Rogue Legacy Review (PC)
The naming of new genres is not a frequent event in the gaming world, although it is something that occurs over time. Most recently we saw the evolution of DOTA style games in ways in which were so different they were barely comparable, such as Awesomenauts and Monday Night Combat. This forced the new genre of MOBA to encompass all these games (Or ARTS, the battle rages on), and now is the time for Rogue-likes to follow suit. I don’t have a suggestion as to what we should do, but nevertheless it’s something we should collectively think of. Go sleep on it or something!
Rogue Legacy is part of the reason for this. It contains some elements of a Rogue-Like, such as permanent death, (kinda) randomly generated dungeons and unforgiving difficulty. The developer refers to it as a rogue-light, as the gameplay style is completely different from a traditional rogue-like while still being built around these core ideas. The game begins with a knight traveling into a castle and attacking a king, then a second knight returns to the castle some time afterward to find it has become a randomly generated building full of monsters, traps and a massive locked door with odd engravings on it. The story is thin and generally forgetful. It’s told mainly through journal entries found throughout the castle, but they’re not important to the game.
The gameplay is 2D platforming at its best. The main character has to traverse jumping puzzles, spiked floors and hidden routes while fending off hordes of increasingly difficult enemies. It all feels delightfully old-school and successfully scratches that Castlevania itch. As mentioned before however, the game is brutally difficult which is where the most interesting mechanic comes in. Every time you die, that character is dead and their money is passed on to their next of kin. You generally get a choice of 3 descendants to pick from, and each has their strengths and weaknesses. There are a variety of Classes that they might fall into such as Paladin, Miner, Shinobi, Mage, etc but they also have their own genetic differences which can sometimes be beneficial. These differences really set each character apart and forces you on occasion to take bad ones with the good. One of the more useful skills is that some characters are born without blood pressure in their feet, which allows them to walk along spike traps without setting them off, or Hyper Gonadism which causes them to knock back enemies with every hit. There’s also Dwarfism, which allows you to get into smaller places and Savant which causes your characters spell to cycle to a different one every time you cast it.
The good comes with the bad however, and often characters will be born with vertigo which turns the entire game upside down and mirrors all the text making it incredibly difficult to progress, or sometimes characters are born with the inability to feel pain and so the number your healthbar is at is hidden from you, making it impossible to tell how far you are from death. There is a fun mix of good and bad skills that characters can develop that are without a doubt the element that truly sets this game apart from the competition. It’s a smart system which is also used to help bring through the developer’s sense of humour. There are many skills that are just silly and aren’t necessarily good or bad, they’re just funny to have. Tourettes causes your character randomly swear as he explores the castle, while Dyslexia makes menu items, journal entries and even the loading screen completely unreadable. My personal favourite is the Gay skill which as far as I can tell does nothing at all. There’s dozens more of these skills which are all randomly chosen for characters each time you die. It’s a great system that got a few laughs from me while also making me pay attention to character sheets to make sure I wasn’t picking something that would completely ruin my next run.
Not every run into the castle will be to kill all the bosses. Those bosses are tough and so the smart thing to do is to push in and raise as much money as you can from killing monsters and finding chests. Then, upon your death, this money is transferred to your next character who can use it to build up their castle which allows for more skills and health, damage and mana upgrades. I personally found these upgrades to be so minor that they weren’t worth upgrading, but unlocking the Smithy and then spending money on his armour and weapons definitely started making traversing a lot more manageable.
Rogue Legacy has some good ideas, some great ideas and some silly ideas and manages to merge these all together into an incredibly solid platformer that borrows a lot from the Rogue-like genre. It’s something that is not only easy to pick up for a few minutes at a time, but to sit and play for hours on end throwing character after character to their death.
5 Dwarves with Vertigo and IBS out of 5Rogue Legacy Review (PC),