You might remember, just over a year ago, Size Five Games' promising The Swindle being 'put on hold' and 'taking a hiatus', and other euphemisms for 'it's bloody dead'. Well, turns out it's not bloody dead: The Swindle is back, and with a new leap in its step. Rather than being described as "Sonic the Hedgehog crossed with Deus Ex”, it's now more "Spelunky crossed with Deus Ex”, and you can tell that developer Dan Marshall used to be a games journalist can't you.
It seems procedural generation was the secret ingredient that finally makes The Swindle pop. Marshall's cut a lot of stuff out from the previous version, and added procgen and permadeath—the result is sort of a roguelike, but not quite. Marshall goes into more detail in this blog post.
"The idea is that you play yourself, up in your Airship, running your little Thieving Empire. Like in Syndicate! The guys running around the levels are thieves for hire. If a thief dies or is caught, you hire a new one. The thieves are randomly generated as well, so when you’ve got a really cool-looking thief with a badass name and a load of experience, and they die on a heist, it’s completely gutting. Like in XCOM!"
"It’s a bit like a Roguelike, but I’m still currently undecided as to how Roguelikelike it’ll be. At the moment, the game feels more like an RPG – you upgrade your thieves by buying upgrades. When they die, those upgrades stick with you. I suspect the game will be better if upgrades are cheaper, but you lose them if your thief dies. It’s one of the things I’m still working on, and will require a lot of testing."
It sounds a bit like a roguelite, like Rogue Legacy, which would be fine with me—I'm liking the Victoriana steampunk look of the trailer, too. There's no firm date or announced platforms yet, but "PC is a good bet", and Dan's hoping to release it early next year.