With countless 2D indie action games to choose from, you can't go wrong with Rogue Legacy. It seamlessly blends RPG elements with hectic action and draws inspiration from games like Dark Souls and Symphony of the Night.
The plot in Rogue Legacy involves a knight named Johannes who commits regicide. The player controls Johannes' descendants who must explore and conquer the randomly generated game world. When each character is defeated, the player selects another descendant to carry out their family's legacy. The average player will probably go through many of these fellows during the course of the game.
Rogue Legacy looks and sounds great with 16-bit graphics, catchy music, and satisfying sound effects. Characters look charming as they run around brandishing their giant swords and enemies look like caricatures of stereotypical game enemies. You will encounter skeletons, flying warlocks who cast various spells, zombies, and oversized knights. Each area has its own unique and clearly defined style. Sound effects when characters attack, run around, get hurt, and use spells are done very nicely and add a layer of satisfaction to every event that occurs on-screen.
Each descendant has randomly assigned traits that can be beneficial (being able to knock enemies back further), disadvantageous (having glaucoma or nearsightedness), or entirely pointless (being gay). There are many different traits and each descendant is usually assigned one or two. This mechanic makes dying and choosing a new descendant very satisfying as the player will want to keep playing no matter how many times they bite the dust. Characters also have randomly assigned classes that are unlocked via the level up system. Classes range from ninjas, knights, mages, half-dragons, and spelunkers. Each class has their own inherent characteristics and abilities. Players will probably have a handful of favourites and be disappointed when they aren't available when selecting the next generation rogue.
Playing the game is simple and intuitive. Basic controls involve running, jumping, and attacking. As the game progresses, players will learn new moves which include being able to double jump and dash in the air. Characters are also equipped with special moves (which are unique for each character class) and spells (which act like sub-weapons). Every action the player can perform feels very responsive. Anyone can master the controls easily although that doesn't mean the game is going to be easy.
The game world consists of four distinct areas which include a castle, a forest, a tower, and a dark underground area. Every time you enter the game world each area is randomly generated which makes the game constantly feel fresh and exciting. Even after playing the game for a long time you will still encounter rooms that you have never seen before. There are plenty of secrets and treasures to discover as you explore each incarnation. You will find clowns offering carnival mini-games which allow you to win prizes, random artifacts that can help or hinder players, challenges to unlock treasure chests, and optional mini-bosses. There is so much to see and do and the game constantly throws new things at you that encourage you to keep playing. You will always feel compelled to see what comes next.
Players level up via investing earned money to build upon a castle. As the castle progresses, players unlock new character classes and upgrade base stats that are shared for all future descendants. Money is earned by defeating enemies, opening treasure chests, and completing various challenges. After you die, you can spend all of your earned money on upgrading the castle or purchasing unlocked weapons and runes from a couple of vendors. Players have the option to lock the castle down which means the game world will have the same layout as the previous time you entered. This also means that you will earn less money during the next run, so it should only be done when the player thinks it will be beneficial. After all of these arrangements are made, the player must give a large portion of their money to the castle's gatekeeper before re-entering the game world.
Rogue Legacy is very challenging. The challenge becomes easier as you earn money and level up. However, this can be time consuming. Skilled players will get much further in the game within the same time it takes unskilled players to get past a few rooms. All players of any skill level should be able to complete the game eventually. Boss fights can be fairly challenging and are very fun to conquer. Skilled players can learn the boss's patterns and take advantage of their vulnerabilities which is very satisfying. Considering almost everything in the game is randomized, at times the hand that you're dealt can feel unfair. If you can only select characters with classes that you're not used to or with traits that make the game frustrating, you can always swallow your pride and commit suicide to try your luck the next time around, but what gamer would ever do that?
If the idea of some old school 2D action with a new school twist arouses your curiosity then you will probably fall in love with Rogue Legacy. Endless possibilities and tough challenges wait for any gamer who likes exploration and fast 2D action.
- + Very challenging and rewarding
- + Randomly generated world and characters keep the game fresh
- + Retro graphics with great music and effects
- - Randomness can sometimes be unfair