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Rogue Legacy: Review

Surviving is unashamedly hard, but death is part of the formula for success. Each time the player dies, instead of restarting the level as the same protagonist, they take up the mantle of their children. Each new adventurer comes with a randomly generated class, spell and character traits that ensure each attempt is unique. Before braving the castle, the player must spend all their previously earned gold on runes, gear and upgrades to level up each subsequent generation in hopes of penetrating further into the dungeon.

What You’ll Enjoy

Rogue Legacy creates feelings of nostalgia for anyone who played Metroid, Mega Man, Castlevania or anything from the great 2D platforming era. The sprite based models, environments, attack animations and music are a perfect recreation of SNES gameplay. And like those games of yesteryear, it contains a unapologetic difficulty level.

For my first attempts at the castle, I chose characters who possessed traits I hadn’t played with before and was RL Merchantsalways fascinated at how it modified gameplay. One hero was nearsighted, which meant that the back half of the screen was constantly blurry. When I first chose a gargantuan hero three times the size of the previous, I thought enemies would cower in fear…but quickly realized that I was just a larger target. There are a plethora of clever (some annoying…looking at you vertigo) traits available to play around with, ensuring a steady stream of replayability.

The castle and subsequent grounds are randomly generated. Each time you enter the caste, you need to navigate a different maze of rooms. There are dead ends, secret corridors, mini-games and challenges which might or may not be present in your current layout. It is possible to lockdown the castle design by using the architect, at a cost of 40% any gold you pick up. This is a great way to complete any challenge rooms such as don’t jump to reach a chest, destroy all enemies or don’t take damage.

Combat is difficult, but fair. Your hero’s jump can be short and quick or a long sustained double-jump if you decide. RL FightEnemies will follow set attack patterns which can be exploited, but will regain health if you leave the area. Most rooms use a combination of environmental dangers and foes to test your coordination. Your first deaths will come quickly, but eventually through learning and leveling up you will conquer each section.

There are a cornucopia of upgrade options available to players to craft their playstyle. The smith can sell items which lower maximum health, but grant HP generation when an enemy is killed or other risk/reward equipment. The enchantress offers a variety of runes which can increase gold gains, decrease enemy level or provide a dash maneuver. Your inventory is limited so you must choose wisely. The same set of gear that works well with your shield and sword paladin might not be appropriate for the fragile assassin.

What Might Frustrate You

I know this was said earlier, but it is worth repeating…you will die. There are minibosses triple your level in the first rooms, your early attacks will do little damage and it is possible to venture forth to the fourth area before even beating the first boss. Death is part of the learning experience and how you level up. You can’t buy an upgrade until you die.

No matter if its your first defeat or eighty-sixth, being a few gold coin short of an upgrade is painful. Here’s a protip, when you purchase an upgrade the cost of all other upgrades goes up a portion not just the stat you increased. RL FamilyReview your available funds before confirming upgrades. When you venture forth to the castle again, all your gold will vanish. There is a skill which reduces this but it costs gold to upgrade and you’ll never keep all your winnings. There will be run throughs where you have a pile of gold, but nothing within your price point.

The randomly generated descendants is an excellent feature for replayability but when you know exactly how you want to play it can be frustrating. When your best option is a shinobi with throwing knives but your only choices are barbarian, spellsword and miner it will feel like an unnecessary attempt and timekiller.

Final Verdict

If you enjoy 2D platformers this game is the perfect addition to your library. This is not a game for everyone, and it will definitely take patience. But if you are up for the challenge, it is a rewarding experience.

Must-Play

+ Combat is Fun
+ Unique Hero Combinations
+ Death is Only the Beginning
+ Old-School Sensibilities
– Too Challenging?

Trophy Analysis

Most trophies will unlock during the normal course of beating the game twice. First on normal then again on New Game +. Which in of itself is not an easy accomplishment. There are a few for unlocking all equipment, runes and level upgrades which will require grinding as there are 71 blueprints and 53 runes available. And then there is a trophy which I applaud anyone for earning, Thanatophobia; beat the game within 15 lives without using the architect. I might be a trophy hunter…but I’ll acknowledge this one will remain out of reach.

Level Up, Friends!