Rogue Legacy is a dungeon crawling action-RPG that has a very unique aspect to it. Based on building up characters through trial and error, players will take the role of hundreds of faceless would-be heroes as they scourge a castle in an attempt to bring a traitor to justice. Along the way, they get mercilessly murdered hundreds of times by various traps and enemies. It pays homage to older Metroidvania titles with modern RPG elements.
SMASH 'N' GRAB
Controls Down to a Science - As strange as it sounds; Rogue Legacy could probably be played on an original Sega Controller. With only 3-4 action buttons, and simple movement controls, Rogue Legacy is very simple to pick up. As it stands, the buttons are Jump, attack, attack downwards while jumping, cast a spell, and use your class ability. There’s not a whole lot more than that, and to be honest, that’s all you need. Remember, you’re controlling one rogue through a death trap where one slip of the finger could mean total game over, simplicity is key.
Beautiful - Rogue Legacy is dripping with great artwork. The pixelated world of the castle is densely populated with many different enemy types and environments. I’ll admit that the game has a tendency to re-use some enemies as all the bosses are just larger versions of normal enemies, but even they are fun to fight. Recycling enemies is actually good in this game as it teaches you basic patterns before giving an upgraded enemy of what you just fought a new pattern.
Hidden Detail - Something that really gets me about the game is how very deep it is. On the outside, it’s a run around where player goes from tile to tile killing enemies and grinding their character to ultimate victory. However, on the inside there’s a deep story of treachery and insanity that is told better than most AAA titles. On top of that, the game developers have hidden plenty of additional Easter Eggs, including nods to their previous works, and Santa Claus.
RPG Elements - Rogue Legacy does RPG elements right. To put it simply, after rolling a new character, you are given your ancestor’s gold to upgrade the new character for when they go to explore the castle. Unfortunately, you can’t keep gold from generation to generation, forcing players to wisely spend their cash. Since cash is very hard to get, it means you have to make sure that every point you upgrade counts or else it’s a waste.
Variety of Classes - With over a dozen of possible classes, there’s literally a character for everyone. An example of this is my wife and mine’s playthrough. In my time I felt Barbarians were best for exploring, and Hokage were best for taking on bosses, but my wife seemed to see it differently. She enjoyed the Lich for taking on the castle, and the Dragon for taking on bosses. It’s one of those things where the game allows you to succeed how you want.
Mix ‘N’ Match - While I’m not particularly fond of randomly generated levels, Rogue Legacy does it right. The castle is always generated in a way to challenge players without making it impossible. There’s never a point where you die simply because the castle was too hard. You will die because you were a greedy douche, not because the game generated a level filled with spikes you couldn’t get around. To me, that’s proper random generation, and it definitely improved my opinion of random dungeons.
Boring Music - I suppose after playing a game for 20 hours, it only makes sense you’d get bored of the music. The repeated soundtrack of the castle becomes a painful drawl, and after my twentieth character I found myself sprinting into the Depths just to hear something new. The most unfortunate thing is that there’s literally a room in the castle that can change the music you’re listening to, but only while you’re in it. The second you leave, you’re back to the hell you’ve been listening to for 5 straight hours.
Dead Stop - There’s a common issue that occurs with games like Metroid, Rogue Legacy, and Dark Souls. Eventually you reach this point where you have to sit there and senselessly grind, or get better at the game. The steady difficulty curve stops, and you have to tough it out until you can break through this brick wall in front of you. For me, that was between the second and the third boss. It took me 3 hours to be strong enough to beat the first boss, and another 3 to beat the second. It took me roughly 8 hours to be strong enough to beat the third boss, and maybe an hour later to beat the fourth and final boss. Sure it added to the game time, but I don't think I enjoyed much of those 8 hours.
Rogue Legacy is a great game. It’s not perfect, but it’s a very difficult and very fun game that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something every time you beat a boss. It’s not easy, and it never gets easy. You just get better. Honestly, it’s not a game for casual gamers, but it’s a fun game that will be enjoyed immensely by those who fall for its allure. If you consider yourself a “hardcore” gamer (man I hate that term), you owe it to yourself to play Rogue Legacy.
This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*