Rogue Legacy Review
Apart from breakfast the most important thing is family, at least according Michael Bluth, that is. And Rogue Legacy is a game about precisely that, a tale of lineage, deceit and farting lesbian barbarians. Leave your serious hats at the keep and wipe your feet on the welcome mat of absurd lancestry.
In its most unadulterated form, Rogue Legacy is equal parts a 2D platformer and a self-proclaimed rogue-‘lite’ about swatting all manner of beasties with the slice of a sword and the flutter of magic fingers. At first combat presents itself as a simplistic remnant from the Ghost of Videogames Past, with only a single button for melee and sorcery, but Rogue Legacy’s canniness lies in all which envelops the fighting.
Being a not-quite roguelike means each entry into the castle generates an entirely unique layout, but within pre-defined areas: a forest, dungeon, tower and main castle itself.
Each of these contains its own indigenous critters of varying levels, with a grizzly boss at its gooey centre. It’s up to the player to determine firstly where each resides, and in which order to proceed. There’s a sense of discovery and vague structure which can elude some games of this nature, each corridor is both steeped in a muggy whiff of familiarity, but never approaches the languid or repetitive. This approach to level design is a perfect partner to Rogue Legacy’s softly simmering pace, just a slither above a laborious grinding, poised just so, allowing a really grand scope for progression and reward.
Unlike your pitiful ‘normal’ roguelikes, death in Rogue Legacy doesn’t make for an excruciating end and miserable trudge back to the start. Each stalwart hero has three offspring, with totally randomised classes and traits, apparently regardless of sexual preference, selected upon death to avenge and better their ancestors.
In some cases death can even be preferable and acts as the only means of progression. Accrued gold and goodies are inexplicably sent first-class to their next of kin, to fritter away on upgrades, visualised by an ever-growing castle, plus runes, equipment and some friends along the way.
Baby adventurers come in all shapes and sizes, the majority of whom bear one or many ailments and traits. Ranging from the low-brow chuckles brought about by I.B.S, which sees characters periodically parp when dashing or jumping, to hypochondria, tourettes and gigantism.
Many of these traits skew expectations of these so-called imperfections, traits like dwarfism allowing access to many a hidden-area and providing a smaller target, with ADHD making the character fleet of feet. The player must choose one of three to move on, and with classes and traits completely randomised, occasionally squeezing out a champion-to-be, but more likely a human scotch egg.
Death is also the only means to level-up, and passive attributes grow with each life lost. Non-existence has its downside in Charon, to whom all gold must be relinquished before re-entry into Hamson.
This forces the player in immediately purchasing additional items and abilities accentuating the gentle ebb of character betterment. For a hefty percentage, the Architect can lock down the layout of the last castle, trading-off potential monetary gain against exploration.
It may not be much to look at, scoring full marks on the Predictably Indie Game Visuals exam, and a defined style of its own is one of the few things the game lacks.
Rogue Legacy works so well when all these tiny, seemingly insignificant systems all mesh together, and the moment it all slides is 3am on a Monday morning, seven hours after first picking it up, creating these gorgeous, ever-growing loops of delight whereby each run feels distinct, but with a tangible aura of growth, especially when balancing the imperfections of your many, many characters.
Cellar Door have taken the frantic bursts of roguelike, woven them all together and created a game with near-limitless longevity that may just snare you for good.
Version Tested: PC