Growing up playing video games in the NES and SNES era of video games, side-scrolling platformers were a common type of game to find released. Over time as technology improved 2D games became rarer and 3D games began to become the norm. Today with the upsurge of independent developers 2D games have become very popular again. Some would argue that there is an over abundance of these type of games, and they may have a point. Regardless of that larger argument, I’m looking at one of these type of games today, Rogue Legacy.
There isn’t too much story here. The King is ill and one of your ancestors, the Knight Johannes (who you play as for the tutorial/flashback), goes to the Castle Hamson to find the cure for the King. You wind up playing as the descendents of the King and Knight Johannes to unravel the mystery of the castle and to try regain the previous fortune of your family that was decimated upon entry into the mysterious Castle Hamson.
Really there isn’t too much story to the game though. You’ll run into journals throughout the game that talks about the journey of Johannes through the castle, and it’s interesting and changes a bit of the implications behind going into the castle in the first place, but doesn’t really alter your actions at all.
Rogue Legacy is considered a roguelike platformer. The roguelike elements come out in two prominent features of the game. First, the Castle Hamson is randomly generated, the setup of the castle will not be the same unless you use the architect NPC to keep the castle the same for a fee. While this doesn’t change the types of monsters you’ll find it changes the layout and traps that make up the castle. This can make quite a bit of difference sometimes on how far you can get in the castle.
The second feature that draws from roguelike and is a backbone of the game is permanent death and the heir system of the game. When you die in the game, and trust me you will die, your character is dead for good. You then have to pick a son or daughter of the character that just played.
These potential heirs are random and come from a pool of different classes like knight, mage, or assassin. In addition to picking from various classes each heir will have certain traits. These traits could be useful like ADHD which increases your move speed, negative like Alzheimer’s which removes your ability to look at your map, or purely cosmetic like color-blind which changes the colors of the game to greyscale. There are a number of combinations and can make the game easier or more difficult depending on what you get.
When you pick your character you have the chance to purchase upgrades, new weapons, armor, or enchantments with the money and blueprints you found in the castle on your last play through. You then have to waste all remaining money upon entering the castle paying the gatekeeper Charon.
Once you’ve entered the castle your goal is to stay alive as long as possible, collect money, blueprints, and enchantments, and defeat the four bosses of the castle so that you can proceed to the final boss and conquer the castle. You do this by attacking people with your sword, magic spells, and the special abilities of your class. This may sound simple, but it will be a difficult task as you face difficult bosses and harder enemies as you proceed through the castle.
The game doesn’t really have much of a story so the themes again are sparse. You can extend the gameplay mechanics of heirs into a woeful tale of family duty and mystery. One could ask why do the descendants of Johannes continue in their quest to unravel the mysteries of the castle after so many members of the family have met their demise, but it’s really a question the game doesn’t answer and is left to imagination.
- Cruise Control – I found that the game had some very good controls. I played it on the keyboard for the PC and was able to do fairly well with the game. I can imagine that playing with a controller would be an even better experience. This isn’t a game you die from because the controls are tough.
- Progressing on the Journey – There was always a good sense of progress through Rogue Legacy. A new weapon or piece of armor to find, the need to collect money for the next upgrade, or a new enchantment to unlock. All this allowed for a good sense of progress. Yes sometimes this involved some grind, but it was a lot of fun to do in my opinion.
- Legendary Cameos – Okay this is just a bit of a nerdy point, once you find out the plot centers around the fountain of youth it is interesting to note that the bosses all are names of people who are connected with the legend of the fountain of youth. Nothing that really improves the game directly, but I thought it was a nice touch.
- Patience is a Virtue – This is a difficult game, if you try to rush right through it unprepared it will not be nice to you. At times it will be very difficult to progress without properly upgrading your abilities. This will mean gaining money and finding equipment. I did find it tough at certain points to gain enough money to progress further, but eventually you do break through these points as you get better at the game and get sufficiently upgraded.
- Just One More Try – Rouge Legacy is one of those games that can keep you coming back for one more round. This is a good thing as it means the game is fun and keeps you coming back for more. It’s not good though because it means it can be hard to pull yourself away trying to chip away at the challenge.
- Now For Something Completely Different – The traits that this game include for characters are pretty interesting. Having ways to incorporate traits like ADHD, Dyslexia, Near-Sightedness, and many others is an interesting way of approaching character traits. It also can be quite funny how some of traits are displayed in the game. Some of these traits though get old and you find yourself looking for your favorites at times and sometimes you don’t get any good setups when choosing your heir.
- Class Division – It could just be that certain classes in the game are suited towards certain play styles, but I found that some classes seemed to do much better in the game than others. While I don’t think this detracted from the fun of the game, it did cause me to play certain classes more than others unless you got a particularly poor draw.
- Did We Need to Make Things Harder – The only real negative I can think of comes from the super hard Remix bosses that were added to the game later. I was initially looking forward to them quite a bit, I mean more Rogue Legacy is a good thing, but I found myself disappointed. I found them very difficult, and since you have to use a set character there is no way to make things easier. I’m sure they can be beat, but it just wasn’t the more Rogue Legacy I wanted.
I’m sure by now you’ve realized that I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue Legacy. It is a challenging game, but it is doable with patience and a willingness to collect money and upgrades. I found it to be a fun, well done platformer that kept me coming back. You may be turned off by the 15$ price tag, but I honestly think the game is worth it. If you don’t I know that you can find this game on sale at various points for the PC. This game is also coming out to the PS3, Vita, and PS4 later this month so if you’d rather go that route you’d be able to as well.