Arboria is a well made souls like roguelite. The core of the game is the combat and it is done exceptionally well. It’s very simple and intuitive to grasp but challenging to master. Arboria also stands out in one other area and that is the very strange narrative trappings and grotesque art style.
The combat of Arboria is very simple. You have one primary weapon and with two attack patterns. You pick up weapons randomly in the dungeon and they can range from very fast swords to slow hammers that deal massive damage. In addition to your primary weapon is a spell. The spells are randomized as well and can be anything from a short range teleport to a shockwave that stuns and damages nearby enemies. There are additional item slots you can unlock through upgrades and those are primarily used for items that give you temporary buffs.
The game does a great job of easing you into the combat. The first level of the dungeon is filled with weak enemies and you usually fight them one on one. As you progress deeper into the dungeon, you fight much tougher opponents. It can get quite difficult handling multiple opponents at the same time but the game’s audio design does a fantastic job of projecting when an enemy will attack as well as giving you a very generous dodge roll.
Once you die, you will return to the surface world to unlock new upgrades and vendors. The pace of progression and significance of the unlocks feel pretty good and does a great job of encouraging you to go back into the dungeon.
As for the narrative of the game, it’s incredibly strange. The pacing and content of the cut scenes as well as the world building are built with comedy in mind. It does come off as a bit weird as some of the bits miss the mark in my opinion but the more I play the game, the more I see a very intentional comedic and quirky design to all the narrative trappings. It reminded me a bit of the Oddworld games. The humor may be hit or miss depending on the player but it definitely does feel unique for better or for worse.
The art style of the game is also incredibly grotesque. The grotesqueness isn’t just limited to the visual art style but also extends to the animations as well. For example, in between floors of the dungeon, you send up your Veri, which is your currency used for upgrades. This is done by your little fairy companion regurgitating it into a receptacle, which is then sent up. The art style definitely leaves a mark.
Overall, Arboria is a competent rogue lite with great combat and progression. The unique narrative trappings and visual art style also make the game stand out. It does have small unique mechanics, such as sacrificing Veri to the gods for a buff in your next run, but at the risk of having the gods require more Veri in order to be appeased. If you don’t have enough Veri, you will be struck with debuffs instead. The game adds these small touches to the already competent core mechanics to create a unique experience.