In Rogue Legacy, even the most valiant heroes suffer from ADHD, vertigo, Alzheimers or irritable bowels. That’s quite inconvenient actually; just imagine what would happen if Mario farted every time he saved Princess Peach from Bowser. Poor guy! Luckily for us, there is no princess that needs saving in Rogue Legacy, but an ever-changing dungeon filled with treasures and monsters that needs exploring. And in any case, death is collateral, any discomfort your hero is having will only last for a short period of time until the moment he dies.
Let’s go back a few steps first. Rogue Legacy is an indie platformer near in style to Spelunky or La Mulana, developed by Cellar Door Games and reminiscent of the old Roguelike games, or Rogue-‘lite’ as they brilliantly call it. Roguelike is a sub-genre of Role Playing Games, characterised by level randomization, permanent death and dungeon crawler elements. In this game it is best to be prepared for death, because you will most definitely encounter it an infinite amount of times. Rogue Legacy is hard up to a point where it could be seriously aggravating, especially in the beginning when players are not accustomed to the gameplay yet. In the end, I learned that dying is just part of the pattern: the game and its diversity is ultimately built around our hurtful losses.
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Genre: Roguelike RPG
I use the word losses, because every time players lose their hero, they lose them indefinitely. Instead of respawning the same character, players have to choose their next hero in-line of the family; each hero disposing of unique traits and disabilities (which work against or in favor) and special powers that come with their class. This is a brilliant way of diversing your gameplay experience: if your hero is a dwarf, you’ll be able to go through tunnels, granting easy access to other areas. Color blind heroes will only see in black and white, demented heroes will see enemies that are not really there, and heroes with Alectorphobia freak out everytime they see a chicken. I would name them all just to prove how ridiculous it gets, but that would do you no justice.
Players will spend most of their time in the dungeon, which is filled to the brim with blood-thirsty and angry monsters. What’s more, every time you enter the castle with a new hero, the layout of the building shifts randomly, making every playthrough unique. There’s always enough collectibles and loot to keep you busy, whether it is collecting coins from chandeliers, chairs and tables, completing challenges to gain access to fairy treasures or facing high-leveled bosses in every section of the castle. There are four of these sections, each carrying their own theme, mobs, challenges and catchy music. Around the castle are scattered runes and blueprints: handing them over to the smithy and the enchantress will provide players with ‘phat’ power.
It is a real pleasure to dive into this dungeon, even if its only because of the fact that everything changes with every turn, and I’m sadly never finished with collecting coin and expanding my skill tree. This is an absolute must, if you hope to stand a chance against the four bosses.
All the coin you collect goes into the pockets of your heir, which would explain the title ‘Rogue Legacy‘. Players can use their loot to expand their skill tree, making new classes available, as well as increasing mana for magic, health and attack powers. This works genuinely because as the player evolves, so does the difficulty of the castle. Although he’ll be able to go deeper into the dungeon, the intensity of the game stays homogenous. The rewards obtained through the skill tree ultimately makes the game addictive, it always had me going back ruthless and hungry for money. Very selfish indeed.
Arguably, what makes this game enjoyable is the fact that it doesn’t take itself very seriously and the humor is bound to make you chuckle every once in a while. Do you want to fly? A rune will give you the option, even if it only lasts 0.6 seconds.*Sigh*. The art-style is cute and cartoony; the only thing still missing are more weapons, traits and challenges which would make the game even bigger. Rogue Legacy performs well in every aspect and plays away smoothly, the only obstacle players have to face is its difficulty in the beginning, because once your hp bar is empty it becomes extremely difficult to stay standing on two feet.