As a speedrunning enthusiast who thrives on precision and optimization, my relationship with the roguelike genre is somewhat conflicted. Roguelike games like “Barony” are often defined by their randomness, brutality, and complex systems. This can conflict with my preference for mastery and predictability. However, Barony managed to surprise me with its nostalgic charm, intricate gameplay, and ability to continually challenge and reward its players.

Dungeon-Crawling Adventure

Barony boils down to a dungeon-crawling adventure where death is not just an ending but a learning experience. The game features perma-death, cryptic dungeons, and zero handholding. This puts your problem-solving abilities and adaptability through rigorous testing. The procedurally generated dungeons mean that no two playthroughs are the same, keeping you on your toes with each run.

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Challenging Combat and Diverse Classes

The game’s combat is straightforward yet unforgiving. You’ll need to master timing and tactics to survive vicious monsters, avoid deadly traps, and leverage legendary treasures and magical artifacts. Each of the 13 classes offers a unique playstyle, from the familiar warrior and wizard to the unconventional sexton and joker. This variety provides numerous strategic options.

Nostalgic Visuals

Visually, Barony evokes a strong sense of nostalgia for fans of classic dungeon crawlers. Its pixelated graphics and dark, atmospheric environments strike a deliberate balance between charm and eerie mystique. While the retro aesthetic may not appeal to everyone, it feels like revisiting an old friend for those who grew up on classics like Ultima Underworld and Daggerfall.

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Simple but Effective Storyline

The storyline is relatively simple but effective. You’ve entered the Barony of the vile lich Baron Herx, whose curse has devastated the town of Hamlet. As daring adventurers, your task is to confront the devious dungeons and restore hope to the people. While the plot isn’t particularly groundbreaking, it sets the stage for intense and strategic gameplay.

Cooperative Multiplayer and Active Community

One of Barony’s standout features is its cooperative multiplayer. It supports 1-4 players via split-screen, internet play, and crossplay with other platforms. Teaming up with friends makes the challenging dungeons more manageable and adds an enjoyable social dynamic. The ability to haunt or help your party as a ghost after death adds a clever twist to cooperative play.

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Additionally, the game’s ongoing free updates and active community are significant strengths. The developers’ dedication to improving and expanding the game shows in regular content releases and community engagement, keeping the game fresh and exciting.

Potential Drawbacks

Despite its many strengths, Barony isn’t without its flaws. The game’s steep learning curve and brutal difficulty may be off-putting for some players, especially those new to the roguelike genre. The randomness can sometimes feel more frustrating than rewarding, particularly when you fall victim to traps or powerful enemies that seem unfairly placed by the RNG gods.

Additionally, while the pixelated graphics are charming, they can sometimes make distinguishing between different items and enemies challenging, leading to potential confusion during heated moments.

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Final Thoughts

Barony offers a challenging, nostalgic, and deeply rewarding experience for fans of roguelike dungeon crawlers. While its high difficulty and randomness might not appeal to everyone, those who persevere will find a rich and engaging game that pays homage to its classic RPG roots. If you’re up for the challenge and appreciate deep RPG systems with lots of loot, Barony is well worth diving into.

With its cooperative multiplayer mode, ongoing updates, and a passionate developer team, Barony stands out in the roguelike genre. However, the steep learning curve and sometimes frustrating randomness prevent it from earning a higher rating. For dedicated roguelike fans and those with a penchant for retro RPGs, Barony is a solid choice that provides plenty of thrills and challenges.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Recommended For: Roguelike fans, retro RPG enthusiasts, and players looking for a challenging cooperative multiplayer experience.

Gaming Tip for Beginners: Focus on learning the strengths and weaknesses of each class. Experimenting with different playstyles will help you find the one that suits you best and increases your chances of survival.

Want to check it out yourself? Click here to see it on Steam.