Game: Rogue Legacy
System: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Cellar Door Games
Developer: Cellar Door Games
Rating: UK & EU 12/US 10+
Release: November 6th 2018
Review code kindly provided by Cellar Door Games
Many years ago, in a land far far away, an assassin penetrated a castle in an attempt to kill a King. Even though struck, the King although alive was left gravely wounded. By royal decree, his descendants travel into the cursed woods to obtain an object that will heal him. The much sought after item is locked in the throne room of Castle Hanson. The throne room, located behind a mysterious golden door, is placed in the castle foyer. Engraved in the door are clues as to how access is gained. The task ahead isn’t easy as a long line of dead descendants can testify. Since my first attempt, I’ve racked up more than 90 dead siblings, and I’m still nowhere near the finish line.
A great platforming experience
I was immediately intrigued by Rogue Legacy as soon as I watched the official trailer. Being a fan of the platform genre, and past titles such as Ghost and Goblins, a knight battling supernatural forces seemed enticing. I’m also happy to state that as a platform game, Rogue Legacy doesn’t disappoint. The controls are tight; levels are fun and highly addictive. My only problem is that I lack the tactical thinking required to be successful. A good tip; if your character has low stats, don’t be afraid to skip a room if it’s filled with hoards of enemies.
A Celebration of Diversity
It’s sometimes said that if humans were all similar life would be incredibly dull. To quote the Greatest Showman, “No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” Rogue Legacy is a celebration of human diversity. The King’s heirs are all different. They consist of male and female knights/paladin’s, barbarians/King and Queen barbarians, mages/archmages, knaves/assassins, miners/ spelunkers etc. There are eight character types in total, a few of which are available by default, whereas others must be unlocked.
Every character also has their unique strengths, weaknesses, and traits. Some are labeled useless and feeble, whereas some are valiant, heroic and determined. Others are tall, short, bulky and thin. There’s also a mixture of handicaps amongst the King’s siblings such as visual problems, dwarfism, A.D.H.D, O.C.D, and dyslexia. There are more than 30 traits in total, some of which have more of an impact than others. For example, dyslexia jumbles up text, long-sightedness blurs everything nearby, whereas short-sightedness does the reverse. I have sat back and wondered in recent days if some may find the use of such labels as offensive. But having thought about it more, the game is about triumphing over evil regardless of labels and stereotypes.
Dying, upgrades and unlockables
In typical Roguelike fashion, Rogue Legacy involves dying again and again to boost your chances for the next run. Each attempt gives the gamer opportunities to collect gold, runes, and stat upgrades which are used to enhance your characters stats either via the Smithy, Blacksmith, or Enchantress.
The Smithy opened for a mere 50 coins. The Smithy is a skill tree which allows players to unlock new character types and boost stats such as energy, defence, critical attacks. To obtain stronger weapons and armour, players can take their gold coins to the blacksmith. The Enchantress, on the other hand, is where you go to unlock and activate runes such as double jump and flight.
By default, stages ‘ are procedurally generated, but if you feel like another run using the last layout, the architect will enable that in exchange for a percentage of gold. Also, it’s crucial to spend your gold if possible before entering the castle or Charon the hellish deathlike doorman will confiscate whatever remaining gold you have left.
Visuals and sound
The game’s visuals like so many platform indie titles are reminiscent of classic retro titles. Being a fan of 8-bit and 16-bit machines, I’ll never tire of retro-lookalike games. The sound and music fit well with the overall experience. I’m not sure if the soundtrack can be labelled retro-like but I’m not bothered by that. The game looks and sounds like it plays, brilliant!.
I like Rogue Legacy a lot. I’ve been treated to a few great rogue-like indie platformers this year, and this is right up there with the best. If you like Ghost & Goblins and modern rogue-like platformers like Vertical Drop Heroes HD, then you’ll love Rogue Legacy.