This year has seen an influx of roguelike games. Apparently, people have been craving difficult platforming and split-second timing. One of the most interesting additions has been Rogue Legacy from Cellar Door Games. Difficulty and all, this game is quite a treat.
You play a Knight and his/her future generations. Your task is to delve into a haunted castle, defeat the boss in each section and unlock the final battle with the last boss. The hook is that each generation has some genetic anomaly, whether that is dwarfism, making your character very small, color-blindness, turning the whole world black and white, or vertigo, which flips the whole world upside down. These additions to gameplay further increase the challenge and adds fun new twists that keep the game fresh. And with the gold you earn, you can upgrade your castle, unlocking new classes and boosting stats.
Rogue Legacy is all about its gameplay. The controls are tight and responsive, though I recommend playing it with a gamepad of some kind. There isn’t a lot of variety in the controls, but the jumping and dashing are fun, and every attack that lands feels satisfying. One complaint is that small movements are not as easy to pull off. In a few areas where incredibly precise positioning is required, it can be difficult. This can either be a flaw in the controls, or the level design.
The additions of the genetic anomalies is great. Sometimes you must choose a class you like with bothersome stats, or a class you hate with useful afflictions. With these random changes, no character feels like a copy of another. Some, however, are more annoying than challenging. The near and far sighted effects don’t add to the challenge. The slight blur they add either close to you or far away are more bothersome than anything. And the irritable bowel syndrome is just a continuing fart joke. I would have like to see more unique and impactful changes. Pretty quickly you’ll see every effect.
One element of a roguelike is the random level generation. While this is present in Rogue Legacy, it isn’t nearly as interesting as it could be. Each section seems to have a set of pre-designed rooms that get shuffled around after each death. After a while, you’ll have a good understanding of each of the rooms and they become easier to navigate.
The enemies are fairly consistent, with stronger versions of the usual enemies spawn in each of the progressing sections, with one or two new ones added. The boss fights are typically giant versions of one enemy type. These battles become part hack and slash, part precision platformed, and part bullet hell. The boss battles were probably my favorite fights and it is a shame that you can’t fight them again until you start a new game.
While I have my criticisms about stagnating design, the challenge is what keeps me coming back. Even if I have seen most of the variety already, I still want to plunge into the castle to fight and do better and better. If you like a challenge where every failure falls on your own inability, then you’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of Rogue Legacy.
Summary: A challenging and long-lasting exercise in patience, timing, and guts.
Verdict: 8 out of 10
Review by Todd Naevestad