Game: Rogue Legacy 2
Genre: Action, Adventure
System: Steam (Windows & macOS) also on Xbox
Developer|Publisher: Cellar Door Games
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £21.99 | US N/A | EU N/A
Release Date: April 28th, 2022
Review code provided with many thanks to Vicarious PR.
Legacy of Success
The original Rogue Legacy was one of the stand out titles in the rogue-lite genre back in the day. This was a title I first discovered on the PS Vita, but, I soon found myself playing it via cross-play on PS3, and PS4 and even purchasing it on other systems due to how much fun I had with it. Developer Cellar Door Games now returns with the hotly anticipated sequel which has finally been released through Early Access.
If you loved the first game then you have probably already picked this one up and would have brought the T-shirt if that was even possible. If you’re new to the series or the rogue-lite genre as a whole this is a great place to start. Rogue Legacy 2 does everything that made the original so fun and memorable and builds on it even further. But if you need more excuses to make a purchase then read on.
Rogue Legacy 101
The plot is pretty simple. You are a brave knight on a quest to infiltrate a large castle on an island in the hunt for riches and glory. Like the first game, the overall goal is to track down several bosses which are hidden within themed areas. Once dealt with you will be able to access the final area of the game, but it will be a very long time before you’ll see it. Not unless you are some gaming master that is.
In order to access new areas and boss rooms, you need to explore the randomly generated levels to find new abilities such as dash and the ability to hop off lanterns and objects. These abilities don’t just help you access new areas but are used in the game’s combat and platforming. Controls are incredibly tight and easy to pick up and play. The game delivers a helpful short but active tutorial on how to get to grips with things. When you unlock a new move the game cleverly weaves in a challenge room specifically designed around the new ability to show you how to use it.
Passing Down to the Next Heir
You start the game as a standard knight but such is the rogue-lite way, you will find that you will eventually perish. When this happens you are able to choose between a few heirs all of which have various traits that are a mixture of positive and negative. You have a mixture of attack, health and magic stats. But you also get randomized magic spells and passive abilities such as fire or poison balls or even a devastating blaster. The most memorable feature is the amusing traits which really mix up the gameplay.
You can choose characters who are colour blind and present the game world in black and white. Have vertigo and the whole world appears upside down, a feature that really messed with my head. The best by far is IBS where your character will randomly do the odd toot when jumping about. Rogue legacy 2 takes this trait one step further by featuring Super IBS which is where you’re capable of tooting on command and damaging enemies. There is so much variety in the characters; one can’t help trying out some of the more wacky builds.
Unlock more Features
Once you select a hero you then spend all the gold you earned from the previous run on an extensive skill tree which displays as a castle that slowly grows as you unlock more features. Even if a run falls apart you usually collect enough gold to increase at least one stat, making the next attempt just a little bit easier. It’s not new, just new skills you unlock. New heroes can be obtained with new weapons and abilities. No longer are you a brave knight with a sword, now you can use bows and arrows, spears, boxing gloves, cooking equipment and many delightful surprises.
I noticed this time the game employs an experience system for the various classes, gradually improving that specific class the more you play it. However, deciding to experiment with different builds and weapons carries its own benefits as well. A merchant and other vendors can be unlocked at the dock to allow you to tweak your character build before you head off on another run, with each requiring some gold and their own currency which can be found in chests throughout a run. There is an awful lot to play around with, with content constantly coming every run. You have so much flexibility each run, but if you just want to jump into a run you can do that too.
How I Play Rogue Legacy
My favourite way to play this game is with my wife who chooses which of the heirs I’ll run with. Often it’s probably not the best for the situation but it’s still my favourite way to play the game. Even if things are made harder for me. It’s something I would encourage you to do yourself. Rogue Legacy 2 is a very family-friendly experience with its innocent-looking art style and silly character design so even the kids may enjoy watching this.
You may want to consider swapping the controller between runs and seeing how your friend or loved one performs. It’s an excellent game to pick up in short or long bursts. Most of my runs only lasted less than ten minutes but these will grow as you gain more experience. A first run-through will take well over 25 hours total but there is still plenty of incentive to return with a new game plus. I can see myself playing this game for years to come especially if it ends up on Nintendo Switch.
Graphics have received a huge overhaul. The original pixel graphics are now replaced with fully animated characters. Your knight’s adorable triumphant walk still remains with weapon help high and legs reaching up to the hips with each stride. This always brings a smile to my face.
The level designs vary a lot more this time around. The initial area is the castle setting with small enclosed rooms but you will now visit areas with huge vast spaces. All levels are randomly generated per run unless you use a certain NPC. What remains constant is somewhere hidden in each area, is room to choose between two relics. For most new items you discover you don’t actually know the effect they will have until you select them. This creates a curious yet satisfying gamble to the run. Again even if all falls apart I still enjoyed myself.
There are also a variety of enemies to combat like skeletons, knights, mages and some very irritating floating weapons. The soundtrack is also great, giving off a sense of mystery and intrigue like the random levels you explore. The main theme didn’t quite hit me like the original game’s epic number which still resonates in my brain today. I was fortunate enough to test the game on PC and on an original Xbox one and can say with confidence both have excellent performance.
Niggles? And Accessibility
With so much praise I had to sit down for a moment and think of some niggles. I wasn’t too fond of the platforming challenge rooms. These require you to usually get to a chest under a time limit without getting hit. It just felt a bit too much. But maybe I’m just yet to master them. Combat challenge rooms were much more reasonable.
When I started the game I did feel the initial boss was very overpowered. Coming at you hard and fast with a pattern tricky to follow it took me some time to conquer the challenge. And boy was that a good feeling when it exploded with riches and items. But then I noticed that you don’t have to tackle the boss straight away and I could have proceeded to a new area instead. I think if you really don’t like rogue-lite games or the original you may be turned off.
But what might interest you is the game’s accessibility features. A generous offering of options to tweak. The game’s difficulty and challenge so you can tailor the experience to your liking. When I was struggling with the first boss I hovered over the option. But before committing the game advised you to try without as it is tailored for all skill levels. So I did and never looked back. I have to agree with the developers, there are times in this game when it is brutally hard but despite those hardships I kept coming back again and again.
Conclusion – A Legacy to Remember
While I did manage to find a few things to nitpick there is no denying I kept coming back to this game run after run. The random generation of the character types and level design is so enormous that every attempt at taking down the castle felt different. On top of that, the controls are tight and easy to use and the game is overall enormous fun to play. Rogue Legacy 2 is everything I loved about the original title with so much more added to it. Unless you absolutely hate the rogue-lite genre there is plenty of incentive to jump into the sequel thanks to its accessibility features and general refinements to the gameplay. Even years from now Rogue Legacy 2 is sure to solidify itself as one of the best in the rogue-lite genre. Well at least until the next game that is.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up