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Rogue Lords is a tactical roguelike where Hell needs some help

VIDEO: The Rogue Lords trailer from the PC Gaming Show. Also on YouTube.

Cyanide and Leikir Studio's Rogue Lords, just revealed on the PC Gaming Show, finds the Devil in a bit of a bind. The forces of Hell have suffered a big defeat, but ol' Lucifer's still got some tricks up his sleeve—namely eight supernatural legends that owe him a favour, becoming his agents in a dystopian world inspired by 17th century New England. 

Dracula, Bloody Mary, the Headless Horseman, Baron Samedi and the White Lady are among the roster of villains begrudgingly accepting a new gig, though there's only room in the team for three. The Devil likes his squads of evil doers small. 

"As these legends all made a deal with the Devil in the past, they are forced to honour it and team up together," art director Camille Lisoir explains. "The Devil cannot appear physically on Earth, so their Disciples will be their representatives who will act for them, but they are watching everything from Hell and can intervene."

(Image credit: Cyanide Studio)

The Devil is pretty hands-on. Stepping into his hooves, you'll guide your monsters through conversations and fights, pick how they progress and evolve, and even bend the rules of reality to give them the upper hand. It helps that you also know what your enemies are going to do before they do it. 

"In combat, you will always be one step ahead of your opponents by knowing their intent," game designer Sebastien Perouffe says. "You’ll see which kind of skill they are preparing and who they are targeting. That knowledge will allow you to make tactical choices around which enemy you should take off first, which characters to protect and how to counter them."

Your minions don't conform to traditional classes and instead have unique playstyles that draw from the folklore surrounding them. Bloody Mary, for instance, can only prey on vulnerable enemies, attacking the one with the least health, and can replicate any skill she uses with a magical mirror. 

(Image credit: Cyanide Studio)

If the monsters get into trouble, Devil mode sounds like it might come in handy. As the Prince of Hell, your power "trascends the bounds of the game world," says Perouffe, letting you change health bars, RNG and fiddle around with gauges. It's basically like activating a debug mode and cheating your way through a fight. But the mode can only be activated if you've harvested enough souls. 

You'll be fighting a pair of factions that ostensibly work on the side of good, though they might not be entirely above board. Shocking! At least the Devil is upfront about being a dick. There's the Demon Hunters, led by Dracula's old bud, Van Helsing, and the Sanctua Lumen cult, which appears to be responsible for Hell not getting a fresh supply of damned souls. 

"They have a growing influence in the New World," says Lisoir, "pushing people to denounce and arrest the Devil’s creatures, and you have to put an end to this." To be honest, it's probably best for everyone that prisons aren't populated with vampires and other assorted monsters. These curses spread. 

(Image credit: Cyanide Studio)

Rogue Lords is split into story-driven tales that send your minions off to explore a procedurally generated map and eventually fight the tale's boss. It's not all fighting, however, as evil has more than one method to seep into the world. 

Through dialogue choices, you'll be able to pick how you want to corrupt the world. If you come across a farm, for instance, you might choose to burn everything to the ground, but you could also convince the peasants to work for the Devil instead. "You could either try to appeal to their darkest side or make them face their deepest fears if they do not comply," says Perouffe. Not all of your monsters have the gift of the gab, but even the Headless Horseman can help out by scaring the crap out of people.

Dracula and his buds are all far too important to die, but as this is a roguelike there's got to be some failure. When one of your crew is struck with a lethal blow, your own diabolical health meter takes a hit, letting your minion survive at the cost of your own life. When that drops to zero, you're done, losing everything you gained from that run apart from your experience points and global story progression. The Devil lost a war before and recovered, so it's fine. 

You'll be able to send your band of monsters to spread evil throughout the world in 2021. 

Fraser is the sole inhabitant of PC Gamer's mythical Scottish office, conveniently located in his flat. He spends most of his time wrangling the news, but sometimes he sneaks off to write lots of words about strategy games.