Rogue Legacy consists of you trying to journey down a gauntlet of seemingly randomized levels that implement Metroid-vania style gaming to the max difficulty setting. When your player dies you will be sent back to the beginning and given three different options of descendants to choose from.
- DualShock 4
Required Disk Space:
- 740MB Minimum
Supported Video Output:
- Digital Download
Average Playing Time:
- 33 Hours
Rogue Legacy was developed by the team at Cellar Door Games and released on the PS3 & PS4 (reviewed) as well as the PS Vita, Xbox One, and PC. We picked up a copy of this 2D action game due entirely to the interesting premise. You see, the Legacy in the title has a lot of meaning in the actual gameplay. As you play, live, and die you will pass on your gameplay to a child of your initial character. From there on out every character will follow one another, with new twists and wrinkles on their build style. It’s an interesting game for a rogue like game and one that lured us in, even if we hadn’t ever heard of the team of developers. So sit back and find out if Rogue Legacy is a game worth passing on or picking up.
If you aren’t familiar with roguelike games then you might be surprised by what is in store for you when you first boot up your copy of Rogue Legacy. To keep things relatively simple and focused, roguelike games are intent on punishing players with character deaths as often as possible. This means that roguelike titles refuse to hold your hand and will make sure that your character dies as often as possible. When your character dies you go back to the start of the game and begin again with a completely freshly rolled character. It’s a game design that appeals to those who really want to punish themselves, opting for perfection instead.
The essential core of the game consists of you trying to journey down a gauntlet of seemingly randomized levels that implement Metroid-vania style gaming to the max difficulty setting. When your player dies you will be sent back to the beginning and given three different options of descendants to choose from. Your descendants have a host of strengths and weaknesses to an almost hilarious degree. Once you pick then you continue on in your gameplay, rinse and repeat as needed. Sounds simple, right? It’s the list of differences in your descendants that makes the game so much more than that.
Let’s take an example straight from our playthrough, where one of our descendants was colorblind. When we selected that character, and we shouldn’t have been surprised, the game lost all color and we had to play through that characters journey without the benefit of the NES era style color palette. Fun, right? What if your character has ADHD? Well, that means they’ll just run seemingly twice as fast as normal, giving you a real combat advantage in levels where the enemies are everywhere while punishing you in the platforming sections. All perks aren’t exactly useful, however, and many of them will surprise you with what they do. That’s part of the fun in this procedural game, just experimenting and living with what happens afterward.
Most roguelike titles don’t waste too much time developing a plot or expanding character motivations and that is totally fine. Unlike narrative driven games, players are tuning in because they want a piece of the action and they don’t care what their reason for fighting is. And that’s sort of the perspective we took too. Our mission is always to push left to right in search of more enemies to kill while avoiding any number of the colorfully animated creatures that want to rain hell down on us. The randomly generated characters are a high point of the game and there is some character attachment to them, knowing that perma-death is a very real thing. Perma-death comes often, as well for you.
Level designs straddle the border between simplistic and an AI induced frenzy of bullet hell. You’ll see certain levels, such as a green grass platformer level full of skulls, that seem almost impossible to navigate. You only have so many platforms to jump on and your enemies are flying down from every direction. Pretty soon you are no longer planning your moves but merely reacting to them in what rapidly becomes a very real dance of death. It’s aggravatingly difficult but oh so fulfilling when you manage to get past an exhausting section. However you can’t ever let the frustration get to you because there is always more of it coming right behind.
Speaking of difficulties, let’s take a look at some of the Boss levels you’ll be fighting through. Roguelike games almost by definition keep you perennially underleveled as you work your way through the game. So you’ll almost always be going into your next confrontation with a chip on your shoulder. Boss levels are meticulously crafted, insanely difficult, and probably the biggest funeral ground in the whole game. Knowing that you might be facing your last enemy as a really cool character makes them all the more stressful. You’ll get sent back as a body many times as you try to push past particularly difficult bosses.
Restarting the game fresh with every death sounds frustrating but there are some positives to it in Rogue Legacy. When you get sent back you are able to loot treasure from the prior dead hero. You can then use these treasures in order to upgrade your current heroes stats and unlock different skills and abilities. Pour your treasure into HP and reap the benefit of having a huge health bar when you try your run again. Or push it all into your mana section and have more magic to wield. Whatever you want to do here, do it, will effect the way the game is played. This is by far the most explicit RPG styled moments in the entire game. This is also the biggest departure from the roguelike demographic as it allows you to progress characters and make the game easier the longer you play.
With pixelated graphics, a hell-on-wheels approach to level design, and a nifty descendant mechanic we found Rogue Legacy to be incredibly satisfying. The game was teeth grindingly hard and we had moments where throwing a controller would be appropriate, but in the end we found the game to be more than satisfying.