If you like playing BlackJack and the idea of combining the classic card game with a rogue-like dungeon crawler sounds appealing, you need to try RogueJack.
The game is an old school eight-bit dungeon crawler, but every time you get into a tussle with an enemy, you face off against them in a hand of Blackjack. In the later parts of the title, enemies take more damage, so you may need to play more than one hand to take them down.
The goal of RogueJack is to make it as deep as possible in the dungeon. So far, I’ve made it to floor 19, and I’m really hoping there is something fun on floor 21 once I reach it.
The game also uses Rogue-like mechanics, which means that you restart at the beginning of the dungeon to make another attempt every time you die. There’s an altar that transports you to the deepest floor you’ve discovered, and when you fail, you can watch an ad for three more lives once per attempt.
When I first started the game, I found myself using the altar a lot, but as I’ve made it to deeper floors, I find I utilize it less since transporting straight to floor 19 without a weapon or shield is perilous.
How to play
What makes each run through the RogueJack unique is that every floor features a different layout with varying enemies and items to use. Each enemy also plays Blackjack in slightly different ways, making some enemies more formidable than others.
For example, the Rat plays both of its cards face up and never draws any cards. On the other hand, the goblin has two health points, hides one of its cards, and stays on 16, making it much tougher to beat.
You can also find a variety of weapons like the ‘Frostblade’ that does one point of damage but has the chance to freeze an enemy for a turn so you can run around them. There are other more powerful weapons to discover, including some that even allow you to see specific cards before you draw them. Your character always carries one weapon and one shield. The shield gives you an extra life or two, so they’re super important to find.
The only thing that carries over through each run through the dungeon is your character’s level. This includes things like your max health, how many cards you can draw from and if some of these cards will be face up or not. For example, the level two character gets to see the card they draw before they take it, but they only get one card to choose from. To compare, my level six character gets to select from three cards, but there’s only a 50 percent chance they’ll be face up.
Perfectly simple game design
The art style and music are also very retro, giving this game a timeless feel as you venture through its endless dungeons. As you progress deeper, the walls change colour and the texture of the ground changes a bit, but overall it’s a straightforward design that still looks great. I would have liked to see a few more enemy models, but that doesn’t really detract from the overall experience.
Another plus is that RogueJack is super easy to play with one hand. The main screen has a consistent directional pad at the bottom of the display, and to play Blackjack, you tap on the card you want to draw or tap on the rest of the screen to stay. Since the game is this simple to play, I find myself pulling it out super often to squeeze in a few more floors in my quest to the 21st floor.
RogueJack is free to download on iOS and Android, but you’ll need to watch a 30-second ad to revive yourself and to access treasure chests. That said, you can pay $2.79 on iOS and $2.59 on Android to get rid of the ads. I don’t find the ads intrusive, but since I like it so much, I may spend the $3 to support the developer since I feel like this game is worth that much.
You can also download RogueJack on Steam for $5.69.