Classic: Egoboo

By: Guest Reviewer

On: June 6th, 2009


[This is a guest review by The Purple Squerkle.]

Egoboo is a dungeon-crawling action RPG first released in 1999 by Aaron Bishop. After his brother Ben convinced him to release it as open source, the game began to enjoy quite a bit of development thanks to a willing community. It’s had its ups and downs, but currently the game is being developed at a fairly steady rate. Though sometimes gaps between stable versions can be a bit long, the in-development beta version can be accessed through a subversion repository, which is updated any time a change is made.

The original idea of Egoboo was to create a game like Nethack, but in real time and with 3D graphics. Although most of the gameplay resembles a typical ARPG, there are a lot of subtle aspects that are reminiscent of roguelikes (and Nethack in particular). There are quite a few strange secrets and “Easter eggs”; discovering a couple of these can even result in unlocking an extra class to play as in addition to the eight you can normally choose from.

To start the game, you must choose a class and beat a “starter module” before you can go out into the game’s main dungeons. These modules will help you become familiar with the specific abilities of the class you chose, and require you to apply strategies that will help you use your character more effectively in the future.
After you beat the starter module, you are ready to play through the main game. The main series of modules consists of seven dungeons (two of them are divided into two separate halves, so there are actually nine in total). Once you beat one, you will be able to play through the next, and you are always welcome to go back to modules you have already completed. There is also a small town that is available from the beginning and a larger city that is unlocked later on. You can visit these peaceful areas to purchase more gear. There are also a few NPCs who will send you on side quests, most of which will culminate in the discovery of rare and useful loot.

You can play through most of the game with up to four players (on the same machine) using the keyboard, mouse, and joysticks. The only exceptions to this are starter modules and a few side quest dungeons that are only available for one player. (Many of the modules that can only be played by one person do include AI-controlled companions, though.)

Most modules consist of playing through until you find a boss monster, then defeating it. The game isn’t all hack and slash, though; there are also puzzle elements every once in a while that make the game feel a little bit like something from the Zelda series.

Egoboo is still a little rough around the edges, and some people may be turned off by its graphics, which look a little like something from the N64 era. But beneath the questionable exterior lies a very charming game with unique style, solid gameplay, and a fair amount of depth. It’s definitely worth checking out, especially if you’re a fan of ARPGs or Zelda-esque adventures. Be on the look out for when the next version is released in a few days; it should have quite a bit of new content.

  • Hemebond

    It’s not the graphics that prevent me from playing Egoboo; they quite good. It’s the absolutely terrible control/camera system. These make the game a pain to play.

  • King

    I agree, I hope he fixes them in the next release.

  • Xion

    I remember enjoying this muchly (didn’t realize it was that old though) but I couldn’t figure out how to advance past the first area(s)/kept dying in the first area(s).

    But yeah, the camera is pretty whack. Rest of the game is sweet though. Re-getting.

  • Skofo

    Hey, I had an idea for something similar to this! I was excited to check it out.

    However, this turned out disappointing. The controls and camera are horrible. Fix them!

  • ngajoe

    Concur with all previous threads about control scheme & camera–I want to play it, but the control is just too poor.

  • drugon

    Well, in last release controlling of camera is much better than earlier. In any case – camera (and not only the camera) in SoulFu is better. ^_^ Unfortunately SoulFu now is almost dead, but development of Egoboo is continuing (can’t wait, than will be released stable version with hot-seat).

  • Xion

    Playing the new version, the camera is actually much more manageable than I recall. The interface in general is, in fact. Still annoying but not unplayable.

  • leinir

    It’s funny how everybody here are going “Fix them!” as if the game was some closed source thing… You know, everybody here is free to help out ;)

  • Eclipse

    Also Aaron Bishop doesn’t actually develop egoboo from years. He did another game called SoulFu that’s like Egoboo spiritual sequel and then nothing more.

  • Krux

    there is a sequel to egoboo it is called “secret of Ultimate Legendary Fantasy Unleached” or Soulfu.

  • r13

    I remember playing this in the beginning of 2000 and I can’t get used to controls and camera. I’ve downloaded it some months ago and the controls were still terrible. So I’ll just stick to Nethack.

  • Paul Jeffries

    “some people may be turned off by its graphics, which look a little like something from the N64 era”

    As opposed to most independent games featured on here which look like something from the SNES era?

  • dgs

    love the game for the first sight

    I like the graphics when it is not too complicated that I can learn from it
    and try to make it my self.

  • Paul Eres

    “As opposed to most independent games featured on here which look like something from the SNES era?”

    i think it’s a matter of 2d done well vs 3d done poorly. i’d prefer to see well-done 2d over poorly done 3d, even though poorly done 3d chronologically came after well-done 2d.

  • The Purple Squerkle

    Personally, I don’t have any problems with the graphics, but I’ve heard a lot of complaints about them.
    I suppose a lot of the reason people don’t like 3D that looks outdated and do like 2D that looks outdated (even something that looks like it came out of the Atari 2600 era) is that there’s a nostalgia factor for the 2D stuff so it has what some people might call “retro appeal”… whereas 3D is still too new to be seen that way.
    That’s just a guess, though. The reasons are probably different for each individual.

    …Also, I forgot to mention (though someone already mentioned this) that Aaron is no longer involved with the development of this game. He made another game a little more recently called Soulfu. It was promising, but incomplete. It’s also a pain to work with, so nobody has had the stamina to try developing it further and Aaron himself said he’s done with it. He also says he won’t be making any more games, but he said that after Egoboo, too…

    Anyhow, that said: It’s more a matter of “they need to fix this” than “he needs to fix this”… Also, it’s open source and help is always appreciated, so if you think you can do better, go for it.

  • The Purple Squerkle

    Also, something that might make the controls more manageable:

    The camera rotating keys/buttons will also turn your character if you’re walking. I use W, A, S, and D for movement and Q and E for camera rotation (/character turning), and that works fine for me.

  • raigan

    Yeah, I don’t see what’s wrong with the graphics — they’re pretty great; Mario64 has aged a lot better than most PS1 games.

    I forget what it’s called, but there’s a game on XBLA that’s very similar to Egoboo, except not as fun..

  • sandman

    Sorry to ask, but when does this classics week end? I’m just curious as to when we’ll see some new games or news related to new games. Thanks.

  • Derek

    A week generally lasts 7 days.

  • Nyogtha

    Hehe ^

    Anyway, this looks pretty cool. I recall hearing about this a while back, but never bothered to check it out. Plus, I love N64-style graphics!

  • Cobalt

    I think that the graphics could be really good-looking with the whole low-poly thing. Has anyone here played Kirby: The Crystal Shards? It’s a good example of delicious low-poly, albeit with some 2D mixed in. I think that Egoboo’s graphics mostly need aesthetic rather than technical loves.

    @raigan: Mario used a lot of Goraud (I think that’s what it’s called) shading and has filtered textures. The PlayStation isn’t capable of filtered textures from what I’ve heard. Thus, nasty distortion and pixelation ensues.

  • raigan

    True, but Mario64 also had an aesthetic/style that was sort of cartoony, rather than just trying to be photorealistic (like Syphon Filter or Driver or whatever).

  • AoD

    Fantastic game.
    PurpleSquerkle basically said it all, so I don’t have much to add. But, if you want to help out, are having trouble, or just wanna come make some new friends, come down to the forums at !
    Also – SoulFu is not a sequel to Egoboo.
    It is, however, a fantastic game.

  • Eclipse

    Mario64 has awful graphics, also PS1 had bilinear filtering and gouraud shading and almost ALL the platformers on PS1 looks A LOT better than mario64.
    Just compare mario64 and Spyro, there’s no story. Spyro had a fully texturized character with facial animations.
    Mario’s body wasn’t texturized, only flat colors, it wasn’t also skinned. As the model is done putting together different pieces (just look at the arms, it seems like a puppet)

    If you want something with real good graphics on N64, that’s Conker, but let Mario64 alone, technically wise it was a piece of shit, also because was one of the first titles.