The clock is ticking down. If I don't knock out this sub boss in the next few seconds, then the portal will close and I'll have to trawl through the dungeon again.
Not that I'm that bothered. Another run means more gold, more new cards, and more experience. The seconds fall away. A blue beam surrounds me and I'm spirited away before I can land a killing blow.
Storm Casters is a roguelike with a twist. Several twists, in fact. And it blends them together to create something a little more casual, a little more accessible, and a little more welcoming than your average dungeon crawler.
Some might find it a little too cute, and some might find it a little too simple. But there's a huge chunk of game here that, while it isn't as deep as the likes of Wayward Souls, offers a lot more than your first glance might suggest.
You play a young wizard who's thrown into a conflict with a huge horde of monsters. You stomp around using a stick in the bottom left of the screen, and fire out blasts of magical energy with a button on the right.
When you pick up a bomb another button pops up to let you set it off. Zelda-style hearts mark out your health, and that ever present ticking clock counts down your time.
If you run out of seconds or die you still reap the rewards of your jaunt in the dungeon. Gold can extend your timer and increase the power of your attacks. XP Increases your level, and every new level brings its own rewards.
You dash through randomly generated lairs, shooting everything that moves, grabbing loot, and trying to make it to the boss battle that rounds each of the sections off. Defeat the boss, open the next chunk of game.
Lightning at the end of the tunnel
Each time you play you collect new cards. These are special weapons, buffs, boosts, and other accoutrements that help you on your quest. You can have three of these equipped every time you venture out.
The three you get are selected at random, although you can spend some of your gold to shuffle the deck and get a different trio. Some are passive, granting better loot drops or weaker enemies.
Others are hefty special weapons that you find as you play. There are magical shotguns, flame throwers, and thunder-based rocket launchers.
The extra oomph the pickups give you can sometimes be a mixed blessing. Do you jog back to pick one up, or sprint onwards as your time slides away?
There's a deal of grind here, as you'd expect, and anyone looking for a melee-based game will be disappointed by the arcade blasting the game offers.
There are plenty of IAPs as well, and while you can mitigate them by putting some time in, they do feel a little excessive in a game you've already paid for.
Still, the new ideas that Storm Casters throws into the genre more than make up for its foibles. The ticking clock adds a frantic element, especially early on, and the card battler aspects add an extra level of depth.
It's not perfect, but it's a much more open roguelike than some of the more hardcore examples of the genre we've seen lately.
If you're not prepared to die, but you want to experience most of what roguelikes have to offer, then you could do a lot worse than picking up Storm Casters.