Tape to Tape: A Stunning Hockey Roguelite – PC Review
As a fan of hockey, looking for a good representation of the sport has been challenging. Despite games like NHL offering a somewhat fun version, the itch for a more innovative and ambitious hockey video game experience has gone unsatisfied. That was, of course, until I played Tape to Tape, which not only beautifully captures what I love about hockey “Go Canucks!”, but also offers a truly unique interpretation of the sport. With its engrossing roguelite-twist, strategic gameplay and stunning visuals, Tape to Tape is easily one of the best sports games I have ever played.
Developed by a small passionate team, Tape to Tape offers an immersive experience that captivates players from start to finish. It begins by allowing you to craft your own team and embark on a thrilling journey through a beautifully designed hockey world. Every decision you make has a significant impact on your quest to restore the sport to its former glory. From hiring unique players to managing your benchwarmers and selecting new abilities, Tape to Tape puts you in control of creating an unbeatable team.
Tape to Tape Merges Hockey with Roguelite Elements
The gameplay of Tape to Tape seamlessly blends contemporary precision with the high-energy action reminiscent of the 90s. It encompasses all the elements you would anticipate from a typical hockey game: bone-crushing body checks, breathtaking saves, and a gratifying replay system that allows you to witness the ball soaring into the net. In a unique yet necessary twist, pucks can even bounce off the faces of your teammates to score goals, encapsulating the true essence of hockey. What sets Tape to Tape apart is its incorporation of roguelite mechanics, which elevates the game in every aspect.
During your journey through each act, you are confronted with choices among various landmarks on the map, and once a decision is made, there is no turning back. This format echoes the familiar structure found in dungeon roguelite games. In the intervals between matches, you are faced with choices involving random Events, Training sessions to enhance your stats, and even friendly matches or Challenges that allow you to play for pride rather than elimination.
It’s important to note that the consequences of your decisions in Tape to Tape are permanent, and sometimes they may not work in your favour. For instance, a random event might require you to sacrifice one of your players to obtain a mini-version of your Superstar. This mini-version possesses lower stats than the original, and results in two identical players, for better or worse. Fortunately, most of the events offer positive benefits to players, but this intriguing feature will always keep you guessing and add an element of amusement to the game.
“You can even fart to knock the puck and a player away.”
In addition, Tape to Tape introduces the concept of Artefacts and Skills, which fundamentally alter the way the game is played. Artefacts consist of passive abilities strategically designed to benefit the player. These can range from faster countdown timers when in the lead to receiving double power-ups when resting at a camp. While some artefacts may not provide as much advantage, the choice of which ones to utilise is entirely up to the player, akin to other roguelite games.
Skills (in-game abilities) play a crucial role in achieving victory. You can employ a speed boost to swiftly bypass enemies, employ a grappling hook to pull players away from a specific area, and even utilise the unconventional tactic of farting to knock the puck and opposing players away from you.
The possibilities for their usage are practically endless, but it’s important to be prepared for opponents who will also employ their own abilities. Fortunately, this adds to the excitement as each team you face presents a unique challenge, further enhancing the gameplay experience. It also works to your advantage if you seek revenge, as the team that previously defeated you, last run, will eagerly await your return at the exact point where you left them.
At the culmination of each Act in Tape to Tape, you must confront a boss character who, true to their nature, taunts you during the opening dialogue. These bosses use their own set of abilities, aiming to hinder your progress and, in certain situations, even prevent goals from being scored. The Act 1 boss, known as The Officials, features a showdown against the referees themselves. Consequently, you’ll find yourself playing by their rules, with the referees always retaining possession of the puck after a restart, and the match referee actually joining the opposing team as a player you must face.
Naturally, at the beginning of the game, it’s undeniable that your team will suck. There’s no sugarcoating it. However, thanks to the game’s distinctive roguelite nature, losing doesn’t signify the end of the road, although it can still be a frustrating setback.
Following each defeat, you will return to the formidable Blademaster, who permanently enhances various aspects of the game to provide you with a better chance of success in subsequent attempts.
Of course, if you happen to lose right away without securing a single victory, you won’t reap the benefits, as the Blademaster requires pucks, which are typically earned through triumphs. Nevertheless, pucks play a crucial role in improving the main character’s statistics, unlocking new starting Skills, and recruiting secondary characters (or Superstars) who join your team for each playthrough. This progression system adds depth and replayability to the game as you strive to assemble the ultimate dream team and restore hockey to its former glory.
Visually, Tape to Tape is a treat for the eyes. The captivating roguelite hockey world is exquisitely crafted, with meticulous attention to detail evident at every turn. Coupled with a fitting soundtrack and immersive sound effects, the game creates an atmosphere that draws you in, ensuring your complete engagement throughout the entire experience.
While the prevalence of splitscreen multiplayer is dwindling, Tape to Tape wholeheartedly keeps the tradition alive. This indie hockey game allows you to indulge in local multiplayer with up to 4 players, and it even supports Steam remote play. Whether you’re engaging in intense competitive matches against friends or joining forces cooperatively to conquer the campaign, Tape to Tape fills a void often found in many modern games.
Presently, there is little to criticise about the game’s current state. However, it’s important to note that Tape to Tape is currently in Steam Early Access, which leads to discussions regarding the available content. With three main acts, I managed to complete the game in approximately 5 hours, and considering its current price point, it undoubtedly offers substantial value. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to further content updates, and keeping my fingers crossed for additional Acts.
Tape to Tape is a gem among sports games. Its remarkable fusion of roguelite elements and hockey gameplay sets it apart from the ordinary. With its stunning visuals, deep gameplay mechanics, and multiplayer capabilities, this game offers an experience that will leave hockey fans and gamers alike thoroughly satisfied.
*Disclaimer: Previewed on PC, code was provided by PR.