Can you rock out harder than a demon can? Power Chord is a roguelike deck-builder that invites you to rock on, rage against your foes, and land right back where you started when it's all over. You'll have to face the music, so to speak, as making the tiniest mistake can make or break your whole run.
The music-themed aesthetics for Power Chord make each randomly generated level a sight for sore eyes, complete with the spray-paint-infested UI and the background music that will make you bang your head to the beat. The artwork for characters is simply stunning - you might even be tempted to ogle at them for a good full minute before you get back to the intensity of a battle.
And yes, the matches really are as adrenaline-pumping as the background score. Power Chord has all the elements fans of the genre love about roguelikes, from the exhilaration of barely making it out alive to the devastation of losing all your hard-earned progress just because of a simple miscalculation. Every move counts here because rest stops are few and shops are scarce.
You'll have to make your way through hordes of enemies, with the occasional "question mark" level that can either grant you a bane or a boon on your run. Each enemy you defeat can reward you with more cards to add to your deck, gear items you can equip, plus the money you can spend on shops if you're lucky enough to land on one. The goal is to reach the big boss and defeat him to unlock more characters.
You'll start off with four characters that have their own build. Defensive Drummers keep your squishier bandmates protected with shields, while Focused Guitarists deal devastating damage to foes. Support Singers add useful buffs to your team, and Destructive Bassists provide AOE damage to the entire enemy team. The first four band members available are Bor Ironcast, Shinobi 13, Grimnir Brawlfist, and Stitch.
Each card you play during battle consumes Charges, so you'll have to strategize whether to prioritize defense and live to fight another round or go on the offensive to eliminate your opponents in a flash. You can see a preview of your enemy's moves in the next round, so you should always think ahead to get the upper hand.
Visuals are gorgeous and character art is simply eye-candy, but the lack of a narrative really dulls its appeal for me.
While the roguelike mechanics of the game did get me hooked (as any roguelike should), it just feels like it's all been done before, particularly since there's no real story here. I've always been a narrative-driven gamer, and I appreciate all the little texts and backstories for characters no matter what the genre. In Power Chord, the enemies do have little snippets of descriptions, which can even be humorous at times. But it's just a shame that we never really see anything else beyond that - I would've liked to know more about them, and why you're even going stage-to-stage battling demons in the first place.
The game thrusts you into battle right off the bat, with no premise or overarching narrative whatsoever. Sure, it's a battle of the bands against demons for some reason. The thing is, roguelike deck-builders are a dime a dozen these days, and if shiny visuals are all you have to set yourself apart from everybody else, then I just don't think that'll be enough to make a game last. I even played something extremely similar just last week titled Indies' Lies, which, to be honest, is way more engaging simply because there's a main campaign and a whole bunch of character stories you can unlock as you go through the levels.
Power Chord | Final Thoughts
Overall, Power Chord really will keep you busy for a good hour or so - it definitely hits that sweet spot between being on the verge of rage-quitting and feeling invincible after every battle. Visuals are gorgeous and character art is simply eye-candy, but the lack of a narrative really dulls its appeal for me.
By the way, I did encounter a few inconveniences here and there - sometimes, the thought bubble that shows an enemy's next move can block the thought bubble of another enemy, which will keep you from seeing the description of what that enemy's about to do. It's a minor inconvenience, but it can really affect your match if you can't stay two steps ahead of your foe.
I certainly hope that a story will be added later on at some point, because otherwise, if all I can get from this game is the exhilaration of a good roguelike mechanic, then there are other options out there that are better worth my time.
TechRaptor previewed Power Chord on Steam with a copy provided by the publisher.