach an area that was sectioned off on your television.
Since this is a rogue-like, potential buyers should know that they will end up dying. A lot. Temple of Yog is a difficult game, and is definitely a grind. In fact, the game is very up-front with this and calls each playable character a sacrifice. Your initial mission won’t be clearing the temple, rather you’re just trying to gain enough experience to purchase new skill points for future characters. Similar to Rogue Legacy, it ends up being an enjoyable grind, and your progress will continue to improve as you play more of it.
There are four different classes in the game (warrior, mage, cleric and thief) to choose from, each with their own special abilities and stats. I mainly used the warrior class, which I found to be the most balanced class for my play-style. The warrior’s special ability is a powerful attack that hits several times in a short time-span. I found it to be especially useful when I was cornered by enemies, and it often helped me quickly get rid of a bad situation.
Each character can also equip an item while they are inside the massive temple. These items range from navigation-based ones such as a compass that points you towards each level’s exit, to others that affect the classes’ predetermined stats. For example, if you like the Cleric’s special ability of being able to heal himself, but hate that he moves slowly then you can equip boots that up his speed. Overall, there are six different items which are found inside the temple itself, so there are several ways to vary how you play.
Like most rogue-like games, Temple of Yog features procedurally generated levels. It’s definitely a necessary component since playing through the exact same layouts would get boring quickly, but it does run into some problems as a result. However, I would sometimes end up spawning in the same exact location of the enemy, or start taking damage immediately after entering a floor. These quirks were frustrating, for sure, but never game breaking.
What is unforgivable, though, is that occasionally the game would generate levels that couldn’t be completed. This happened very rarely, but it’s frustrating to have to sacrifice yourself while alive instead of dying from enemies. The reason why games like Spelunky and Nuclear Throne continue to have an active user-base is because they are difficult, but ultimately fair to the player. If you die, you messed up. It’s the key component to any rogue-like, and it’s the one area where Temple of Yog couldn’t afford to fail in.
It’s also worth mentioning that this is actually an episodic game, despite not being distributed through the traditional method. There are three more parts to come, which will all be released as free updates for current owners while the base game’s price goes up as more parts are added. This means that a lot of the issues that we’ve encountered can be fixed in the future. That certainly doesn’t give them a pass, though.
In its current state, Temple of Yog definitely shows a lot of promise. It has a fair share of issues that hopefully will be fixed in the planned updates, but even with those present, it’s still a fun diversion. It also works especially well on the Wii U, where you can’t find better rogue-likes such as Nuclear Throne.
This review is based on the Nintendo Wii U exclusive, with which we were provided with.
While it doesn't fulfill its initial promise, Temple of Yog is still a unique rogue-like that you can't find on any other console. If you're a Wii U owner, you owe it to yourself to check out one of the few games that actually takes advantage of the GamePad.