Human sacrifice usually comes across as a pretty big deal, but not so in Temple of Yog on the Wii U eShop. Here, the multitude of tributes you send to dungeon-crawly demises seems designed to be as disposable as a bag of crisps, and just as addictive to polish off one by one.
Death is just part of the daily grind in the world of Yog, where players can choose from an endless supply of volunteers from four different clans to enter the dual-planed world and battle monsters for "boon." This is the favour the clans seek through a pact with the temple, trading life for progress. Once the tribute bites it, the boon is delivered and spent like points on upgrading the next fools to step up.
It's all a little bit crazy.
The four clans possess the same fundamental skills, although in varying starter quantities. Each is capable of firing projectiles in all directions using the right control stick while moving with the left, like many twin-stick shooters. The speed and range of these attacks will vary by clan, however.
Each is also capable of transcending into the shadow world for limited spurts of time by holding down the ZR button. See, each field in the temple is actually composed of two; one presented on the TV and the other on the GamePad. Characters can briefly dive into the GamePad-centric shadow world for as long as their Shadow power holds out, having to emerge back into the light world to restore their meters. The layout and enemies of the shadow world are different, but both are always visible. So while transcending can sometimes be a good way to get around or evade enemies, it's worth making sure you don't teleport yourself into something even worse. Overall, it's an interesting and involving use of the GamePad.
Clans also possess special abilities that rely upon a magic meter. Clerics have healing ability, Magi can cast protective bubbles around themselves, Warriors can enter a berserker mode, and Rogues can dash about. Adjusting levels with boon makes each clan largely customisable, but the specials and attack styles will likely lead to individual favourites sooner or later. It does feel just a bit odd, though, that everyone seems to rely on some sort of ranged attack and not really anything in the form of melee.
The whole gist of it is rather simple, though. Pick a fighter, get in there, and start blasting enemies and finding exits until you're kaput. Rinse. Spend boon. Repeat. There are artifacts in the temple world that can give you benefits such as speed boosts and lower shadow meter depletion, and dying while in the possession of one will make it available for equipping for the next tribute at the get go. Obelisks are also scattered about the levels that will award boon for completing certain challenges. Forms of boss creatures can be found as well.
The levels seem randomly placed or generated, which can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. An ever-changing field certainly adds an element of excitement, but it does take a little away from the sense of progression in a physical sense. The points you amass seem much more important. It's also possible sometimes that the game will spit you out right on top of an enemy and kill you before you can even react. This once happened on the very first level of the game. Poor what's-his-name tribute never had a chance.
The controls function quite usefully for the most part. While the right stick can feel a little sensitive for lining up shots, the trade-off comes when you're able to find a sweet spot where a monster is unable to hit you back. Also, the Start button is NOT for pause. It does something else entirely, but you'll instinctively hit it at least twice anyway. T'was a sadistic programmer who assigned that button, and we're not sure whether to buy them an ale for their sheer gumption or crack them over the head with the tankard.
Temple of Yog's graphics are simple, yet harken back to roguelikes of yesteryear. It feels quite fitting for anyone who has a fondness for PC games of old and mixes well with the driving soundtrack. And for all the emphasis on human sacrifice, the atmosphere is more one of slightly dark, harmless humour.
The temple is not easy to run through, but players who like slamming into the same kinds of challenges in search of high scores will likely have a great time here. Developer Chudchud Industries even seems set on showcasing top scores via social media through at least the first few weeks of the game.
For those who more enjoy exploration and discovery, though, there doesn't seem to be a lot to find or a lot of enemy variety - at least initially. Chudchud is running a sales model in the vein of Spin the Bottle: Bumpie's Party, where additional content will be released in the future that is free to those who buy the game now. Otherwise, the price of the game as a whole will increase as more content is added. The potential definitely seems there for a wider, more robust experience, but it's tough to determine what exactly will be delivered at this time.
Temple of Yog can provide a satisfying, arcade-like rush for points and glory, and its use of the GamePad is cleverly implemented. It's certainly worth a look for score attackers and has promise of becoming something even more, but those looking for a deeper experience in their dungeon diving might want to approach with caution (or patience) before deciding to sacrifice their money.