Roguelike with several twists!
Stoneshard: Prologue serves as a demo and mini-prequel to the roguelike RPG of the same name. You wake up in a prison inhabited by undead and other beasts. It's a fight for survival as you contend with monsters, traps and your own well-being while trying to make it out alive...
The game features a pixel art style and a dark atmosphere, both of which are wonderfully executed. From the environmental features of crumbling ruins to the richly-detailed inventory items (which for some reason remind me of the old HeroQuest boardgame), I absolutely love how this game looks.
Stoneshard: Prologue adds extra danger to the typical roguelike experience via a handful of injury types and a sanity trait. Some wounds can be healed using certain medicines, but doing so runs the risk of side effects. There doesn't seem to be as many psychological quirks as those found in Darkest Dungeon, but the physical ailments alone are probably challenge enough.
Though obtaining gear is largely left up to RNG, character options are mostly up to player choice. Skill points allow you to mix and match abilities to suit your style of play with little restriction. The prologue makes it seem like magic is a premium commodity as you must acquire a spell book to begin learning fire magic. I'm not sure if this holds true of the full game or not, but that discussion isn't really relevant here. It's at least worth mentioning for those thinking about buying Stoneshard though, with my suggestion that (like with any game) you should do a little research.
As a fan of roguelikes in general, I'm no stranger to a wide variety of outcomes each run. I've seen a lot of crazy scenarios take place in these games that - for the most part - is due to RNG. Stoneshard: Prologue is no exception, but the way it plays out in this title feels a little off, and I think I know why.
While the bulk of the game is procedurally generated (as is the way of the genre), the beginning and end areas are static, save for some slight variance in loot. I get that the prologue is trying to tell a tale while also showcasing some of what the full game will have to offer, but it's just awkward and a little jarring. It's possible to balance consistency and randomness to a working extent, but it takes effort, finesse and testing. Frankly speaking, Stoneshard: Prologue could use just a little more of each it wants to get closer to that balance.
For starters, I recommend making sure players aren't dropped into a no-win situation the moment they enter a new floor. This ended up being a problem for me at least twice out of roughly six runs, with the only door leading to a small army ready to turn me into paste. Even randomly generated tabletop games have found ways to start slow and ramp up the difficulty within one dungeon level, it's not hard to do.
Even the procedural generation of decor was a bit questionable and in need of some tweaking. I encountered so many furniture items (e.g., shelves and chests) unable to be looted due to the placement of other random clutter that it became a running joke during the stream.
Worst of all, you don't get to experience any of Stoneshard's more unique aspects being toted, such as its followers system. It leaves me wondering what the point of the prologue is and if it would've been better to had just gone with a limited demo in the first place.