Rogue Legacy will certainly go down as one of 2013’s most polarizing titles. Those who ‘get it’ will take to the game immediately, finding that its blend of offbeat humor and retro charm combine to make the perfect storm of indie titles. Those who stand on the other side of the fence will surely be turned off by the game’s somewhat archaic mechanics and often unforgiving difficulty spikes.
Rogue Legacy takes the oft-forgotten ‘roguelike’ genre and puts its own unique spin to the formula. Players are tasked with exploring an ever-changing castle filled with treasure and dozens of deadly enemies. These enemies will kill you – make no mistakes, Rogue Legacy can be a very unforgiving game – but in dying, the game’s most interesting premise really shines.
Upon your untimely death, the game is not over. In fact, after dying, the game truly begins. Players pick their next successor upon each death, choosing from countless different combinations of classes, traits and personality quirks. Initially, your heir’s potential classes are RPG staples – the Warrior, Barbarian, Mage and Knave are all present – but each class can be upgraded as well as a handful of other classes that can be unlocked.
Learning the nuances of each class as well as the pros and cons of the various traits is often the key to surviving the treacherous halls of Rogue Legacy. With each class having its own strengths and subsequent weaknesses, as well as your heir’s unique traits, the variety of potential characters is near limitless. With traits as varied as ‘baldness’, ‘ADHD’, and the frustratingly hilarious ‘vertigo’ (which flips the screen upside down), finding the perfect balance of class and trait may not happen all too often, but each character is always a blast to play.
Rogue Legacy requires some patience and commitment. As previously stated, you will be dying a lot, and while death can be frustrating, the gold and items accumulated from the previous character is passed on to the next generations. Gold can be used to purchase stat upgrades, various pieces of equipment, and additional classes. Taking the time to properly equip and level stats will require more than a few trial and error based runs.
There is definitely a learning curve in Rogue Legacy, and while getting accustomed to the game will certainly make you live longer, it by no means will make you a champion. Because each and every run will have you navigating a new castle landscape, there is no set path to victory. Learning the best ways to deal with the monsters and rogue knights that stand in your path, as well as how to best navigate the spike trap infested hallways can seem unfair at times, but upon clearing rooms or beating one of the game’s four challenging bosses, the sweet feeling of victory is a worthy reward.
Living long enough to get to the bosses can often provide to be a challenge, as one of Rogue Legacy’s faults lies in hit detection. Far too often, you will take damage from touching an enemy that seemed to be further away than the game registers it. While this may not be initially all that noticeable, it can get frustrating when in a life-or-death situation.
This isn’t the end of the world, however, as Rogue Legacy does so many things right that it is easy to look past the hit detection fault. The charming music has a way of sticking in your head after playing, and the game’s various humorous traits allow for some hilariously defective characters, all tied together neatly in a beautifully presented 16-bit inspired package.
All in all, Rogue Legacy is just what the doctor ordered for gamers who are looking for a difficult, yet entertaining, experience. Few games in recent memory have had the ability to punish players while still making them come back for more. The combined effect of never knowing what your next character will be like, as well as the addictive nature of pushing yourself to do better than the last attempt is an absolute blast. At an affordable price tag, there is no reason to sleep on Rogue Legacy – get out there and start building your heritage. Your successors might not be perfect, but you’ve got to love your family, right?
*The reviewer was given a copy of Rogue Legacy for the PC courtesy of Cellar Door Games
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