I was harangued into buying a PS4 by Craig, and rather than playing something “new” I decided to play a retro inspired indie game because I am a curmudgeon-ey bastard who hates himself almost ad much as I hate others.
Rogue Legacy is a Roguealike Metroidvania-esque RPG platformer. What this means is that each time you die, the castle resets and the layout is randomised (Roguealike) with certain parts of the castle only accessible if your chosen character has a certain skill or ability (Metroidvania-esque).
When you die you then get to pick an heir, this heir will be your next life and will have a specific trait and archetypal DnD class that you can choose from a randomised list. The traits can be a physical abnormality like gigantism or dwarfism, or it can be something useless like “they fart when they jump”, or a specific spell that the heir will be able to cast. This is where the MetroidVania elements come in. As if you’re small you can access certain parts of the castle a regular sized character can’t and some areas will need two double jumps or 3 dashes to reach a treasure.
However, there is no guarantee that a dwarf only secret will spawn when you’re a dwarf, and the way you do this is to use “The Architect” to lock the castle to the previous layout. The downsides to the architect is that you only gain 60% of the money you would, and there is no guarantee the characters you need will spawn on the next life.
On top of these traits is a basic class system where you can choose to be a rogue, warrior or mage, and upgraded versions of those classes each with their own benefit that can be further bolstered using the skill tree.
Being a retro inspired game you can guess that there will be an obnoxious difficulty curve. A god amongst men would probably beat it on 1 life and in 15 minutes. But the rest of us plebs will probably have to sink 20 hours to get to the end. As Rogue Legacy is a “git gud” or a “grind as much gold and over level your ass so much you can to eventually wafflestomp your way through the levels” kinda game.
Once you die you can then spend the gold on levelling up or new equipment. However, when you re-enter the castle Charon (Greek god that is the ferryman for the river Styx) takes all your money so you can’t stockpile cash by constantly spamming the easy rooms. It means you will waste a lot of time on runs if you’re not making enough to buy the next upgrade and with a randomised dungeon some of the randomised level builds can feel very unfair especially to a newb.
The soundtrack works by playing the theme for the area you are in, but until you get good enough to find the next section expect to hear the castle theme endlessly repeated for what feels like an eternity.
On my 17 hour playthrough probably 12 hours of that was the castle so even when you get good, you still have to fight through main castle to get to other sections. It means that the music feels like a mixed bag. It is bloody brilliant. But it feels like there are only 2 tracks and that while Pistol Shrimp is up there with Dr Wily’s Castle Theme from Mega Man 2 for awesomeness, it gets old pretty quickly.
You spend your money either on improving your skill tree, on your armour or “runes”. This adds a nice little element of RPG to Rogue Legacy which allows the less skilled to beat the game through or hours of grind. And the runes change how your game plays. The skill tree will also allow you to focus on melee and spell damage, however, some newb advice, specialise in one. Otherwise it’ll take forever to get to a point where you can wafflestomp.
Ultimately, Rogue Legacy is decent enough experience but it is lacking as the git gud or grind endlessly mechanics don’t feel particularly rewarding. Yes, beating it with skill like a Mega Man would be satisfying. But spending 20 hours to over-grind gives a underwealming feeling of “meh” when you finally 2 shot the final boss…
That said, Rogue Legacy is a fun enough game but you’ll either beat it in 2 hours or 15 hours. Which perfectly encapsulates the flaws in this mix of platforming and RPG.
Pros: Fun, nice Roguealike elements, cracking music
Cons: unless you’re a platforming god expect a fuck tonne of RPG grind
Back in the day:
Rogue Legacy scored 8 and 9 put of 10s across the board