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Discovering the Charm of Tape to Tape: How Hockey Meets Roguelike | PAX East 2024

The concept of blending hockey with roguelike elements initially struck me as an odd combination. However, my skepticism was quickly dispelled after experiencing the game Tape to Tape firsthand at PAX East this year. The captivating artwork, engaging gameplay, and the clever integration of roguelike mechanics not only worked well but also elevated the game to one of my top favorites at the event.

One of the first things that caught my eye was the artwork in the game. Speaking with the creative team, they told me all the artwork is hand-drawn 2D art that is placed into a 3D environment. Even the crowd is individually drawn, enhancing the overall uniqueness of each person in the crowd. I was thrilled to see the PAX East logo displayed in the middle of the rink. When I complimented the team on this addition, they mentioned that they had actually added the logo the night before PAX. That was a nice touch for the attendees at the event.

The gameplay in this game is incredibly smooth, reminiscent of classic hockey games from the 90s, with an arcade feel rather than a simulation style. While it includes standards like pass, shoulder blocks, and shots, what sets it apart is the unique special abilities given to each player. For example, the characters I played with had a bullseye ability that allowed them to shoot the puck with incredible force, knocking out opponents in the process, as well as a twirl ability that spun the character around. These special abilities added an element, something that I haven’t seen in hockey games before. There’s even local multiplayer, which I wasn’t expecting.

The aspects I was most eager to see implemented were the rogue-like elements, as I was curious about their execution in this context. Interestingly, the game adopts a more lenient approach to the usual "punishment" seen in traditional roguelikes. Players are given the freedom to choose their path following each event, opting for either a game or a randomized event or scenario. Winning rewards pucks, which can be used to enhance the character's abilities. During my time with the game, I also encountered power-ups that could be allocated to my players, although these bonuses vanished after my run ended.

One particularly fascinating feature is the creation mode. In this mode, I had the opportunity to build new teams, select logos and colors, and even design a new player. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to dedicate as much time as I would have liked to the feature, but I was pleasantly surprised to see this included in the game.

I was thoroughly impressed with my experience with Tape to Tape, so much so that it received one of our Gamerheads Podcast Best of PAX East 2024 awards. Currently available in Early Access on Steam, Tape to Tape showcases great potential and promises an exciting future for hockey enthusiasts.


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