Now, I already knew Let’s! Revolution! was going to be the kind of game I’d be able to play for hours after playing a demo at GDC. But the game truly takes off once you complete your first run. As a hand-drawn beauty of a Minesweeper/roguelike mix, battling my way through every level to reach the tyrant antagonist leads me to unlocking new characters, abilities, and a desire to jump right back in.
But before the triumphant uprising, the game as only one of its six characters unlocked: the Trooper. This melee-focused fighter starts off in the sun-dried Phlox deserts. Overlaying an eye-catching dusty scene of small dwellings watched over by a massive carved ram is a grid of cards. These make up the field of action.
This first level starts small, with less than fifteen face-down cards in total. My task is to flip each of these over to discover a pathway to the cravenly hidden king. But it’s not that simple as enemies line the path cards and running into them unawares will cause me to take damage. I have a little bit of help as the cards without a path on them display a number warning me how many road cards it’s touching.
In the early game, these are nice to have. But as the game goes on and I travel through the dense jungles of Cymbidium and the crowded streets of Beebom City, these numbers become vital lifelines, informing every move I make and helping me to avoid certain death.
I can flip cards simply by stepping on them, though that comes with the risk of tripping over an enemy. The safer way to explore is to attack using the Trooper’s roundhouse kick — which reveals every card surrounding me and deals one damage to any undiscovered foe in its wake — or shooting my long-distance bow. However, there’s a strategy to picking which to use.
My abilities can be governed not only by limited ammo and cooldowns, but by my stamina. The roundhouse kick, for example, is ferocious and its stamina cost is likewise intense. I can regain stamina by flipping over face-down cards, but, like I noted above, I don’t want to stumble into a baddie. Moving my character or taking an action also triggers my enemies’ timers to go down a tick. Hitting zero means revealed soldiers get to do whatever they’ve been planning and there’s nowhere to hide from the damage.
Because of its roguelike nature, any damage I take along my path to revolution can be the difference between winning or losing a run as I have no guarantee of healing. This makes even the smallest battles tense and the larger ones adrenaline-pumping.
Shops are an absolute windfall when I find them hiding under a card. Chovy’s Shop offers boosts to health, stamina, and a handy inventory of items for gold, which I earn by defeating the king’s men. The Smith lets me pick up a new skill, like the ability to leap across the board or gain more money every round, whereas Gemma’s Gym allows me to upgrade one of my current abilities.
I never know exactly what combination of boons I’ll be able to pick up in a run, but, so far, I’ve found all of them useful. Sometimes during a game I run into green gems. Unlike gold coins, I can’t spend these in a shop. Instead, the viridescent stones act as my experience points between runs, unlocking new recruits for the cause and previously unseen movesets for current characters.
Let’s! Revolution! melds two very odd concepts, but the strategy inherent in Minesweeper works astonishingly well as a roguelike. The popping visuals are icing on the cake and I keep coming back for more.